GREENWOOD, NS - If you want to learn how to throw an axe, ask Althea Gillespie. She’ll show you.
She can do the one-handed throw, the two-handed throw. With the big axe she encourages you to use both hands.
It’s not a skill she ever expected she’d be able to put on a resumé but now she and husband Michael are opening an axe-throwing bar in Greenwood called The Lumber Yard.
“It was originally Michael’s idea,” said Althea. “He went to a bachelor party in Toronto and they went to one of the axe throwing places out there. And he loved it and thought maybe we should do that. It took me a little bit longer to get onboard.”
“I thought it was the coolest thing ever – to be able to huff a great big axe into a target,” Michael said of his first axe-throwing experience. He caught on quickly too.
Michael Gillespie already has an established landscaping business and is an award-winning entrepreneur.
“Michael’s great with opportunities like that,” Althea said of the axe throwing idea. “We talked about it and decided we would do it and here we are.”
“We wanted to be in Greenwood,” Michael said. “And try to offer the community something to do as well. Basically it was the best spot we could find. It’s nice and close to the base.”
In fact, it’s tucked right in behind McDonald’s on Argus Drive. There’s no mistaking the bright orange siding on the building.
“There’s not much for the community to do in this area at all,” Althea said. “So it’s nice just to be able to offer this to people as an option for entertainment and to just kick back and have some fun.”
The interior is all horizontal hemlock boards, galvanized corrugated tin, and wood-topped tables. The bar looks old timey and rustic. Crews are busy cutting boards, painting, and putting the finishing touches on various aspects of the building’s renovations.
The Lawrencetown couple expects to open The Lumber Yard at the beginning of October.
“We were playing around with names for a while,” said Althea. “It was just a matter of what played along the theme of axes and that rough outdoorsy feel. And after playing around with names for a bit we end up with The Lumber Yard. All of the wood and that rough feel is just what goes along with it. That just kind of fits both of our personalities in a way.”
There are four throwing lanes, separated from each other and from the bar area.
Patrons don’t need to be afraid that they can’t do it. Staff will ease them into it.
“We’ll coach them along. Show them the techniques,” Michael said. “A few throws and most people they’re on their way.”
After that it’s just a matter of honing their skills and perfecting their aim.
Food and Drink
But axe throwing isn’t the only draw at the Lumber Yard. People can sit down, order craft beer and cider on tap, and wine will be available.
“We’ve talked to a few people, and we’ve chatted with Lunn’s and Wayfarers’ Ale Society, so they’re most definitely two that we will have at least,” said Althea. “And if we can we plan on expanding what we offer for beer.”
“Then we’re going to look to be doing food in the spring,” Michael said. “Basically we’re just going to get our feet wet, go with it for the winter and get into food in the spring.”
In the meantime patrons will have dining opportunities.
“We’ll allow people to bring their own if they want to order something in or bring something in. We most definitely allow that,” said Althea. “It was Michael‘s idea that we talk to some of the local pizza places and maybe see if we wanted to offer their menu.”
“If you come in and you want pizza, you pay us and we’ll order it and it will be here,” said Michael. As far as parties and get-togethers are concerned he’s hoping several local restaurants will cater or supply them if somebody wants to rent out the whole building and have a buffet set up.
In the spring he’s hoping to get a shipping container set up as a kitchen and serve hearty food.
“It will be all home grown and it’s something that we would like to grow -- all our own chicken, beef, pork as we’re doing that now. And lamb. And do it that way. And some pub food as well I guess.”
What Are People Saying?
“A lot of people are excited. They want to come in. They want to try it. They want to know when we’re going to open,” Michael said.
“Everybody seems really excited,” Althea agreed. “They just want to try it. A lot of people in this area I find haven’t done it at all yet. So this is really going to be breaking the ice in this area for it.”
“It’s on the bus route too, which is good,” said Michael. “Walking distance from the PMQs. We’re hoping to be able to host quite a few Christmas parties and get into that side of things as well.”
“Once we have our soft opening, and we get our feet wet with it and everything’s running smoothly then we plan on having a grand opening,” said Althea. “We have a few special plans in line for that.”
And she said they’ll be hiring, likely in the near future.
“Starting off it will probably just be us to get everything worked out,” said Michael.
“Get all the kinks worked out,” Althea said. “Once we’re good with that we’ll probably put out a job ad and get some people in.”
Are they excited?
“Oh yeah. We want to get in here,” she said. “We’re hoping it will be a big hit. We’re thinking it will be, but we’ll see what happens.”