Escape room opens new door for area mall

Josh Czarda and Christina Pearlman. (Mike Platania)

A local escape room company has unlocked its latest location, introducing a new concept for area shopping malls in transition.

Gnome & Raven opened last weekend in Stony Point Fashion Park, filling 7,300 square feet across four suites adjacent to CineBistro near the mall’s northern end.

Gnome & Raven is the latest escape room concept from Ravenchase Adventures, which operates four other escape rooms throughout the region, including Escape Room RVA at Village Shopping Center and Warehouse29 in Manchester.

Founder Josh Czarda said Gnome & Raven is different from its other escape rooms in that rather than having participants trapped in a single room, Gnome & Raven offers longer experiences via multiple rooms.

Co-owner Christina Pearlman said the concept includes two themed experiences available now dubbed “The Tomb Ruins” and “Once Upon A Time,” with plans to add two more.

Gnome & Raven opened earlier this month, occupying five suites in Stony Point Fashion Park. (Mike Platania)

Czarda said Gnome & Raven’s escape challenges last about 90 minutes and were designed with kids’ birthday parties and corporate events in mind.

“We wanted to make something that was really kid-friendly. (Gnome & Raven) is unique in that it’s scalable in difficulty to be easy enough for 5-year-olds, but we could easily ramp it up to be harder for adults,” Czarda said.

Party packages start at $325. Normal sessions are available for $25 per player.

The concept adds a new use for Stony Point Fashion Park, which is trying to fill a number of vacancies after the departure of anchor tenant Dick’s Sporting Goods, which closed its location shortly after opening a store at Willow Lawn. The shell space at Stony Point has yet to be filled.

Meanwhile, in addition to Gnome & Raven, Stony Point recently welcomed do-it-yourself class studio AR Workshop, ice cream shop NarWhals Rolled Ice Cream and restaurant Latitude Seafood Co. Booze-infused bake shop Tipsy Cupcakes RVA also is preparing to open.

Stony Point is amid a $50 million renovation by Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group, which purchased the mall for $72 million in 2014.

Czarda said he surveyed escape room participants, particularly parents, to gauge interest in Gnome & Raven before selecting Stony Point for the location.

“A lot of parents we talked to wanted the ease of this location,” he said. “I think Starwood’s pushing it in the right direction. I think it has lots of good potential.”

Escape rooms have popped up all over the Richmond area in recent years, both from local and national operators. River City Escape Room, Room Escape USA, Real Escape Room Richmond, Breakout Games and Last Second Escape Room are among those that have opened locally.

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