Former finance exec’s new reality: Opening new VR entertainment venue at Regency

pelagos virtualizer 1

Pelagos VR plans to outfit its upcoming entertainment venue at Regency with virtual reality treadmills from Austria-based Cyberith Technologies, among other VR equipment and spaces. (Images courtesy Pelagos VR)

A virtual reality venue is plugging in as the latest entertainment-focused offering to come to Regency.

Pelagos VR is planning to open at the Henrico mall this summer. The venue is expected to feature three distinct formats – an arena, virtual escape rooms and treadmill-like stations – all of which allow visitors to play a variety of games in virtual reality.

The VR venue has taken over a 5,000-square-foot space that’s next to restaurant Sloop John B at Regency’s Quioccasin Road-side entrance. The concept’s name is an ancient Greek word for “deep ocean,” which is a nod to the kind of expansive experience owner Gene Burke hopes to create.

GeneBurke

Gene Burke

“The concept is you’re immersing yourself in the virtual world,” Burke said. “It’s about as cool as you can get. As cool as you can get in a geeky kind of way.”

Burke said the venue is planned to feature a 33-foot-by-33-foot “free-roam” arena dedicated to both competitive and cooperative games. Players will be able to experience games licensed from Switzerland-based TrueVR Systems, which has offerings like gun-combat and adventure games.

A smaller dedicated space will be home to virtual escape rooms licensed from Canada-based vrCave, which Burke described as similar to the usual real-world escape rooms with some added video game elements.

“Unlike a normal escape room where you (only) solve puzzles and get out of the room, you generally also have a boss fight like in a computer game. It combines the adventure and problem-solving environment,” he said.

Rounding out the planned offerings at Pelagos are four “omnidirectional” treadmill stations made by Austrian firm Cyberith Technologies. Essentially, a player will hop on, don VR equipment and be able to move around a virtual world using the endless surface of a treadmill in both solo and multiplayer games.

Burke said he expects it will cost under $1 million to open, and described the venue as a “high-end” virtual reality entertainment center along the lines of the Sandbox VR, a franchised chain that has a location in Northern Virginia and elsewhere in the country.

Beer, wine and pub-style food will also be offered.

“Our venue is going to be modeled more off that kind of high-end VR model. We have a couple things that will be unique nationally or at least on the East Coast. Not the least of which is offering food and beverage service,” he said.

pelagos truevr 1 scaled

Pelagos VR plans to have a “free-roam” arena dedicated to both competitive and cooperative games.

The new venture is how Burke plans to spend his retirement from the financial services sector. He worked at Capital One for nearly 20 years, and retired from the industry as COO of Koalafi in early 2023.

Pelagos pairs Burke’s personal interest in virtual reality and other technology with a desire to operate an entertainment-based business.

“I’ve always had an interest in high-end tech like this. My wife and I were kicking around ideas of what to do with that. We liked the idea of entertainment, that makes it fun. Those two things came together,” he said.

Burke sees an opening for a concept like Pelagos because it has the ability to tap into a more fully realized virtual reality experience he said is currently out of reach for most people in their homes.

“VR has been around for a while now but it has a hard time gaining traction because it’s expensive. Unlike standard gaming, people don’t have the disposable income that VR requires. At the same time, the ability for someone to be truly immersed in a scenario or some kind of game is unparalleled in virtual reality,” he said.

While there are franchised venue concepts, Burke said he’s opted to launch his own, in part to have the freedom to eventually develop in-house games and experiences.

“Ultimately, one of the exciting things about a business like ours is an opportunity to create content that doesn’t exist,” he said.

The business plans to cater primarily to groups of adults aged 18 to 40. There will be dedicated space for customers to put on VR equipment like headsets, and where an employee will explain how a given game works before players are let loose. Sessions are expected to have an employee “spotter” to oversee the action and keep players from bumping into each other or falling over as they traverse virtual worlds.

Pelagos plans to have a dozen employees.

Burke co-owns the business with his wife, Joan. His daughter Katy will be the venue’s general manager. She formerly worked for local escape-room company Ravenchase Adventures, which operates Gnome & Raven in Stony Point Fashion Park as well as Escape Room RVA in Tuckahoe among other venues.

pelagos vrcave 1 scaled

Virtual escape rooms are planned to be among the offerings at the Pelagos VR venue slated to open at Regency.

Burke is betting Regency will be a good fit for Pelagos given its location and the mall’s transition away from a retail focus and into a mixed-use development with apartments and experience-based businesses.

Similar tenants at Regency, which is owned by Rebkee Co. and Thalhimer Realty Partners, include Performance Pickleball and trampoline venue Surge Adventure Park. Regency plans to build more apartments, and is working on a revamp of its food court.

The Pelagos space was formerly eyed for a pizza spot by Sloop John B owner Garland Taylor, but apparently those plans fell through.

“(Regency’s) not terribly far from downtown and not far from the West End. It’s easy travel distance for a lot of our customers,” Burke said. “Changing from a retail environment to a destination type place is kind of exciting.”

pelagos virtualizer 1

Pelagos VR plans to outfit its upcoming entertainment venue at Regency with virtual reality treadmills from Austria-based Cyberith Technologies, among other VR equipment and spaces. (Images courtesy Pelagos VR)

A virtual reality venue is plugging in as the latest entertainment-focused offering to come to Regency.

Pelagos VR is planning to open at the Henrico mall this summer. The venue is expected to feature three distinct formats – an arena, virtual escape rooms and treadmill-like stations – all of which allow visitors to play a variety of games in virtual reality.

The VR venue has taken over a 5,000-square-foot space that’s next to restaurant Sloop John B at Regency’s Quioccasin Road-side entrance. The concept’s name is an ancient Greek word for “deep ocean,” which is a nod to the kind of expansive experience owner Gene Burke hopes to create.

