Jonah Sandler, 33, went to graduate school to earn an MBA and came away with a career as an entertainment impresario.

Sandler, a native of Montgomery and 2000 graduate of Sycamore High School, is CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer) of Scene75 Entertainment Centers, which recently opened its second location in a former Kmart store off Ohio Route 28 in Miami Township.

The first 125,000-square-foot Scene75, which opened three years ago in a former furniture warehouse in Vandalia, is billed as the largest entertainment center in the country drawing 400,000 visitors annually and is one of Dayton’s top entertainment attractions. 

Each venue features a variety of family entertainment—arcade games, a two-floor laser tag arena, 18 holes of black light mini-golf, mini-bowling, electric go-kart track, a video game theater, bumper cars, a bouncing inflatable room, two 4-D theaters with special effects, private event space, and full-service restaurant and bar.

Why did you launch Scene75?

I was doing an internship while pursuing my MBA at the University of Chicago, and on the last day of my internship half the office was terminated during the financial recession in 2008. I was somehow fortunate enough to get a full-time offer to return in the fall, but I started revaluating everything. My family was in real estate and they had a number of vacant properties. Like the financial markets, the real estate market wasn’t strong either. I figured I could build a business to sustain these properties, help my family, build a career for myself and do something powerful and unique for a community. That’s what brought me back.

You wrote a book, Before the Doors Open, about your experience using Facebook. How did that come about? 

We started on a bootstrap budget and we used Facebook as a point of differentiation. Typically in canned advertising, you get 15-30 seconds to get your message across. You can’t share your story or details. With Facebook I treated it almost as personal blog relating to the business. It allowed the community to get to know it and me really took off. Before the doors opened in Vandalia, we had 23,000 Facebook fans. I started doing local seminars for other small businesses on using Facebook and Facebook picked up on it. They invited me to be keynote speaker at their annual event for 1,500 Facebook employees representing 15 million small business owners. It was unbelievable.

Among the more than a dozen attractions at Scene75, what’s your favorite?

It’s tough to pick one. Our 4D simulators, laser tag and black-light mini-golf, to me are all top-notch, but some days I like the go-karts. We have different things for different interests and ages.

Do you have plans to expand?

Our goal is to continue to build more, but we don’t see ourselves going after the largest cities. We see more opportunities in cities where we feel there’s a genuine need for what we provide. We try to use abandoned real estate, create jobs and fill a void in cities that need a community-type center. Bringing smiles to people’s faces is the basis of what we do.