Is your average game of darts not cutting it anymore? Try ax throwing.
Matt Paton, owner of Philadelphia’s Urban Axes — an ax-throwing business for competitive types or those just looking for a new hobby, says he wants to open a location in Boston. Turns out, Paton lives here and misses throwing axes at bull’s-eyes for fun.
At Urban Axes in Philadelphia, six competitive leagues participate in the National Axe Throwing Federation. For those just looking for a unique thing to do with friends, groups of 12 or so can participate in two-hour ax-throwing sessions. After comprehensive training from the staffers, who are also on-hand “hosts, cheerleaders, coaches, and scorekeepers,” groups participate in a bracket competition, with a winner slicing through to the top.
Paton’s venture opened in Philly in 2016, and he’s already planning locations in Austin, Texas, Baltimore, and Cincinnati.
But Paton says it’s not clear sailing when it comes to opening an Urban Axes in Boston. He’s concerned about getting a liquor license.
With a one-time fee around $300,000, liquor licenses are hard to afford for newer, smaller businesses like Urban Axes, Paton says.
“That’s a very big barrier to make — seeing as we’re self-funded,” Paton said. “It really is disincentivizing.”
Paton argues that Urban Axes isn’t competitive with local bars and restaurants, and would be rather complementary to surrounding businesses.
“People come because of the appeal of ax throwing, and then go to a bar and debrief and hang out. It’s part of the community there in Philadelphia. . . . One of the local bar owners there says they set workers’ shift hours depending on our group events because of the influx of people.”
Even though throwing axes around while drinking doesn’t seem like a good mix, Paton says that’s exactly the vibe they want at Urban Axes.
“It has an edgy feel or vibe. It feels like you shouldn’t be able to do it,” Paton said.
He compared ax throwing and drinking to drinking while at the bowling alley.
“It’s more of the social aspect of drinking. . . . Sitting around throwing axes doesn’t make people want to get too drunk. People realize they can compete at this and don’t want to get too drunk.”