Escape Now Houston closes in midst of coronavirus outbreak with hopes of reopening

Social distancing measures have cause local businesses to take a hit financially. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Social distancing measures have cause local businesses to take a hit financially. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Social distancing measures have cause local businesses to take a hit financially. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Following the week of March 9, when traffic was only about half of what business would be during a typical Cy-Fair spring break, things at Escape Now Houston at 13243 Jones Road, Houston, only got worse, according to co-owner Geraldine Roddie.

She opened the escape room alongside her husband, Mike Roddie, in May 2016, but on March 19, they closed their doors “semipermanently.” Since news of the coronavirus spread progressively, she said people have canceled their plans to participate in the company’s escape room challenges.

“We’ve canceled so many bookings in the last couple of days, so everything that was booked has been canceled,” Roddie said in a phone interview March 19. “We’re not shocked by it, but obviously we have no income coming in.”

Hours had already been significantly reduced for her seven employees, but she said she was disappointed to let the staff know about the closure. The team included two high school students and several others who were out of college, she said.

Roddie said the lease for the business was up later this month, and as of March 19, a renewal had not been signed. While she said she did not want to walk away from the business, she was waiting to negotiate with the landlord.

“At the end of the day, we can’t just keep paying rent when there’s no income,” she said. “We’ve reached out to cut costs where we can [with suppliers], but obviously the biggest one is rent.”

Roddie said she was hopeful to get a break from her landlord and potentially government-funded small-business assistance to be able to install a new room during the temporary closure period.

“We could use that to reopen and carry on, but it’s just all so up in the air,” she said. “The main thing is to say, we’ve built up the business, and we felt like it has been really successful. I feel bad for the employees because I know some of them are basically paying bills for their families, but I just don’t know what else to do. Laying them off means they can go get unemployment, and so hopefully that helps.”

By Danica Lloyd
Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a Cy-Fair reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She covers education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development and nonprofits.


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