Drink a beer, throw an ax: Stumpy's offers a new alternative for a night out of the house

  • At Stumpy's Hatchet House, a growing franchise of indoor hatchet-throwing venues, patrons pay to connect a sportsman's hatchet with a painted bull's eye target.
  • Stumpy's doesn't have a liquor license but does allow customers to bring their own bottles of wine or beer

Forget bowling or throwing darts: For nights on the town, ax-throwing has now become an activity people are doing for fun.

At Stumpy's Hatchet House, a growing franchise of indoor hatchet-throwing venues, patrons pay to connect a sportsman's hatchet with a painted bull's eye. Stumpy's doesn't have a liquor license but does allow customers to bring their own bottle, providing ice and galvanized steel buckets for those who choose to do so.

While some argue that mixing axes and alcohol doesn't seem a safe combination, together they're central ingredients to the fledgling New Jersey-based business.

"Nowadays, people want something to do," Armando DiRienzo, Stumpy's co-owner, told CNBC's "On the Money" in a recent interview.

"Going to the movies, nobody wants to do that anymore, when you basically have a movie in the palm of your hand at all times," DiRienzo said, referencing mobile devices that stream content. Stumpy's "is a good place to disconnect" from a phone or tablet, DiRenzo said.

Co-founder Stuart Josberger, his wife, Kelly, and friends Mark and Trish Oliphant "hatched" the idea in 2012 at a backyard barbecue that took place after Hurricane Sandy hammered the area. "There was alcohol involved with the formation of the company, we will concede that," Josberger said, jokingly.

"There may have been some tequila and some beer involved in that process, I'm not sure though," he added with a wink.

While splitting wood from fallen trees, Josberger said, the group started "throwing axes at the log rounds, had a great time doing it, (and) kind of got addicted to it."

Ax me out on a dat at Stumpy's Hatchet House. 
Source: Stumpy's Hatchet House
Ax me out on a dat at Stumpy's Hatchet House. 

After building a bull's eye target and setting it up on a tripod or easel, a business plan followed. Fast forward to April 2016, and the two couples opened the first "Stumpy's Hatchet House" in Eatontown, New Jersey. Josberger said he was the inspiration behind the Stumpy's name.

"That was a nickname I acquired at a party. It has nothing to do with any of my appendages, they're all here, every one, everything's good," he told CNBC with a laugh. "That, in addition to the fact that we were also throwing at a log stump, so it has a dual meaning."

After opening their doors, the Josbergers said patrons lined up to be a part of the new business. After so many requests, instead of opening their own locations, Josberger said they switched to a franchise model, "to let them capitalize on our expansion."

Stumpy's ax throwing 
CNBC
Stumpy's ax throwing 

There are currently five Stumpy's nationwide: Three in New Jersey and in Greenville, North Carolina, and in San Antonio. Sixteen more are slated to open in seven other states by the end of next year. It all raises the risks associated with mixing beers and bull's eyes.

"We have an extensive safety plan to ensure that everyone's careful about the alcohol they drink," Kelly Josberger told CNBC.

Liquor consumption on the premises is limited to beer and wine, and most patrons end up drinking less than they plan to "because they're playing and they're active, they're socializing. They really don't drink as much as they would if you were sitting at a bar."

Stumpy's has no liquor license, so the business charges $20 an hour per person to throw down the hatchet. The business also plays host to group events like parties and corporate events that let patrons "bond over a fun activity," Kelly Josberger added. As one guest at the Fairfield, New Jersey, location told CNBC: "You get to throw heavy objects at wood and drink, who wants to say 'no' to that? As long as you follow the rules, you're going to have a great time."

— "On the Money" airs on CNBC Saturday at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.