District 57 is hard to describe. It’s part-escape room, part-game bar, and all-post-apocalyptic adventure experience.
Even owners Jelani “Jay” Patterson and Mylene Labrie have a hard time pinpointing the words to describe their new entertainment complex in west Charlotte. But they felt that way when they opened Charlotte’s first escape room in 2014, too.
The Charlotte entrepreneurs and husband-and-wife duo sold their successful franchise of escape rooms, Exit Strategy, to take on this new challenge.
District 57 is another first for Charlotte with a 30-room course called the “Grid” with both physical and mental challenges. If you’re a fan of Survivor, you’ll like this. (Yes that show is still on, and yes it’s still great.)
Grid is the main attraction, but there are also arcade games, a self-serve bar, and a “commissary” with casual dishes like pizza and poutine.
Vibe: District 57 is set in 2095 and the whole mood is very dystopian with nods to Hunger Games, Ready Player One, and the video game Fallout. Details from the staff uniforms to a fake newspaper called the District News Weekly help to further set the scene. Neon lights, ping pong and pool tables, and a bar remind you it’s all for fun, though.
Grid: Playing in the Grid requires a team of two to four people. You can reserve your spot on The Grid in 30-, 60-, and 90-minute intervals. I went in for 60 minutes, and I could have used the extra half hour. Each room is a different challenge with varying levels of difficulties, which correspond with the amount of points you’ll earn.
While there are some escape room-like elements, Patterson and Labrie say the Grid is very different. “There’s no walkie talkie, no locks and no hints. You’ll really need to rely on your own brain power and physical finesse for these challenges,” Patterson says.
Pricing: Reserve your spot in advance for $15-$26 per person, depending on how long you want to be in the grid. Arcade games are free to use.
- Electronic dart machines
- Atari pong table
- 4-person Pac Man
- SEGA Genesis Classics for Nintendo
Expansion: Grid is just the first of three main attractions in District 57’s 20,000-square-foot space. In 2021, expect the opening of Bordertown, a new laser tag concept, and Unknown, a sports simulator.
Safety measures: Capacity is limited throughout and masks are required except when seated or completing a challenge in the Grid. Each room in the Grid is its own room so you won’t be mingling with others during that time.
Location: 1526 Alleghany St., Ste. B. District 57 is in a former Winn Dixie grocery store next to American Freight Furniture. It’s near I-85 in Ashley Park.
Hours: District 57 is open Thursday through Monday from 1-10 p.m. on weekdays and Sunday, and 1-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Here’s a closer look around: