A virtual reality gaming room where people can swim with whales and fight zombies is set to fill an empty town centre unit.
Virtual Recreation, known as VRec, will take over the former Macknade coffee shop and food hall unit in Elwick Place in Ashford.
The venue, which will be the first of its kind in the town, will use immersive state-of-the-art technology suitable for adults and children.
As well as VR Arcade Booths promising to transport visitors to “another world”, the attraction will also have a VR Free Roam Arena which has multiplayer games and experiences for guests to team up or compete against each other.
Light snacks and drinks will be for sale in the venue’s Rec Room which also has table football and air hockey.
Work to kit out the unit is yet to start but bosses hope to have VRec open this autumn.
“We can’t wait to bring VRec and our virtual reality experience to Ashford,” says VRec’s owner and founder Jackie Dawes.
“Whether you’re a gaming enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or just looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, we’ve got something for everyone.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming you to our virtual reality entertainment centre very soon.”
Twenty-seven people lost their jobs in October following the sudden closure of Macknade.
The company opened in the £75 million leisure complex shortly before lockdown in 2020 taking over the unit previously used by Ashford International Model Railway Education Centre.
But after three years, bosses at the upmarket food shop and cafe said the cost of living crisis forced them to scale back operations and focus on their business in Faversham.
The unit next to Matches Sports Bar – which has recently announced plans to open a second branch in Canterbury – has been vacant ever since.
Cllr Simon Betty, portfolio holder for economic growth and investment, at Ashford Borough Council says: “We are delighted to welcome Jackie Dawes and the rest of the VRec team to Ashford town centre.
“VRec is an incredibly exciting new business opening in Elwick Place this autumn which is the only virtual reality business in Kent to host both Arcade VR and free roam.
“This new, unique business will bring families and different age groups all under one roof for unforgettable gaming experiences and we look forward to seeing it drive further footfall into the town centre.
“We are pleased that Jackie has chosen Ashford to launch her business and as a council have fully supported her in joining our active business community.
“We look forward to the grand opening of VRec and bringing this new world of virtual reality to Ashford.”
Group and party packages for between six and 14 people are also available for birthdays, corporate events and team-building activities.