The Rutherford Report: Crestline Business Offers Players an Escape

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“If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.”

—Steve Maraboli
Crestline Business Offers Players an Escape

There’s a roaring 20’s style speakeasy tucked away in Crestline’s business district, and it’s attracting a host of visitors looking to test their wits and stir their imaginations.

Escape Lake Gregory isn’t really a speakeasy, of course; it’s an escape room. The business offers adventure seekers a chance to see if they can figure out how the fictional gangster Mugsy Malone was always able to outsmart the G-Men busting his illegal saloon.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Kathi Luster Caliva, who started the business last summer with her husband, Joe. “We describe it as a mental and physical adventure for you and your family and friends.”

For those not familiar with escape rooms, here’s the gist. Players go into a room and work to solve a series of puzzles and riddles in a set period of time so they can complete a mission or advance to the next room. They can often ask for hints or clues when they get stuck.

“Some are scary, some are gory, and some even have live actors,” Kathi said. “They are very addictive.”

Kathi, a school teacher, and her husband had planned to start a business in Crestline since they became full-time residents about five years ago, but they didn’t settle on an idea until their son, Kyle, took them to “The Study”—an escape room in Redlands.

“A week later my husband and I said we can do this,” Kathi said.

The two started researching escape rooms and thinking of a concept for theirs. They eventually chose a gangster theme in a nod to the legend of real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel who reportedly owned Club Arrowhead of of the Pines in Lake Arrowhead (now the Tudor House).

On average, it takes players about an hour to complete the challenge, but one group made up of Jasmine Anger, Justin Betz, Victoria Jeffers, and Matthew Saribu all of Riverside (pictured above) was able to escape in 27.21 seconds.

More than 400 groups have gone through the escape room since it opened in June 2017. Most are made up of young people (escape rooms are big with millennials), but there have been some older groups as well.

“We have some groups that come in here and tell us they go to escape rooms once a month,” Kathi said, noting that she often refers customers to other escape rooms in the Inland Empire.

She’s always quick to point out local lodgings and eateries to those who plan to spend a little extra time in the mountain community.

Kathi also praised the Crestline Chamber of Commerce for helping Escape Lake Gregory get off the ground.

“It just feels like it’s not just us,” she said. “It’s the community; we are all getting something out of it.”

Click here to visit Escape Lake Gregory’s homepage.
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