It’s October and Laser Bounce Family Fun Center at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale is still closed.
Since shutting down in March, the owners have spent tens of thousands of dollars on Plexiglas, thermal screening equipment, UV filters and other safety measures. The business has remained closed even as others have illegally reopened, according to the owners.
“It’s putting us in a bad position because they’re open, they’re going there, they’re probably not doing all the protocols they’re supposed to have and then on top of that these customers are now going somewhere, to a competitor, and they’re going to look and say, ‘Well they’re open. Why are they open and Laser Bounce isn’t?’” co-owner Ryan D’Amico told the Chronicle.
Co-owner Randy Wasserman added, “It’s been super stressful and after awhile it becomes not only stressful but unfair.”
There is hand sanitizer around the site and a temperature check planned for when people enter.
With all the safety measures implemented, including contactless entry so customers don’t have to touch a kiosk, Wasserman said he believes the family entertainment center is even cleaner than most hospitals.
“I don’t know what else more there really is to do,” he said.
Laser Bounce, which has been in Glendale since February 2018 and has 100 employees, closed during the COVID crisis but the owners planned to return in early July as part of Phase IV of the state’s reopening plan.
Instead, the closure was extended.
D’Amico said more than $40,000 was spent planning for the reopening. He said Plexiglas could be 30 percent cheaper now.
“It was purchased when everything was in high demand so we were paying high dollar for it,” D’Amico said.
Wasserman said they paid a “fortune” for face masks, which are now 15 or 20 cents apiece, and $2,400 apiece for a fogger to spray the site, which is now closer to $200.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) visited Laser Bounce last Friday and said he has “no doubt” it can open safely.
“When are we going to do it? When there’s a second pandemic spike? You do it when the numbers are down and everybody’s understanding about social distancing and masks and washing and sanitizing,” he said. “Everyone’s on that mode right now. Now would be the time to do it.”
Addabbo and the owners said part of the trouble is the early phases had clearer guidelines, while Phase IV seems arbitrary.
Wasserman noted that bowling alleys were allowed to reopen.
“We’re cleaner than a bowling alley,” he said. “You put your fingers in the ball, the shoes. We’re certainly cleaner than a bowling alley.”
Still, D’Amico and Wasserman said they had no thoughts of closing for good, even during the worst of the pandemic.
D’Amico has been in the business since he was a kid, with his dad owning a laser game business on Long Island.
“I have no interest in going anywhere else,” he said. “This is what I think I’m made to do.”
He said whenever the business reopens, there will be shorter hours and increased cleanings. “Safety is our No. 1 priority,” D’Amico said. “The last thing we want is for someone to come here and say they felt unsafe or they felt it was dirty.”
Wasserman is still expecting to take a hit even when Laser Bounce returns.
“I know once this place opens it’s going to lose money for months to come just because of the capacity restrictions,” he said.
All the measures have been added voluntarily, without specific guidance from any agency.
“You want us to paint the floor green, we’ll paint the floor green,” Wasserman said. “We’re willing to do whatever it takes to get open.”