JEFFERSONVILLE — A Southern Indiana family has pooled their talents to bring a unique venue to the area, one they hope will be a smash hit with the community.
Big 4 Escape and Smash opens this weekend at the former Optimist Club on Louise Street in Jeffersonville, a creative venture brought forth by several members of the Wyatt family who grew up here.
The business features three unique rooms to choose from — ‘The Great Train Heist,’ ‘The Witch’s Castle’ or ‘The Bunker’ — and teams work together to follow clues and codes to try to make their escape within the timed hour. The Smash Room allows individuals or teams of two to blow off steam by smashing an assortment of glass bottles, old electronics or anything else fun to break up.
Atop the smash and escape rooms is a 4,200-square-foot meeting hall — making the venue the perfect spot for company, club or family events.
“I’m just excited about the business in general,” said Rusty Wyatt, who owns the business with his three brothers Butch, Alan and Mark. Their sister, Janet Reynolds, manages the property, and other family members have been involved in its creation.
“The escape rooms I think are very unique to this area and it just speaks to a lot of different areas from education to problem solving skills to team-building to corporate to anyone wanting something to do and I think it’s exciting to be a part of,” he said.
A seed for the family business was planted when Alan and Mark both saw that the building was on the market. They talked with their brothers and in late July closed on the property.
“We got to thinking that would be pretty neat for us to all get into,” Mark said. “We talked to these two and they agreed that there was some potential here.”
The brothers first planned only for the event hall, a space that built in 1960 has seen scores of dances and boxing — the floor is still marked where the ring posts were when Muhammad Ali practiced there.
But the siblings didn’t want to waste the large basement space, so they talked, researched and decided on the escape rooms. Although kits are available to help new owners create them, each of the three escape room themes (which have two rooms each) along with the Smash Room were designed and built by the Wyatt family.
“Every idea in this — the clues, the props, everything came from somebody in our family,” Mark said. “We all did what our specialties are and we just jumped in and got it framed up, drywalled, painted.
“We thought it was great that we could do it all as a family.”
The event hall can be rented alone without the downstairs features, or guests can choose a package which has both included. Individuals and teams can separately rent the escape areas or smash room also.
The family knows how important having a large enough space can be for corporate or other events — with four brothers and seven sisters, they have had their share of finding a place even for holidays or other gatherings. The building also sits on four acres with space enough for ball games outdoors next to the pavilion.
“We know because we have such a big family...we had a hard time always finding a place because no one’s house was big enough,” Butch said. “So I started thinking on the corporate side, if you’re a company with 100, 150, 200 people, what we wanted to offer people was a one-stop-shop.”
The event hall opened several months ago and it started slowly due to COVID-19. Janet says it has picked up, with calls rolling in over the past few weeks. She and the others say they’re excited to work together as a family to grow the business and contribute to the community they grew up in.
“We grew up in Jeff, we’re homegrown Jeffersonville people,” Mark said, adding that he hopes to leave “a legacy for our kids and grandkids.”