Axe throwing, beer drinking part of proposed new downtown business

After hitting it big with Gem City Social Sports, Kelsey Calderone and Nathan Omlor are taking a whack at bringing a new business downtown that offers out-of-the-ordinary experiences like axe throwing.

Calderone and Omlor want to open a bar and entertainment destination in the Huffman Block building in the Fire Blocks District.

In addition to alcohol and axes, the business will have a variety of games and activities, possibly including giant beer pong, giant Jenga, boccie ball and arcade games.

Gem City Social Sports, which hosts sports and social events primarily in downtown, has a large and growing following, and the founders say this venture is just what the urban center needs.

"There's nothing like this in Ohio," said Eric VanZwieten, head of marketing and public relations with the Windsor Companies, which is developing the Fire Blocks.

MORE: Ax throwing and gaming, new restaurants, new bars planned for downtown, developer says

Calderone and Omlor say their new business doesn’t have a name yet and they still don’t exactly know what selection of sports, games and activities they will offer.

But they hope to occupy about 4,500 square feet of ground floor space in the four-story Huffman Block building on the 100 block of East Third Street.

Their plan is to sell alcohol and have axe-throwing, which is an increasingly popular combination.

There's a bar called Kick Axe in Brooklyn, N.Y. Columbus has Dueling Axes, which is private axe-throwing club that is BYOB.

Axe-throwing is really entertaining, especially for groups, like corporate events, parties, special events and casual get-togethers, Calderone said.

“You basically can play all the games you play with darts, except with an axe,” she said.

Patrons will pay a lane fee and then will be able to throw small hatchets at a wood bulls-eye targets with scoring similar to darts.

It’s perfectly safe because there will be only one person allowed in the lane at a time and there will be fencing to prevent the axe from flying off and hitting someone, Omlor said. A trainer will teach patrons how to throw correctly.

MORE: Fire Blocks draws interest from restaurants, entertainment businesses

Another idea for the business includes giant beer pong, where instead of using ping pong balls and plastic cups, players will toss volleyballs into trash cans.

“Trash cans are not filled with beer — they’re just for playing,” Calderone said, with a laugh.

Calderone, 25, and Omlor, 31, also are talking about offering arcade games, a giant block tower, boccie and more. They also want to create a family-room-type seating area that’s more comfortable than bar stools.

Calderone and Omlor started Gem City Social Sports a few years ago, which has taken off. Each league has about 200 people. Gem City Social Sports’ membership is around 1,200 people.

The group has bowling, kickball, flag football, cornhole and other leagues.

Some upcoming activities include ultimate frisbee, beer pong, dodgeball, T-ball and bar sports.

MORE: Dayton’s Fire Blocks development: ‘We are doing an entire neighborhood’

Gem City Social Sports also is hosting beginner swing dancing, a pillow fight tournament, wiffle ball tournament and bar crawl and scavenger hunt.

After games, Social Sports players usually meet up at a local bar for drinks. This new space in the Fire Blocks can kind of be home base or a central hub for people to gather, the partners said.

“This will be a place to come, hang out, socialize and actually have something to do instead of just sitting around drinking,” Calderone said.

The Fire Blocks is on the verge of transforming into something special, and this would be a great addition to Dayton, which is benefiting from a lot of young people moving in, Calderone said.

The business would be another way for young people to meet and build connections, which can be difficult for new transplants who did not grow up or go to school here, she said.

“What they are doing (in the Fire Blocks) is amazing, and it feels like a central hub for the millennial group,” Omlor said.