Sycamore escape room promises a little escape for family fun

Clare family turns hobby into business

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SYCAMORE – The Bunge family loves solving puzzles. And soon, they'll give DeKalb County residents the opportunity to fight their way through a prison break, work as a team to win the ultimate baseball glove and play the game of thrones to be crowned king of a medieval land.

Enter in Sycamore's first escape room.

"It is a totally a family thing," Kevin Bunge, 56, said. "We've been doing escape rooms as a family for a year-and-a-half, and have just been extremely successful."

The Bunge family of Clare is eyeing a February opening for Syco Escape Rooms, 1170 DeKalb Ave., Suite A, in Sycamore, nestled between Edward Jones and Jimmy Johns. The space next door, Suite B, will soon be a recreational ax-throwing business, Bunge said Monday. The whole Bunge family – Jean, 57, Adam, 24, Jared, 19, and Austin, 18, minus middle son Casey, 22, who's at school in Chicago – showed off the space Monday that will soon hold three escape rooms.

Bunge said it was Jared who came up with the idea to open their own escape room adventure in the DeKalb-Sycamore area.

"We were just on our back deck one summer night in 2019, and two or three of us were in the pool and I think it was Jared that said 'Why don't we do one?'" Bunge recalled. "We started kicking around the idea, and everybody just kind of dove in. We found this place and really liked it."

During a family vacation to Georgia in the summer of 2018, the Bunge family did their first escape room together. They completed the 60-minute puzzle in 16 minutes. Now, they're a part of a competitive team of escape room players called the Bongos and have also set records in Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin.

"We do cooperate well," Kevin Bunge said. "Everybody shares information about what they're doing and that's critical to understand what's going on in the entire room so as you move to the next puzzle, you can pull those pieces together."

Bunge credited his sons who have degrees in engineering, pre-med and chemistry for being able to dive right into puzzles.

Construction crews have already built the foundations for the three different 20-by-20-foot escape rooms that will go into Syco Rooms for "The Glove of Destiny" baseball theme, "Quest for the Throne" medieval theme, and Prison Break theme. There will be a lobby and backroom for staff to keep an eye on the teams via camera, completing the 2800-square-foot facility.

Contrary to popular belief, Bunge said the escape rooms will not be locked, though the idea is that the doors are shut for an hour so the group of people inside can work together to solve a puzzle before the time is up.

Though Syco Escape Rooms will have set hours Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Bunge encourages those interested to sign up for an hour-long escape room session ahead of time, to ensure availability. You also can schedule a birthday party, corporate event or celebration outside of normal operating hours by special reservation on the website.

Prices are set at $25 per person, though Bunge said there's flexibility for group rates.

Keeping in theme with family-filled-fun, Bunge said he encourages people to treat the escape rooms as fun for all ages. He plans to change up the puzzles a little if younger children want to participate or make it a 45-minute puzzle instead of 60 minutes.

"We want to be able to have that 12-year-old birthday party here," Bunge said. "And not have the room so hard they can't do it."