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Q&A with Eric Petre: Owner of Puzzle Plex

If you’ve been following Wichita By E.B. over the past year, it’s no secret, I along with friends and family are huge fans of escape rooms. We have certainly had some of our favorite places we’ve gone to all around town.

Eric Petre with Puzzle Plex

There’s a small part of us who think it’d be so fun to come up with an escape room. On the flip side, we’d love to own a bar as well. Both take a lot of work and honestly, blogging seems so much easier than all of that.

Another person thought it’d be fun to open an escape room and actually went out and did it. His name is Eric Petre and he’s the owner of Puzzle Plex. They were one of our favorite rooms we tried out through out our many travels to rooms around town. We reviewed them earlier this year. Their original ideas and unique puzzles were so much fun. They have since opened up a second room called Project 403 that we need to head out and try sooner rather than later.

I recently had the chance to talk with Eric about Puzzle Plex, Escape Rooms and all the fun that happens. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the latest guest in our Q&A Series, Eric Petre, owner of Puzzle Plex.

(insert internet applause)

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E.B.: Eric, thank you for joining Wichita By E.B. in another edition of the Q&A Series. Could you please tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

Eric: My name is Eric Petre.  I’m 36 years old – married with 3 children ages 2, 7, and 9.  I grew up in Derby, but I have lived in Oregon, Colorado, Kansas City, and a few other places around Kansas.  I’m also a realtor, but my main passion is definitely Puzzle Plex.

E.B.: Very very cool. As an escape room owner, there’s certainly been a lot of competition in town. Do you feel if there’s anything that sets you apart from all the other options in town?

Eric: You know.. I don’t really consider other escape rooms “the competition”.  I feel like we can all learn and grow from and with each other.  I can tell you that at Puzzle Plex we do strive to get better all the time.  As far as setting us apart – our Artificial Intelligence Digital Assistant (or AIDA) definitely sets us apart from everyone else.

Inside Puzzle Plex

E.B.: Sounds like the Escape Room community is like the Food Truck community. Everybody playing nice and doing their best to build the community. I can attest that AIDA is something unique and a room escape feature, fans will have to go and check out for themselves to see how cool it is. You obviously had a full-time job before starting Puzzle Plex. What made you decide to open up an escape room?

Eric: Much like a lot of other owner’s, we went to an escape room with some friends and came out of it thinking “Why aren’t we doing this!?”. My friend, and now business partner Curtis Fischer, really talked me into it and here we are.

E.B.: What’s the process of opening up an actual room? How much time does it take?

Eric: I’m sure the process is different for everyone, but I will share our story.  Our first room was a story, multiple puzzles, and a few ideas that just came together as we added furniture to the room.  It was a bit chaotic to say the least.  We decided to do a bit more planning for our second room, Project 403.  We still had a story, puzzles, and ideas, but we added the extra step of planning out all of the furniture by taping it off before we actually added anything to it.  We’ll probably continue to add steps and ideas as we build more and more rooms.

E.B.: Sounds like a ton of work! I’m too lazy, I think I will stick to just going to them and retire my idea of opening one. I’m sure it can be exciting at times watching groups go through a room. Are there any funny stories or moments that stick out while watching? Any major team fights?

Escape Room Fun!

Eric: Oh, there are so many!  This is tricky because some of the best moments would spoil things for others so I have to be careful.  We had a group out a couple months back that was getting down to the wire.  Well, they had the final code and were entering it into the door and as soon as they hit unlock, the guy putting the code in just fell to the floor.  He didn’t get hurt or anything, he just wanted to make sure he made it out before the timer expired.  He did – they made it with just 1 second to spare.
As far as fights.. let’s just say that Project 403 tends to have a way of bringing some of that out.  Nothing major, but since that rooms requires strong communication skills, it can get pretty heated.

E.B.: That sounds very interesting. Having gone through so many rooms, communication is one of the top three things needed in my opinion. I think the worst experience I have been involved with is we were in a room with some strangers and one of the them farted. It wasn’t a pleasant moment.

What does sound pleasant though is the new room. Project 403 sounds intriguing; you’ve talked me into going. Now as an owner, are there any particular strategies you would pass on to people looking to do an escape room? Best way to put a team together? Best plan of action?

Eric: I always give hints to new players before they enter our rooms.  I usually tell them to make sure they are communicating with each other, double check each other – the locks can be tricky for some people, use your clues – if you have been stuck for 5-10 minutes then go ahead and use a clue because that one clue might get you past the next 4-5 puzzles, and last – HAVE FUN!

Behind the Scenes

E.B.: Definitely. Escape rooms are first and foremost about having fun. Don’t take it so seriously. Switching gears, I have to ask what I always ask. As a native of the area for a long time, what are your three favorite places to eat?

Eric: I’m boring and picky when it comes to food.  My top 3 would be Texas Roadhouse, Delano BBQ, and Red Robin.

E.B.: There’s nothing wrong with that. Food is food and everybody has their own preference. Anything else you care to add?

Eric: Escape Rooms are so much fun – you really can’t go wrong with any of them in the Wichita area.  We are so lucky to have so many and hopefully more and more people try them out and get hooked like I did!

E.B.: Thank you so much Eric for participating. As one of the bigger fans of room escapes in town, my family and friends can attest that Puzzle Plex is so much fun. They’ve put a lot of hard work into putting it all together and it came out beautifully.

For more on Puzzle Plex, visit their website at https://www.puzzleplex.net/ and be sure to like them on Facebook. For even more, you can check out our own review on Puzzle Plex.

Puzzle Plex is located at 614 N Mulberry Road in Derby, KS.

If you haven’t tried an escape room yet, DO so SOON! I can’t stress how much fun they are and there’s definitely enough options around town that one is conveniently located close enough for you.

If you know of anybody that would be great as a guest of the Wichita By E.B. Q&A Series, feel free to e-mail me at wichitabyeb@gmail.com. I’m looking for anybody who impacts Wichita in any sort of way whether they be business owners, restauranters, volunteers, whomever. Thank you!


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