GeneBurke

Gene Burke

“The concept is you’re immersing yourself in the virtual world,” Burke said. “It’s about as cool as you can get. As cool as you can get in a geeky kind of way.”

Burke said the venue is planned to feature a 33-foot-by-33-foot “free-roam” arena dedicated to both competitive and cooperative games. Players will be able to experience games licensed from Switzerland-based TrueVR Systems, which has offerings like gun-combat and adventure games.

A smaller dedicated space will be home to virtual escape rooms licensed from Canada-based vrCave, which Burke described as similar to the usual real-world escape rooms with some added video game elements.

“Unlike a normal escape room where you (only) solve puzzles and get out of the room, you generally also have a boss fight like in a computer game. It combines the adventure and problem-solving environment,” he said.

Rounding out the planned offerings at Pelagos are four “omnidirectional” treadmill stations made by Austrian firm Cyberith Technologies. Essentially, a player will hop on, don VR equipment and be able to move around a virtual world using the endless surface of a treadmill in both solo and multiplayer games.

Burke said he expects it will cost under $1 million to open, and described the venue as a “high-end” virtual reality entertainment center along the lines of the Sandbox VR, a franchised chain that has a location in Northern Virginia and elsewhere in the country.

Beer, wine and pub-style food will also be offered.

“Our venue is going to be modeled more off that kind of high-end VR model. We have a couple things that will be unique nationally or at least on the East Coast. Not the least of which is offering food and beverage service,” he said.

pelagos truevr 1 scaled

Pelagos VR plans to have a “free-roam” arena dedicated to both competitive and cooperative games.

The new venture is how Burke plans to spend his retirement from the financial services sector. He worked at Capital One for nearly 20 years, and retired from the industry as COO of Koalafi in early 2023.

Pelagos pairs Burke’s personal interest in virtual reality and other technology with a desire to operate an entertainment-based business.

“I’ve always had an interest in high-end tech like this. My wife and I were kicking around ideas of what to do with that. We liked the idea of entertainment, that makes it fun. Those two things came together,” he said.

Burke sees an opening for a concept like Pelagos because it has the ability to tap into a more fully realized virtual reality experience he said is currently out of reach for most people in their homes.

“VR has been around for a while now but it has a hard time gaining traction because it’s expensive. Unlike standard gaming, people don’t have the disposable income that VR requires. At the same time, the ability for someone to be truly immersed in a scenario or some kind of game is unparalleled in virtual reality,” he said.

While there are franchised venue concepts, Burke said he’s opted to launch his own, in part to have the freedom to eventually develop in-house games and experiences.

“Ultimately, one of the exciting things about a business like ours is an opportunity to create content that doesn’t exist,” he said.

The business plans to cater primarily to groups of adults aged 18 to 40. There will be dedicated space for customers to put on VR equipment like headsets, and where an employee will explain how a given game works before players are let loose. Sessions are expected to have an employee “spotter” to oversee the action and keep players from bumping into each other or falling over as they traverse virtual worlds.

Pelagos plans to have a dozen employees.

Burke co-owns the business with his wife, Joan. His daughter Katy will be the venue’s general manager. She formerly worked for local escape-room company Ravenchase Adventures, which operates Gnome & Raven in Stony Point Fashion Park as well as Escape Room RVA in Tuckahoe among other venues.

pelagos vrcave 1 scaled

Virtual escape rooms are planned to be among the offerings at the Pelagos VR venue slated to open at Regency.

Burke is betting Regency will be a good fit for Pelagos given its location and the mall’s transition away from a retail focus and into a mixed-use development with apartments and experience-based businesses.

Similar tenants at Regency, which is owned by Rebkee Co. and Thalhimer Realty Partners, include Performance Pickleball and trampoline venue Surge Adventure Park. Regency plans to build more apartments, and is working on a revamp of its food court.

The Pelagos space was formerly eyed for a pizza spot by Sloop John B owner Garland Taylor, but apparently those plans fell through.

“(Regency’s) not terribly far from downtown and not far from the West End. It’s easy travel distance for a lot of our customers,” Burke said. “Changing from a retail environment to a destination type place is kind of exciting.”

Your subscription has expired. Renew now by choosing a subscription below!

For more informaiton, head over to your profile.

Profile


SUBSCRIBE NOW

 — 

 — 

 — 

TERMS OF SERVICE:

ALL MEMBERSHIPS RENEW AUTOMATICALLY. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR A 1 YEAR MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL AT THE RATE IN EFFECT AT THAT TIME UNLESS YOU CANCEL YOUR MEMBERSHIP BY LOGGING IN OR BY CONTACTING [email protected].

ALL CHARGES FOR MONTHLY OR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS ARE NONREFUNDABLE.

EACH MEMBERSHIP WILL ONLY FUNCTION ON UP TO 3 MACHINES. ACCOUNTS ABUSING THAT LIMIT WILL BE DISCONTINUED.

FOR ASSISTANCE WITH YOUR MEMBERSHIP PLEASE EMAIL [email protected]




Return to Homepage

POSTED IN Retail

Editor's Picks

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

3 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
28 days ago

I’d pay just to watch peeople play after a few beers or wine.

Can I get a best caption for that last picture?

Bruce Vanderbilt
Bruce Vanderbilt
28 days ago

Way to go Burke family! You guys are amazing. Can’t wait to check out this new concept for Richmond.

Annette Angeli
Annette Angeli
28 days ago

This is an awesome idea! Sounds like a blast and I’m sure it will be successful! Looking forward to the Pelagos opening as I know my sons and their friends will definitely be visiting.