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Solve puzzles together: The Puzzle Effect 

Colorado-based company brings escape rooms to the SLO

In a purple room at 583 Marsh St. in San Luis Obispo, lies a magical bookstore, Grim Stacks. The owner of the bookstore has captured a mystical creature and plans to take revenge on the library. Your job is to sneak into the shop, find the creature, and rescue it before the owner's plans are carried out. The catch? Work together with your family, friends, or coworkers to solve a series of puzzles and escape the room within a certain amount of time.

Grim Stacks is one of three escape rooms in The Puzzle Effect, a new escape room that's opening its doors on Aug. 22. Owner Brian Lacertosa is also the CEO of BCR Developments, a Colorado-based company that has opened eight escape rooms in Phoenix and Gilbert, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Bend, Oregon; and Bakersfield, Fresno, and San Luis Obispo.

click to enlarge FAMILY FUN Time for family bonding or a work event? Book the magical library Grim Stacks at The Puzzle Effect. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PUZZLE EFFECT
  • Photo Courtesy Of The Puzzle Effect
  • FAMILY FUN Time for family bonding or a work event? Book the magical library Grim Stacks at The Puzzle Effect.

Lacertosa said he and his partner decided to open a location in San Luis Obispo to offer families and individuals of all ages another option for entertainment in the downtown area—other than going to a bar or out to eat. He wants people who walk into the rooms to talk and listen to each other. They are skills that he feels are lost with the technology boom that the younger generation is experiencing.

"The beauty of this is that it forces you to talk, it forces you to listen and to work together," he said.

He had the idea of opening his first escape room in Denver after he and his family participated in the activity on a 2014 family vacation in New York. It was nothing like his family had experienced before. At the time, Lacertosa said there were about five of the entertainment facilities in the country.

"You had no idea what to expect. It's a room that's 10-by-10, and it's decorated like a home library. You just start finding things and putting pieces together and realizing that the things you found on the left side of the room go along with the things on the right side," he said.

The simplest way that Lacertosa can explain an escape room is by comparing it to a live version of the game Clue. There are plenty of items in the room, but it's what you do with them that leads you to solving the puzzles.

"If you're just thinking inside this box, then you are going to do horrible," he said. "A lot of this comes down to trust because you have to trust the people you are with."

While the rooms Grim Stacks, Curse of the Emerald Seas (pirate-themed), and Pipe Works can be booked by large groups, Lacertosa said it's almost better to get a room with strangers.

"Random groups do better because there are no preconceived notions. When you're with your friends, you know who's the bossy one, the quiet one, or the loud one," he said.

Groups of fewer than six wanting to play with other people can book a day and time and choose the public play option.

The rooms will be open to the public on Aug. 22, and booking a room can be done online at Grim Stacks and Curse of the Emerald Seas can hold groups of up to six and Pipe Works, a group of 10. To stay in the loop with new updates, events, and more, follow The Puzzle Effect on Facebook.

Fast facts

The League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County recently announced officers and directors for the 2018-19 program year. Officers are: Co-Presidents Ann Havlik and Cindy Marie Absey, first Vice President Sharon Kimball, second Vice President Debora Humphreys, Secretary Vallerie Steenson, and Treasurer Mary Beth Armstrong. Members of the board of directors are Boyd Horne, David Humphreys, Richard Moore, Meta Nisbet, Julie Rodewald, and Nancy Welts. The League of Women Voters was founded in 1962—with more than 100 members representing all of San Luis Obispo County—and encourages informed and active public participation in government. Δ

Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to [email protected].

Correction: This article was corrected to reflect that the family's vacation occurred in 2014.

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