Entrepreneur Suzanne Gilbert says opening an axe throwing bar in Gainesville is an “ax-cellent” and “ax-iting” new venture.
The former marketing executive and professional poker player from Nottingham, England is a seasoned thrower and says that axe throwing is a growing pastime in northern states such as New York and New Jersey.
“Gainesville is ideal,” she says about why she and business partner Alisha Brown are opening The Hatchetbury Axe Throwing Bar at a newly renovated building at 213 NW 8th Ave. “It’s vibrant, energetic, we thought axe throwing would be perfect.”
With the renovation crew moving out last week and new furniture arriving, Gilbert said The Hatchetbury is just waiting for its wine and liquor licenses to come through.
The expected opening date will be in early July or possibly sooner and will happen in phases, Gilbert said.
Operating hours at first will be Wednesdays and Thursdays from mid-afternoon until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays will open earlier and stay open later and Sunday opening hours are still being planned with a closing time of 6 p.m.
In Phase One of the opening there will be nine lanes with two targets that are 12 feet wide. “So naturally they are going to be socially distanced,” Gilbert said. “And that’s a good thing.”
There will also be a VIP room for private parties with your own lane, and Gilbert can bring in a caterer and dedicated server.
They will sell beer and wine and have a concession area.
Phase Two will open the rest of the space and will also have a bocce ball court.
The venue will be “Sanitizing heavily and using face masks,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert started throwing axes and found it a real stress reliever and a fun and social activity.
She watched other venues grow from one to dozens of axe lanes in a space a couple of years. So, she said she, “Did a business plan and the numbers came back great.”
Of course there will be a waiver to sign, Gilbert said, but safety is a priority.
“Ax-perts” will teach the safety rules to participants. “How to throw correctly and safely,” Gilbert said and “no open toed shoes allowed.
“Unless you are throwing the axe, you stay back,” she said. “Throw together and retrieve together.”
Axe throwing works like darts, Gilbert said. “In darts you have around the clock,” she says. “We’ll do the same on the axe target.”
The equipment for the sports includes axes ranked by weight from 1.5 pounds to 5 pounds.
“You can bring your own axe,” Gilbert said, as long as it is WATL (World Axe Throwing League) standard.
The targets are made out of cottonwood when most are made of pine, Gilbert said.
The Hatchetbury will host corporate team building events as well. And Gilbert said that with all of the rain coming this summer, the indoor activity will be a “nice alternative.”
For food and catering, Gilbert said she is going to take advantage of the food truck community in Gainesville and invite some to park outside.
They are also building a mobile axe throwing unit which will be a 20-foot trailer converted to an axe throwing lane that can visit events such as weddings or festivals.
Gilbert is excited to “contribute to the regeneration of the area” where she has a neighboring brewery and said she is looking forward to “Getting to know the community as friends.”
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