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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J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9 • 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 • 1 9 technique and stays with the customers the entire session. "With the help of our talented axe-throwing coaches, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to share our passion for throwing axes," Zelaya says. Clientele includes walk-ins, axe-throwing leagues, private parties, team-building events and tournaments. "Business is great! People love axe throwing and are joining our axe throwing leagues, which are part of the World Axe Throwing League," Zelaya says. Plans call for opening a Bad Axe Throwing bar in every major market in the U.S. Kick Axe Throwing The Ginger Companies, Washington, D.C. "Instagram is driving the popularity of axe-throwing. Customers are looking for experiences they can brag about on social media — and drinking beer and throwing axes is pretty darn unique," says Ginger Flesher-Sonnier, owner and CEO of The Ginger Companies. In 2017, the Ginger Companies opened the 'rst axe-throwing bar in New York City, in the Gowanus area of Brook- lyn. "We were surprised how quickly the concept took off: Within a month or two of opening, we were maxed out," recalls Flesher-Sonnier. This spring, she opened a Kick Axe with a full cocktail bar in Philadelphia, and an even larger and more elaborate venue will debut this fall in Washington, D.C. "Part of the popularity is being transported to another world," says Flesher-Sonnier. She aims at creating an atmosphere "as if they were in an Adirondack lodge, yet they are in the middle of Gowanus." That appeals to a 25- to 45-year-old demographic that skews toward women — ones that don't want to go to a warehouse to throw axes. The eclectic mix of furniture and decorative objects includes faux digital 'replaces, antler chandeliers, glued-to- gether rock cairns and tables hewn from tree trunk cross-sections. Neon signs sport tongue-in-cheek sayings such as "death and axes." Faux bark dresses the bar and reception desk. The entry- way is clad with reclaimed barn wood to make it look like a log-chinked cabin, notes Flesher-Sonnier, who designed the spaces herself. The Brooklyn Kick Axe measures 7,000 square feet with about 2,000 square feet dedicated to the bar-lounge, and 10 ranges with 2 axe-throwing lanes each, where customers can also drink and eat, take up the remainder of the space. The 9,000-square-foot, 10-range Philadelphia unit features a lot of window space right on Market Street. Intriguing taxidermy dresses the store- front window, including a squirrel drink- ing from a beer can and a jackalope in œannel shirt, down vest and camp pants with axe in hand. This location allocates 3,000 square feet for the bar-lounge and private party areas and a second drink station in the back near the ranges. Guests can eat and drink anywhere in the venue and order from tablet-based computers at every range. Architects designed each location's ranges to be sturdy and aesthetically pleasing. They measure roughly 10 feet wide by 21 feet deep with high wooden walls and fenced cages so the ranges are completely contained. An axe pro controls each range to teach safety and throwing techniques. For safety reasons, guests require an invitation from the pro to enter the range, and the pro has control of the axes at all times. Strict protocols govern when players can throw and retrieve axes. "If a guest is throwing in an unsafe manner or appears to be intoxicated, we ask them to stop throwing," Flesher-Sonnier adds. Ranges accommodate as few as 1 person to as many as 12. Each session is 1 hour and 15 minutes. "The Insta- gram crowd doesn't want to do anything for too long," comments Flesher-Son- nier, and axe throwing can be physi- cally tiring. In Philadelphia, she offers "shorties," 30-minute sessions. While the Brooklyn Kick Axe offers a couple of beers on draft and bottles and cans of beer, wine and hard seltzer, the Philadelphia unit has a full cocktail bar. No hard liquor is allowed before axe play, but afterward, guests like to hang out, play board games and drink in the lounge. "Attracted to the window Flesher-Sonnier foraged for an eclectic mix of taxidermy, antler chandeliers and tables hewn from tree trunk cross-sections. Image courtesy of Kick Axe Throwing

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