Axe-Throwing Bar Temporarily Loses Liquor License Over Serious Safety Concerns

Concerns included people throwing axes while slacklining barefoot and “patrons throwing axes at bottles of spirits," among others.

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Sep 27 2018, 2:45pm

Photo: Andia/UIG via Getty Images

If you’re reading this while you’re at work, pull your chair a little closer to your computer screen and put both feet flat on the floor. If you’re on public transport, make sure that you’re either already folded into a cramped plastic seat or take a firm grip on one of the overhead straps. And if you’re walking, then put this down until you’ve reached your destination.

What we’re about to tell you is shocking, and you might need a few minutes to quietly process this information. If you’re ready, read on: According to investigators from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), a bar that allows its patrons to get wasted while throwing axes at wooden targets was (temporarily) deemed unsafe.

We know. We couldn’t believe it either, but the MLCC suspended Hub Stadium’s liquor license for one day, as a result of what it called “a significant threat to the public health ... at this establishment.” According to MLive, the suspension to give Hub Stadium time to address some of the investigators’ concerns and to develop new safety procedures. In addition, the Commission said that Hub’s owner’s failed to mention that its patrons would be throwing axes when it applied for its license.

“It is our job to make sure that the health, safety and welfare concerns of the public are taken into account wherever alcoholic beverages are sold in the state of Michigan,” MLCC chairman Andy Deloney said in a statement. (The Commission did say that it did not regulate axe-throwing in bars or other establishments, nor was it against the law for sporting activities—presumably including axe-throwing—to be held inside booze-serving establishments).

Some of the concerning scenarios that the MLCC’s investigators witnessed during their visit to Hub included patrons drinking alcohol while they threw axes and axe-throwers wearing open-toed shoes. Then they started scrolling through Hub’s social media postings, and hooo boy, they saw some things; among their other concerns were photos and videos of “patrons throwing axes at bottles of spirits [and] consuming shots from the bottle that was not struck,” a person throwing two axes at once, three “coaches” throwing axes at the same target, a person bouncing the axe off the floor in an attempt to hit the target, and someone walking barefoot on a tightrope-style strap while he or she threw an axe. (OK, we’d actually like to see that last one.)

Hub’s license was suspended on September 10 and, at a hearing which took place before the suspension, Hub’s management said that they “had implemented some of the changes” that the MLCC had suggested.

According to AFAR, North America’s first commercial indoor axe-throwing facility opened in Toronto in 2011. Its owner, Matt Wilson, has since expanded his Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL) to a dozen additional locations in the United States and Canada. A second axe-throwing chain, Bad Axe Throwing, has 24 locations scattered between the two countries. And there are legit dozens of others— check your local listings!—but Hub is possibly the first to have its liquor license suspended, even temporarily. (Although Revolution Axe, an as-yet-unopened axe-throwing bar in Everett, Massachusetts, has had three hearings in an attempt to get its own liquor license).

MUNCHIES has reached out to Hub Stadium for comment but has not yet received a response. We would also like to know more about that person on the tightrope.