Jelani Patterson’s Business Expansion is a Puzzle: and That Was Exactly the Plan

Posted by Monica Hoel

Not all who wander are lost:
they might be exploring District 57.

Jelani Patterson and his wife Mylene had an escape room business in Charlotte, but they have recently upgraded their game, literally, to a 20,000 square foot venue called District 57. This exciting new themed challenge experience offers unique challenges in every room – some are physical challenges, some are more like puzzles. Room after room there are different games to tackle and you can take on the ones you like. You have an hour and half to do 30 rooms – and apparently some folks leave and come back later to re-try the ones they didn’t beat the first time around. Each of the rooms is connected to your smart watch so that you can follow your progress and get encouragement to finish the course.

All of this occurs in a setting that is designed to transport you to another world. Every element of the venue is rich with a dystopian theme that hinges on the story of a very bad day in 2095 when all the world’s power failed – and now your job is to survive. The theme is carried through to the nth degree by a dedicated crew of designers, creators, and graphic artists. Everything from bulletin boards to back hallways to bathrooms are drawn into the theme so that you never feel like you aren’t immersed in this created world.

The interior of District 57.The interior of District 57.And the story changes. If you come back another week the story may have progressed – and now there are new facts, new elements, new challenges, and new ways to “survive.” That newspaper box you saw last time will have a new newspaper in it, there will be new doorways for moving from one space to another, and you’ll notice new artistic elements that delight your imagination.

And did we mention there is a restaurant and a self-service bar?

The pandemic has slowed down the opening crowd a bit, but it surely hasn’t stopped them. The large building allows folks to easily spread out and socially distance, and they are seeing a lot of family units as visitors because it’s a creative and energetic activity to share in a safe space.

If you’re ready to test your skills, find them in Charlotte – but allow yourself enough time to wander a bit.

  • Jelani Patterson, Emory & Henry Class of 2003, and his wife Mylene. They created a new entertainment venue called District 57.

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