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Copper Cat Escape Games opens in downtown Brainerd

Allon and Liz Loven have always had a love for escape rooms. After a recent vacation with some friends from Alexandria, the couple decided to open Copper Cat Escape Games.

Man and woman stand in front of a copper wall decoration in the shape of a cat's face.
Liz and Allon Loven stand in front of the Copper Cat Escape Room logo, May 20, 2022.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch
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Allon and Liz Loven have always had a love for escape rooms. After a recent vacation with some friends from Alexandria, the couple decided to open Copper Cat Escape Games.

The Copper Cat Escape Games opened in the middle of April, but the processing of renovating began on Feb. 14, 2022. The couple was inspired after a trip to Denver, Colorado in October of 2021. The Lovens were joined by friends who own Escape Room Alexandria in Alexandria. During this trip, the group partook in 17 different escape rooms in 36 hours.

“(We) had the best time and on the plane ride back, I looked at (Allon) and was like, ‘We need to do this,” Liz said. “This is what I want to do.”

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The Lovens have done escape rooms in eight states: Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Washington. However, they still have more to go to.

After deciding that this is what they wanted to do together, the Lovens began to look at buildings. It didn’t take long for them to find the right one though. The Realtor showed them one building on Laurel Street and they knew it was the one.

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A room with bright pink carpets and trim.
A before picture of the current lobby of the Copper Cat Escape Games building.
Contributed / Alexandra Borowicz

The building has served a lot of purposes before finally becoming an escape room venue. About 20 years ago, the room they currently use as storage was a church. However, the rooms now are nearly unrecognizable from the original decor. The now black walls were once pink, green and teal. The floors were also replaced as hot pink carpets did not fit the aesthetic that the Lovens were going for.

The lobby of a store with copper furniture and décor.
The lobby of the Copper Cat Escape room after all of the renovations were made, May 20, 2022.
Contributed / Alexandra Borowicz

The Lovens decided to go for a modern, steampunk style of decor for their venue. The whole area is finished with copper and metallic furniture, frames and artwork. To top it all off, the logo in the lobby is a copper cat resembling the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. The smile is long and drawn out to give it more of a mischievous look and the eyes are made of gears.

“I'm a huge cat person and I love the color copper,” said Liz. "I immediately thought of the Cheshire Cat and just how it's like a sly cat that you never know. Like, is he helping you? Is he being sneaky and doing something mischievous?”

A close up of a metal sign in the shape of a cats face, May 20, 2022.
The Copper Cat Escape Games logo sign that is displayed in the building's lobby.
Contributed / Alexandra Borowicz

The redesign of the space is something that the Lovens have thought about very carefully. They have it uniformly decorated everything from the lobby to the bathrooms. All of the walls are the same color and all of the decorations are metallic or copper colored. The idea behind the uniformity is so the players don’t know what is behind each door.

“We don’t want it to be like a maze, but sort of like a labyrinth,” Liz said. “(A) disorienting field where you don’t know if that’s a closet or an escape room.”

In addition to the remodels, there is one completed escape room with another on the way. The first room, which is based off an apartment setting, took four people working on it about four weeks to complete. They worked three or four days a week and put in several hundreds of hours in the end.

The two other employees are friends of the Lovens through their church. Allon is the next generation pastor at Heritage Church and Liz is the music coordinator and a member of the worship team. One of Copper Cat’s employees, Josh Hankel, is a drummer at the church and knows the Lovens well. Hankel joined the team with his best friend, Aaron Moyer.

“He’s like my little brother,” said Liz of Hankel. “The first thing that popped in my head was I need to ask Josh if he wants to work for us.”

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The room they are working on currently is a bigger project and will be closer to or exceeding 1000 hours of work in the end. It has a lot more intricate details and the Loven’s want to make it as immersive and realistic as possible.

Hoodies and shirts that say Copper Cat Escape Games on them for sale.
The Copper Cat Escape Games have merchandise for sale in their lobby, May 20, 2022.
Contributed / Alexandra Borowicz

They want to have their second room open in the next few weeks, but that plan is still tentative. The one room that they do have right now is called Granny’s Recipe Rescue. The room is set up like an apartment and you have an hour to try and escape.

A variety of players have come and tried to solve the room. The ages have ranged from young children to adults and grandparents. The groups also vary in relationships, from family outings to bachelorette parties.

“I love watching people have 'Aha!' moments,” said Allon. “When they put together A and B and they've solved it. Curating and creating those moments and experiences together and seeing people have fun together and smile is a lot of fun.”

The Lovens are excited to continue expanding their business and creating more rooms in the future. The Copper Cat Escape Games is found at 605 Laurel St. Brainerd, MN 56401. To book a registration, visit their website, https://www.coppercatescape.com/ or call 218-270-4305.

SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch, staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5851 or sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com . Follow her on Twitter at  www.twitter.com/Sara_Guymon .

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