Like going to your neighborhood bar and throwing darts with friends in the local league?

Ever try throwing axes instead?

A local couple wants to give you that chance.

Barbara and Shawn Gliklich of Boxford plan to open an ax-throwing bar in Academy Plaza on South Main Street in Bradford.

The city's Board of Appeals has approved a permit for the Boxford couple to operate a business called Wicked Axe. The next step in the permitting process is a review by city's License Commission on Feb. 6.

The Gliklichs said they hope to open their business in summer 2020 and bring at least 30 jobs to the city. They will be leaving careers in medicine behind to open the venue at a 12,650-square-foot space formerly occupied by a nightclub.

The first-of-its-kind ax-throwing bar in the Merrimack Valley, Wicked Axe will adhere to guidelines set forth by either the World Axe Throwing League or the International Axe Throwing Federation, the Gliklichs said.

Set up in the style of a shooting range with stalls where patrons throw axes at targets, Wicked Axe will have lane coaches to monitor the intoxication level of guests, Shawn Gliklich said.

“If anyone appears too intoxicated, they're not going to be able to throw,” he said.

Barbara Gliklich said she and her husband were introduced to ax throwing when they were on vacation in Utah. After chatting with a bar owner there, the couple explored the idea of replicating the venue closer to home, using Urban Axes in Somerville as a model.

“Over the last two years, we were looking to get out of the medical field, but we still have four children in college so we still need an income,” said Barbara Gliklich, who is a former Holy Family Hospital nursing supervisor. “The first thing everyone says is 'You want to do ax throwing and alcohol? Isn't that dangerous?' No. This is a sport. It's like dart throwing.”

The Gliklichs first pursued a location for an ax-throwing business in Lawrence last summer, but the deal fell through, Barbara Gliklich said. Conversations about coming to Haverhill began in early October and the process went “very quickly,” she said.

Safety was a chief concern among city officials, including Mayor James Fiorentini, she said. The couple, including retired emergency room physician Shawn, brought along a model of an ax-throwing arena to demonstrate the safety measures they plan to put into place at their venue.

“The mayor was immediately warmed up, as was Ernie DiBurro who owns the plaza, but I had to do a lot of education and tell them it's almost impossible to get an ax to the head,” Barbara Gliklich said. “We're not some irresponsible people coming in to try to make a buck. This is our family business and we have a considerable financial and time investment here, and we're going to be very responsible. I don't want anybody getting hurt or axed.”


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