Home » Noteworthy » Fort Lauderdale’s Chops + Hops Axe Throwing Lodge And Bar Will Open Its Doors This Fall


Fort Lauderdale’s Chops + Hops Axe Throwing Lodge And Bar Will Open Its Doors This Fall

Brews, bites and… axe throwing? Yep—that’s the idea behind Chops + Hops, an axe throwing lodge and bar coming to Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village in fall 2018.

Although new to South Florida, axe throwing is a sport that has been around for centuries. There’s even a National Axe Throwing Federation and a World Axe Throwing League.

Fort Lauderdale Daily spoke with Ryan Lavernia, one of the co-founders of Chops + Hops, to get the full details on the new establishment. Continue reading for highlights from our conversation, and get your axe throwing arm ready. 

How did you and co-founder Clay Rusch become involved with axe throwing?

It wasn’t so much getting into axe throwing, actually. Clay is one of my good friends and he was up in Washington, D.C. for a going-away party for one of his good friends who was getting deployed off to Iraq. One of the things they did as an activity that weekend was they went to an axe-throwing venue up in D.C. He basically came back and told me, ‘Ryan we have to do this. I was throwing axes for three hours in D.C. and we were all having a blast. It’s the coolest thing ever. We should totally do it here. Oh, and by the way, we brought our own cooler full of alcohol and we were all just having a great time.’ 

And I’m like, ‘That sounds like a terrible idea. Someone is going to get hurt. How did they even get insurance for that? How is that even allowed?’ That was my, honest to God, first response. So, once he started showing me pictures and videos and stuff like that, I’m like ‘All right, let me look into this more. I didn’t even know that this existed. Let me just check it out.’ One thing led to another and we started traveling to visit more of these facilities to experience it firsthand and to see what they were doing well, see what we liked and didn’t like, what we could change. And then before you know it, Chops + Hops was born. 

What will make Chops + Hops different than other axe throwing facilities?

Well, we hated the BYOB. There’s only a few places in the country that actually sell and serve alcohol on-site.  We really wanted to make an environment that was fun for everyone. The idea behind this isn’t so that we can exclusively have axe-throwing parties just getting trashed and doing something that’s mildly dangerous once they do get trashed. We want everything to be done in moderation. We want people to enjoy themselves. We want people to immerse themselves in the experience and not really become negatively affected by anything else going on around them. 

Who will be monitoring the axe throwing and the alcohol consumption?

We’re going to have what we call “axperts"—coaches in every single throwing bay. There will be one per throwing bay, so they’ll be monitoring the situation and teaching everyone what to do. If people want to play games, they’ll be keeping track of scores and making sure everyone is having a good time because we want everyone to be hitting the target consistently by the end of their throwing session. It’s way more fun when you’re succeeding than when you’re repeatedly failing. We really want to put people in the best position possible to succeed and at the end of the day, in terms of monitoring consumption, if we’ve done our jobs correctly, you’re going to be so focused on throwing axes and watching your friends throw axes, you’re really not going to have a ton of time to be going back and forth to the bar and pounding beers. 

Why was Flagler Village selected as the location? 

There are so many reasons why we chose Flagler Village. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one. I guess first and foremost, we both know the neighborhood really well. I have been doing business in Flagler Village for four years now with Colada, so I know a lot of the people. I’ve developed a lot of relationships there. Clay has lived in and all around Fort Lauderdale pretty much his entire life. I grew up down here as well. Apart from that, Flagler Village just has a good mix of people. You have everyone from young professionals to middle-aged people. You’ve got people from all different walks of life. The last, and probably most important thing, is that the physical space required for axe throwing lends itself more toward warehouses, places with high ceilings and concrete walls, to make it safe and easy to have the throwing bays.

Do you think Chops + Hops will make teams for the World Axe Throwing League, or something similar, in the future?

Yes, we’re actually in negotiations with the World Axe Throwing League right now on two different things, so it’s very possible that we might be joining them soon. There’s still a few things that have to get worked out with them logistically, but that is something that we’re in discussions over. Our hope is after a few months of being open to start weekday leagues, probably Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday nights. We totally want to do leagues and if the people in Fort Lauderdale get good enough where we can field a team, we’d absolutely love to sponsor a team to go to some of these competitions around the country and represent Chops + Hops at those, and hopefully bring back some trophies for us.

Axe throwing sessions will start at $35 per person for 90-minute sessions. For more information on Chops + Hops, visit chopsandhopsfl.com. Be the first to know when the lodge will start accepting reservations by signing up for its newsletter here.

702 NE First Ave., Fort Lauderdale; chopsandhopsfl.com

Photos courtesy of Chops + Hops

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