Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2019

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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1 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9 TREND Bad Axe Throwing Burlington, Ontario, Canada "Axe throwing is modern-day bowling, only a lot more fun," says Mario Zelaya, president and CEO. "Our mission is to bring the thrill of a traditional Canadian backyard pastime to urban communities." A key driver to growth in the sport has been the World Axe Throw- ing League and televised tournaments on ESPN. Zelaya formed the company in 2014, opened the ‡rst U.S. unit in Chicago's West Loop in 2016, and now operates more than 34 locations in North America. Bad Axe is on pace to open a new location every month, according to the company. A few of the early Bad Axe facili- ties were BYOB, but the company con- tinues to add bars to existing units, and going forward all locations will serve al- coholic beverages. Bad Axe will partner with breweries to offer local specialties as well as canned and bottled wine and beer. "Currently, we're moving toward becoming a high-end bar that people can hang out in," says Zelaya. Each unit differs based on the site, building and location. Axe-throwing lanes consume most of the space, with the bar area occupying about 10 percent to 15 percent of the total facility. Design ties all the Bad Axe loca- tions together. The walls feature matte black paint, which contrasts with the rugged concrete "oors. "It's a combina- tion of a raw/carnal feeling that we want to maintain since people are throwing axes and combining it with a cool hang- out space," says Zelaya. The units include custom-made bars, tables and paneling. The wood has been hand-torched, which brings out the wood grain and creates a beautiful pat- terned look to the furniture, Zelaya says. "The torched look on the wood gives the whole space a really cool vibe." All of the axe-throwing lanes are custom-built from scratch with an emphasis on safety. "We have a speci‡c lane build-out document that we use for all locations," Zelaya says. The lanes are a wood-frame construction with a dividing wall about four feet high, and the top level is contained with PVC mesh fencing up to the ceiling. For customer safety, Bad Axe coaches give guests strict instructions on safety as well as pointers on how to prop- erly throw axes. The coach helps perfect T hrowing axes and throwing back drinks may seem like an improbable combination, but axe bars are in full swing these days. In just a few years, the extreme sport has grown to hundreds of venues in North America. No longer a sport just for lumberjacks, urban Americans now don "annels and watch caps to experience this unique Canadian pastime. Variations on this theme run the gamut from raw and rustic warehouses to elaborately decorated timber lodges. The com- mon thread among these concepts is the sturdy wood-and-chain-link construction of the axe-throwing lanes designed for safety. Look Sharp: Designing Axe Bars for Fun and Safety Wood for paneling as well as tables and bars have been torched to highlight the wood pattern. Image courtesy of Bad Axe Throwing

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