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Burlington Councilors Consider Liquor License For Axe Throwing Venue

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This week, Burlington city councilors reviewed an application for a new liquor license. They discussed whether alcohol would appropriately mix with the entertainment the business owner plans at the venue: axe throwing.
The Entertainment Permit Application for a Burlington business that will open in early September shows events planned at the Burly Axe include live music, karaoke and axe-throwing. During public comments resident Jacob Hinsdale said there is a need to diversify businesses in Burlington’s Old North End.  “I think that Burly Axe would be an incredibly good addition to the mix that we have between food establishments, non-profits, active studios for dance and for yoga. And I think that axe throwing is one of those flashy interesting things that people really crave for entertainments. “And the issues of alcohol being mixed with ax throwing I think are well addressed the type of flooring down to the type of cage protection around the axe throwing lanes and the limit of one drink per hour I think is a good remedy to any sorts of excessive risk with this activity.”

The permit application includes a liquor license.  Burly Axe owner Mike Garber explained that the facility can only hold 30 people and they should be able to track a one drink per hour requirement.  “An important distinction is that this isn’t a bar that allows people to axe throw. This is actually a health and fitness studio. Essentially it’s an activity that you’re doing sort of almost like a sport, sort of like a bowling alley, and there’s alcohol that is served to a very limited degree but that’s not the primary focus of the business. I’m not sure of the exact number but I know that there’s somewhere around 200 of these operations operating around the country for the past 5 years. There’s three that I know of in Massachusetts. There’s two that I know of in Maine. There are at least two or three up in Montreal and that’s just the ones that are in the local area.”

During the council’s Liquor Control Commission meeting, Ward 8 Independent Adam Roof moved to approve the restaurant-bar-liquor license for Burly Axe.   “As a former bartender controlling a crowd of 30 is a lot easier than several hundred which we ask bartenders across the city to do most weekend nights. And also we ask them to do that in spaces where in this state you’re allowed to bring in a firearm or another weapon. I’ve done axe throwing. It is exercise. It’s fun if managed well and we do know the operator to be a responsible operator in his other establishment. And so I’m taking that into account.”

Central District Progressive Perri Freeman was concerned about gentrification that might occur if such a business was allowed to operate.   “I think some of my initial concerns being in that location is just how this sort of impacts the fabric of the neighborhood. I worry about it being exclusive and not really catering to the broader community of the Old North End.”

The permit application for Burly Axe was approved 10 to one with Councilor Freeman casting the nay vote.
Audio from the Burlington City Council meeting is courtesy of Channel 17 Town Meeting Television.