A new source of indoor entertainment will be available in Falmouth when the former Ryan Amusements bowling alley reopens as a combined bowling alley and axe-throwing facility.
The building at 23 Town Hall Place is still being renovated but will be open in late summer or early fall under a new name, Timber.
Much like bowling, axe throwing involves lanes. Participants are given axes and are taught to throw them at wooden targets painted with concentric circles and dots. While detailed rules are laid out by the International Axe Throwing Federation for league and tournament games, for beginners it is a case of encouraging them to hit as close to the bullseye as possible.
“It’s quite fun. I think it is something new and exciting in Falmouth,” attorney for the applicant Kevin P. Klauer told the select board at its meeting on Monday night, June 7. The board approved licenses needed to operate the facility and to serve alcohol.
“It’s a really nice addition and is something to do on a rainy day.”
The business partners are Michael Mueller and Jacob Avakian, both of Falmouth.
The idea was hatched when Mr. Mueller tried axe throwing while out of state. He began researching the concept and learned it is hugely popular and growing as facilities are popping up all over. There are several places within 30 miles of Falmouth where the public can throw axes, he said.
“There was a time it was novel; now you can watch it on ESPN,” Mr. Mueller said.
The location on Main Street will help give locals and visitors another recreation option, he said.
“While there are several restaurants in downtown Falmouth, there are few other downtown recreational opportunities at night. You could go there before your dinner reservation, or stop by after. We care about the town and wanted to invest, so when this property became available, we decided to go for it.”
The previous owners of the bowling alley shuttered its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new owner of the building is Falmouth developer Mark Bogosian, who is leasing the space to the business owners under the name Town Hall Partners, LLC.
Mr. Klauer said the former arcade space will be repurposed into five separate axe-throwing lanes. The new owner plans to continue to offer bowling and serve alcohol and food, as was done under the former owners.
Ryan Family Amusements took over the Falmouth location seven years ago when Paul Leary, who ran the alley for 20 years, leased it to the company. In December 2020 Mr. Leary expressed an interest in selling, and it was decided the time was right for Ryan’s to close the location permanently.
Mr. Klauer explained the 15-feet-long axe-throwing lanes are separated by chain link fencing for safety. Only one person is allowed in a lane at a time and the lanes are supervised by staff members who are there to educate participants on protocols and safety regulations.
Mr. Mueller said the area is very contained and controlled.
“We exceeded the safety standards recommended by the federation. We want to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable,” he said.
Although alcohol is not allowed in the axe-throwing area, some select board members expressed concern over controlling alcohol consumption on the premises.
“We’ve got to remind the proprietor they have the responsibility to manage the sobriety of customers, and in this environment, it is even more important to take this seriously,” board member Samuel H. Patterson said.
Chairman Douglas C. Brown asked if the owner had considered a two-drink limit prior to throwing. Mr. Klauer said placing a limit has not been discussed, but stressed that the staff would be TIPS-certified. TIPS is a training program designed to prevent intoxication, drunk driving and underage drinking.
“Rather than put a number on it, we would rather leave it to the discretion of the server. One or two drinks affects people very differently,” Mr. Klauer said.
“We need to trust staff and proprietor will handle this appropriately, since they are the ones carrying the liability…and if they don’t, they face severe consequences,” he said.
Select board member Onjale Scott Price asked if there has been any precedent nearby or in the state where axe-throwing facilities serve alcohol, to which Mr. Klauer named several locations throughout the state that do, including House of Hatchets in Hyannis.