An expert in missile defense at Raytheon Technologies in Huntsville, Dr. Patti Dare had always dreamed of opening a coffee shop. When she found the perfect spot in Guntersville, Dare and her partner, Jason Hill, decided to add a unique twist: Combining their passion for escape rooms with their passion for coffee, Sweet Escapes was born.
The new addition on Lake Guntersville officially opened for business on Dec. 11. The first of three escape rooms – this one pirate-themed – won’t be completed until later this month with the others soon to follow. Dare and Hill, who works for Huntsville-based Rogers Group and owns a tree business on the side, come up with all the clues on their own.
“The engineering mindset is useful for developing clues for the escape rooms,” Dare said.
Dare, a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, is in a dual-hatted position at Raytheon, serving as the Huntsville Site Executive and the Requirements and Capabilities Executive for the Strategic Missile Defense (SMD) mission area. Prior to working at Raytheon, she was in the same field at Boeing.
“I really like my job,” she said. “We’re doing the counter hypersonics and next generation interceptor right now. Those are big programs for us.”
Dare and Hill spent months working on the small business, completing much of the labor on their own, including hanging a canoe upside down on the paneled ceiling to serve as an eye-catching light fixture.
All coffees, teas and treats offered at Sweet Escapes are bought locally in North Alabama, mainly from the Huntsville area. Dare is hoping to expand the menu, as well as the outdoor seating area and potentially add a drive-thru.
Sweet Escapes is classified as a small, woman-owned business. Dare’s partners include Hill, and Ryan and Lisa Higginbotham. The shop, located on Gunter Ave., is open every day of the week. Call ahead coffee orders and escape room reservations can be made at (256)486-3127.