The winners of the 2018 Calling All Dreamers competition presented by the Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF) recently opened NEO Escape Rooms at 1124 Second Street at the Old Sacramento Waterfront. With allowance by Sacramento County public health officials, NEO Escape Rooms will be open by reservation only with a number of enhanced safety measures in place. The epic experience offered by NEO Escape Rooms, co-owned by Gabriel Berzamina and Acme Lee, assures all participants will engage their creativity and brainpower like never before as small family groups race to solve a series of puzzles within 60 minutes.
“At its core, Calling All Dreamers is a program to help provide the structure and support for these incredible entrepreneurs to turn dreams into businesses, even in the midst of this pandemic,” said Erika Bjork, Board Chair of the Downtown Sacramento Foundation. “For the participants, including those that didn’t take the top prize, this Downtown Sacramento Foundation program was the difference maker.”
Joining a handful of escape rooms in the region that continue to grow in popularity, NEO Escape Rooms is unique in its offerings as participants enjoy a Sacramento-themed immersive experience that brings the Capital City’s past, present and future to life. To start, NEO Escape Rooms is launching with a “Capitol Treasure” room concept that plays into obscure facts and fiction surrounding the State Capitol building complete with drama, suspense, and creative license artfully weaved in. The mysteries can be unlocked through a collaborative effort by tapping into knowledge and problem-solving abilities provided by each player.
“We are thrilled to be bringing a unique entertainment experience to the Old Sacramento Waterfront,” said NEO Escape Rooms Co-owners Gabriel Berzamina and Acme Lee. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of the Downtown Sacramento Foundation, our sponsors, our mentors, our family, and our friends. Apparently, it takes a village to launch an escape room.”
To keep employees and customers healthy and safe, NEO Escape Rooms has taken the pledge to “Keep COVID In Check” and operating with the following safety measures in place:
- Bookings are exclusively for family/stay-at-home groupings only.
- At time of booking and again on the day of the reservation, NEO Escape Rooms will confirm with participants that no one in their party is experiencing any symptoms of illness.
- The main entry will remain locked to prevent walk-in traffic, ensuring that each group has the entire facility to itself (aside from a masked and socially distant NEO Guide).
- Face masks must be worn at all times (free masks are available upon request).
- As an added safety measure, the check-in process is 100 percent touchless and hand sanitizer is available upon entry and exit of NEO Escape Rooms.
- Extra time is set aside between bookings to sanitize the escape room, lobby, and bathrooms. Certified HEPA ionizing air purifiers are also used between bookings to purify the air throughout the facility.
- The initial plan is to operate at or below 15 percent occupancy until COVID-19 conditions improve and restrictions are lifted.
Cost to participate in the family-friendly NEO Escape Rooms experience is $39 per person and households of two to seven can be accommodated. The experience is recommended primarily for adults and children ages 10+. Participants are encouraged to visit neoescaperooms.com to reserve private experiences for small family groups.
Since 2013, Calling All Dreamers has continued to drive economic growth in the heart of the Sacramento region. While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted some of the past winners of the program, Calling All Dreamers has helped to launch more than two dozen local businesses. This year, the Calling All Dreamers program pivoted plans from adding a new class of applicants to support past winners to help them stay in operation with support from Kaiser Permanente and SMUD.
The Calling All Dreamers competition is produced by Downtown Sacramento Partnership and made possible by the generous support of the following 2018 program sponsors: Kaiser Permanente, City of Sacramento, Wells Fargo, SMUD, Marquee Media and more. The prize package is made possible with the support of sponsors who continue to be champions for the economic growth of the downtown core: Blanket Marketing Group, MeringCarson, LJ2 Interiors, SMP Law Corp and more.
Each year, Calling All Dreamers contestants compete for a coveted business start-up package that is designed to provide the winner with essential resources and helpful tools needed to successfully launch a downtown storefront. In addition, DSF helps the winning entrepreneur navigate a variety of challenges faced by many business owners during their first year in business.
Continued Bjork, “Our downtown established its place as the capital of the fifth largest economy long ago when it built its foundation after the city’s worst fire, flood and yes, a cholera pandemic. Downtown will continue to be a place for dreamers and entrepreneurs, just as we are witnessing today with the opening of NEO Escape Rooms.”
Economic development and small business growth are top priorities for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, a Property Based Improvement District (PBID) focused on downtown Sacramento and sister organization to the DSF. The Shark Tank-style competition takes qualified applicants through a business development program that calls for extensive business planning, market research, proof of financial sustainability, and more. For more information, visit www.CallingAllDreamers.org.
*Photo courtesy of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership