The basic rules at Timberjaxe Axe Lounge in Libertyville are simple but firm: only one thrower at a time, in a given lane; never hand an axe to someone; and, when done, put it in a bucket of sand not on the table.
Obviously, there’s much more to it — including how best to fling a weighted axe toward a target made of cottonwood and which game or variation to play. But aside from learning a new skill, owners say a trip to Timberjaxe is an experience with benefits such as team building and collaboration.
The business at 216 Peterson Road in the Grand Plaza strip center features 13 traditional and three digital throwing lanes, separated in pairs by glossy black chain-link fencing with Northwoods-style tables throughout.
Axe throwing is the attraction and there will be leagues and competitions, parties and family events. Operators say it’s also a “community driven” event space for businesses, nonprofit organizations, and private and school groups.
Jai Bowie, managing partner, says the intent is “to bring a healthy, family-friendly environment to the community” for patrons 12 and older.
“Axe throwing is an excellent way to bring people together,” he added. “It’s a social activity that encourages interaction, friendly competition and personal bonding in a safe and fun environment.”
Another axe throwing business opened in the space in September 2021 but closed within two years. Bowie said he and business partner Mehdi Aribi learned the location was available while researching the axe throwing market and its potential for growth as a possible investment.
While new to axe throwing, the pair say they have a strong history in creating successful businesses. Bowie said his expertise is in start-ups in the restaurant delivery, retail and financial industry areas, while Aribi is a long-time owner in the restaurant industry in the Chicago area. A third partner, Anass Boukili, has a background in developing companies, he added.
The idea was to create a family-friendly axe throwing lounge with an emphasis on team building programs and “community-driven events to support other businesses in cross collaboration and promotions,” Bowie said.
The partners are bringing a new concept to the market with a sober/dry bar no-alcohol policy, he added. Instead, patrons can order “mocktails” from a variety of Prana Kombucha on tap or Nitro coffee drinks supplied by a local vendor. Bites and appetizers also are available.
“We don’t want people to think we’re an axe lounge with a bar,” Bowie said.
Local civic and business leaders attended a grand opening last week. The invitation said it marked “an important milestone for both the business and our town, showcasing the spirit of entrepreneurship and collaboration that makes our village so special.”
Libertyville is the first Timberjaxe location but the partners have plans to open more in the surrounding area, Bowie said.