If you walk down the part of Main Street that has recently reopened to cars, you might just walk right past the newest brewery and activity location in Buffalo without even glancing up. “We do have an understated sign,” Hatchet and Hops owner Dustin says, smiling under an impressive beard.
Dustin Snyder opened the location on September 23, 2016, with co-owner Andrew Piechowicz; both first-time business owners. Andrew’s background is in risk and retail management. Dustin’s background is Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Snyder takes care of the employee engagement and corporate culture work of the business. His background also accounts for the team building exercises Hatchets and Hops offer to corporate groups. He likes an environment where people are encouraged to cut loose, to step out of your comfort zone and try something that you can’t do in the office.
“We wanted to bring people together,” Snyder says, “We wanted a place that was fun to work at as well, and where we could practice our values.” Those values are authenticity, quality, confidence, discipline, pride, and community. Values that are so important to Snyder and Piechowicz that they have them written across the backs of the uniforms their employees wear.
So why Buffalo? And why a bar where you throw axes?
Over the thwack of hatchets and muted cheers, Snyder says, “We have great places to eat and great places to drink, but what do we actually have to do in this city.” It was league night, and the current patrons were serious about their scores. Hatchets and Hops is a way to eat great food and drink good beer, but also a way to try and combat the activity void they believe the city has, even with the current resurgence.
If safety is your number one concern, don't worry, because it's theirs too. Snyder admits that there were some challenges getting the business off the ground. "There have been a great many interesting challenges as we take our governments, vendors, contractors, and anyone working with us into totally uncharted waters. But that's half the fun. Each time something is sorted out, it gets faster and more efficient the next time it comes up,” he says.
Hatchets and Hops have dedicated highly trained instructors. The business strongly encourages pre-booking lanes and has strict rules against intoxication any other dangerous behavior.
Hatchets and Hops is the first of its kind in Buffalo, and in fact the only club in New York State. There are a few business around the country and some in Canada, most notably a chain named “Bad-Axe Throwing” that are in Oklahoma, New Jersey and Canada.
As for next steps for Snyder and Piechowicz, they have no current plans in motion to expand but are optimistic about their business' future. "We would like to expand to a bigger location, and eventually other states as well,” Snyder says.