When the owners of Molly’s Hatchet axe throwing venue in Zephyrhills tell folks they are a family destination, they often get questioning looks.
“When people think of axe throwing, they assume our customers are young, athletic adults who also want a bar scene,” explains Shaun Sikat, an owner of Molly’s Hatchet. “But, we’re everything but that. We have created a fun place to go for families and kids to play video games, experience virtual reality and learn how to throw an axe so they can play games against each other, much like a family goes bowling together.”
This vision of giving local families and kids a place to go that is fun, safe, affordable and close to home is a bit unique in the competitive axe throwing world. But in Zephyrhills, it’s a perfect blend of activities and purpose that has made it a success.
New Location Is Twice The Size
Molly’s Hatchet has been so successful since it opened in 2019, that it recently doubled its size and moved up Fifth Avenue to a 5,000-square-foot building in the heart of downtown Zephyrhills. The venue kicked off its grand opening Easter weekend, and hundreds of area residents have come by since then to see the expanded axe throwing lanes, try virtual reality for the first time, and immerse themselves in a wide selection of video games.
“It’s been so much fun to have so many people visit us since our grand opening,” said co-owner Riley Payne. “There is something for everyone to do, even if it’s just watching others play.”
In addition to Payne and Sikat, the business also is owned by Chris and Rebecca Murphy, who opened the original Molly’s Hatchet in 2019.
“Zephyrhills is a small town, and like a lot of small towns with not much to do, it’s easy for kids to go down the wrong path,” said Sikat, who moved to Zephyrhills when he was 13. “We want to channel their boredom and energy, and offer kids healthy alternatives to keep them busy and out of trouble.”
Axe Throwing Is Easier Than You Think
When you walk into Molly’s Hatchet, the first thing you see are the impressive axe throwing lanes. Targets are made from pine and look like oversized dart boards. Up front are four single lanes and two competitive lanes, and in the back is a private lane perfect for date night or a small group. All lanes follow guidelines set by WATL — the World of Axe Throwing League, which governs urban axe throwing memberships in 19 countries.
“Throwing an axe is much easier than most people think, and your size and physical strength has little to do with how well you play,” explains Payne, a petite woman who is just 5 feet tall. “It’s more about finesse than strength, and it’s not unusual for a woman to outplay her man because she has better control.”
Learning to throw an axe begins with a 30-minute lesson from a professional axe throwing coach, who teaches safety, form and technique. There is always staff on site overseeing safety, giving instructions and teaching new games.
“There are no exceptions when it comes to safety – we do not hesitate to ask guests to leave if they are not following the rules,” explains Sikat.
All players sign a release, and safety rules are reviewed at every game. Children must be 11 years or older to play, and parents must be present and sign a release form.
Axe throwing is priced very reasonably — $20 for 30 minutes, $30 for 1 hour and $40 for 90 minutes. The cost includes all equipment and coaching, which is overseen by Manager Gavin Slater, a Navy veteran who has worked at Molly’s for over a year.
Virtual Reality That Blows You Away
Most guests begin with axe throwing, and then try the virtual reality, which is exponentially better than virtual reality games played at home.
“Most people have little experience with virtual reality and are blown away by the experience,” said Sikat. “Our simulation is unbelievable — especially Skyfront VR, where you actually feel like you’re flying 2,000 feet up in the air.”
Molly’s has two virtual reality seats, and you can play with, or against, the other seat. VR games include archery, Fruit Ninja and music-based games that are ideal for youngsters, as well as war games and even zombie horrors for adults.
Virtual reality also is very affordable, at just $1 a minute, with most games lasting between 7 and 14 minutes.
Both children and adults enjoy the arcade area, where games range from traditional Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, to race car driving and new high-tech games. All games cost just $1.
Weekly specials at Molly’s Hatchett include “SIN” Mondays, where employees in the service industry receive 10% off axe throwing and VR from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Later in the week is Throw It Out Thursday — all you can throw for just $30. Active military, veterans and first responders always receive a 15% discount.
Molly’s Hatchet has a large selection of craft beer, meads and wines. Food in its snack bar is pre-packaged for safety, and a 500-square-foot outside patio is opening soon that will have two axe throwing lanes, inflatable axe throwing for kids, a fire pit and outside seating.
“We welcome families to come to Zephyrhills and visit Molly’s Hatchet. We guarantee you will have more fun than you ever imagined,” said Sikat.
Published April 14, 2021