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Gravesend's The Panic Room moves across the Atlantic to Niagara Falls, New York, to expand in America


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A couple who run a panic room are taking their success in Kent across the pond to America to expand their business.

Alex and Monique Souter, who own The Panic Room in Gravesend, revealed they are opening a centre in Niagara Falls, New York, hosting four rooms with five different puzzle experiences.

Owners of The Panic Room and Battle Masters axe throwing, Alex and Monique Souter
Owners of The Panic Room and Battle Masters axe throwing, Alex and Monique Souter

The couple announced the move after coming across the opportunity when an already established business was looking to sell.

Alex said: "We really liked the location and what was already there. We took the option to go bigger and better from what the previous owners had done.

"They did not have the time to bring the company up to its full potential but with our experience and it being a big tourist location, we would be able to get the most out of it and be a nice stepping stone into other larger tourist locations."

The couple are giving the American site a total rebrand and redoing the escape rooms to make it more "panic" and are aiming to replicate their Gravesend and Essex success.

Alex added: "We are really excited. We have been eyeing this up for a while waiting for the right opportunity."

Monique and Alex working at home in lockdown
Monique and Alex working at home in lockdown

Talking about moving during the pandemic, he said: "We have probably done it at the worst time but it feels like the best time.

"Now we have got an excuse to have a mini holiday."

They are hoping to head to the USA in November following the announcement this week that restrictions on travel from the UK have eased to visit their new site.

The duo have kept the original team who previously worked in the American escape house and will now be working alongside them as they improve the facilities.

Alex said: "It will be really interesting to see how that works over there."

Winners of Gravesham Business of the Year 2018, the Panic Room. Alex & Monique Souter with the trophy. Picture: Roger Vaughan
Winners of Gravesham Business of the Year 2018, the Panic Room. Alex & Monique Souter with the trophy. Picture: Roger Vaughan

Expanding from their Gravesend model, the pair will be introducing a children's only room known as "The Hive" which includes an in-room game master who keeps the youngsters on track with a bookable party room.

He said: "Not many places do it at all and the kids absolutely loved it."

Due to its success they are looking into opening this style of room in Gravesend with an Alice in Wonderland theme.

They said this will only be the start of their American adventure as they look to expand into other massive tourist locations such as Orlando, Florida.

Known for their "weird and wonderful variety", the business has opened an axe throwing site, a game shop in the St George's Centre and are continually opening up new rooms with some big announcements coming soon.

In 2018, the Panic Room won the top prize as business of the year in the Gravesham Business Awards.

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