Hatchet Jack’s: Bringing the axe-tossing bar trend to Iowa City

  • 102

Photo by Paul Brennan

A dart, a bowling ball and a hatchet — one of these things is not like the others. But that’s about to change, according to Nick Carroll.

Carroll is one of the owners of Hatchet Jack’s, a hatchet-tossing bar that will be taking over the space at Gateway One Plaza on Highway 1 that was formerly the location of Family Video.

“It’s like darts or like bowling, something fun to do with friends,” Carroll said, describing the idea for his hatchet-tossing bar. “It’s something different than anything that’s around Iowa City.”

Axe-tossing bars have emerged as a popular trend around the country over the last year. They originated — naturally enough — in Canada and have migrated south, and can now be found in places from Brooklyn to Las Vegas.

There will be throwing lanes with big wooden targets similar to the sort of bullseyes used in archery. The layout of Hatchet Jack’s can be seen in a video by Akar Architecture, the Iowa City firm that designed the space.

“When you walk in, there will be someone at the front desk to register you, and have you sign the insurance waivers and so forth,” Carroll explained. “In the back, we’ll have a couple of ‘axe-perts,’ who walk you through and give you the general idea [of hatchet tossing]. They’ll also be around to help you, if you get stuck.”

“When I did it with a friend for the first time, we just threw for about 10 or 15 minutes before we got comfortable. Once you get the hang of it, then you start aiming for different targets on the board, or try it left-handed, or a double overhand toss,” Carroll said. “It’s just fun.”

Hatchet Jack’s will serve beer and wine, and be open to those 18 and older. Under 21s will get a red wristband, while those 21 and older will get green ones. The green wrist bands will have three spaces that can be marked, so bar staff can keep track of how much someone has had to drink.

“Obviously we don’t want anyone to be intoxicated when throwing the hatchets, but we do want people to be able to relax and enjoy a beer or a glass of wine,” Carroll said.

Plans call for Hatchet Jack’s to be affiliated with the National Axe Throwing Federation (NATF), one of the two nationwide axe-tossing leagues. The NATF provides member bars with a standardized set of rules and regulations and hold an annual national championship tournament. Carroll is looking forward to Hatchet Jack’s being able to field a team for the tournament.

Snacks will be available, but Hatchet Jack’s won’t have full food service. Carroll said he is looking into having food trucks park near the bar at night.


Subscribe for daily news updates from Little Village


Hatchet Jack’s is scheduled to open in June.

  • 102
Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »



Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

Don’t let other people’s opinions win.

Vote for your favorite people, places and events in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area! In a time when local businesses need our support more than ever, your vote will send a little love to the places that make our community special. And don’t forget to tell us why—the best comments will be published in our December Best of the CRANDIC 2021 issue! Voting ends September 30.

Read the Best of the CRANDIC issue, on stands now

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.