For friends and neighbors Kristen Emerson, Dan Green, and their spouses Scott Romutis and Erin Green, the idea for opening an axe bar in Purcellville came from the classic dilemma of date night planning: What are we going to do?
The local nightlife and bar scene was becoming stale for the couples, so they decided to venture out a little further and sample a new activity.
“We’re friends with the owner Tara Hampton down at Axes and O’s [axe bar in Sterling],” Kristen Emerson said.
“The four of us went down there one day on a date night, we threw some axes, and loved it. We thought it would be a really fun and different thing to bring out to Purcellville that had some entertainment value.”
After many months of extensive research and a two-weekend soft opening, the couples’ first restaurant, Elysium Axe Bar, officially opened on July 29. The new entertainment venue and restaurant/bar is located behind Monk’s BBQ and Tipped Cow Creamery along Rt. 690.
In the past few years, axe bars have become one of the newest trends sweeping the U.S., providing an updated and heavy metal alternative to cat cafés, bowling alleys, and pool halls.
Although the axe as a tool and weapon is nearly as old as civilization itself, the recreational activity of indoor axe throwing originated in Toronto, Canada in 2006. The first axe bar in North America opened in Toronto in 2011, and the World Axe Throwing League formed in 2017.
From there, axe throwing bars have made their way from the lumberjack areas of New England to out West and now, down the East Coast.
To launch Elysium Axe Bar, Emerson and Green had to brush up on WATL axe throwing regulations and test more than 20 axes to find the one with the best user experience.
Each axe throwing lane has a black-painted soft wood target mounted 12 feet away from the throwing box. The targets are specially designed to have an axe’s blade stick at almost any angle. An innovative overhead projection system displays the target on the wood.
Axe throwers can choose to project a traditional axe throwing target or games such as Tic-Tac-Toe, Connect 4, or even target practice at zombies’ heads. Once throwers successfully land the axe in the wood, they use a keyboard and mouse to indicate the area they hit.
Elysium Axe Bar features eight axe throwing lanes, a 20-seat bar, a social lounge, and a cozy restaurant seating area. Erin Green designed the interior to give off a modern Viking feel, complete with shields painted to replicate those from the popular HBO TV series “Vikings.”
The theme complements the bar’s namesake. Elysium refers to the Greek idea of the afterlife, similar to the afterlife, Valhalla, in Norse mythology where fallen Vikings can ascend into greatness.
“Between that and our staircase,” Emerson said, referencing the steep flight leading into their second-story location, “we thought [the name] was a good fit.”
The bar is ideal for axe throwing groups of any size and skill level. Emerson plans for the space to host everything from date nights and friend get-togethers to birthday parties, bachelor(ette) parties, and corporate bonding events. They also anticipate rec leagues to form in the near future.
Novice axe throwers will benefit from the one-on-one instruction of their trained axe coaches. Experienced axe throwers are welcome to bring their own axes—as long as it matches Elysium’s hatchet-sized axe regulations.
Rest assured, safety is the priority at Elysium. All throwers must be 14 years or older (youth must have a parent or guardian present) and wear close-toed shoes. The lanes are lined with horse mats to limit kickback from fallen axes, and at least one axe coach is on call at all times at each booth to train, supervise, and cheer on throwers.
“Our axe coaches are great. They have a lot of energy and personality,” said Emerson. “They were so cute because at the end of the first shift [of the soft opening] they were all like ‘I can’t wait for next weekend! This was so fun!’”
After axe throwing, patrons can enjoy pub-style shareable dishes and craft beers from their bar of 18 rotating taps. Along with fan favorite beers and canned cocktails, many of the beers and wines available are from local Virginia brands. Beers from Center of the Universe Brewing Company in Ashland or Hardywood Park in Richmond are two of their current on tap offerings.
“We’re really trying to support local,” said Emerson. “So, we’re doing discounts for our fire department and police department because that’s just how Purcellville is—everyone supports everyone here.”
Elysium Axe Bar is located at 251 N. 21st Street Purcellville, VA 20132. Axe throwing is $40 per person. To reserve your spot and find more information, go to elysiumaxebar.com/ or call 540-619-2225.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.