VERNON TOWNSHIP — The Movies at Meadville is seeking to become more than just a place to watch films with the planned opening of an axe-throwing room, expended kitchen and a bar-dining area in the coming weeks.
The new axe-throwing feature and the renovated kitchen are planned to open sometime in the middle of November, according to Movies at Meadville's manager Paul McNulty. The bar area, meanwhile, will open in the lobby around the beginning of 2022.
Jon Goldstein, developer of The Movies at Meadville, said axe-throwing features have been a success in other locations he owns. He said he's often heard people say there is little to do in Meadville during winter, and saw the new addition as a way to fill that need.
Axe throwing is a sport in which participants try to hit targets with hand axes, with a larger, two-handed axe used as a tie-breaker, according to McNulty. People can reserve lanes for two-hour sessions, with a group requirement of at least four people and around 10 people maximum.
In order to ensure safety, all activities are supervised by an "axe master," who instructs the throwers on proper throwing technique and makes sure no potentially dangerous trick shots are attempted.
"No one goes in and throws an axe by themselves," McNulty said.
The axe master also organizes the various games that participants will play, with a tournament at the end to cap off the activities.
The Movies is setting up the axe-throwing lanes according to regulations from the National Axe Throwing Federation (NATF), including fences separating pairs of lanes. Axes are not retrieved until throwers in adjacent lanes are both finished, and no one directly hands an axe off to another person.
While plans are still up in the air, McNulty said the axe lanes likely will be available to reserve on Wednesdays through Saturdays, with time frames of 5 to 9 p.m. or 5 to 8 p.m.
As for the kitchen expansion, McNulty said it will allow The Movies to make much of the food it already makes better. He gave the example of freshly made pizza, rather than frozen and reheated slices.
"Much better quality than what we have now," he said.
The upgrades to the kitchen include a new pizza oven, fryer, griddle and more. Goldstein said a larger kitchen has been something planned for The Movies for years.
The new bar area will be located near the entrance to the theater, and provide a place for people to eat after axe throwing, watching a movie or any the other activities at the building.
Frequent visitors to The Movies might realize the bar area will be going where the aquarium is currently located. McNulty, however, said the fish won't be leaving, as he ensured the designers fit the aquarium into the new bar space.
While all these additions were planned before the COVID-19 pandemic, McNulty said, they seem tailor made to help the theater out in current times. The manager said many film companies are taking their movies to streaming platforms and not giving as many to theaters, making diversifying the forms of entertainment the theater offers a smart move.
With the additions, The Movies is looking to bring on new staff. McNulty said five out of a planned eight or nine axe masters have been hired, and the locale is also looking for more concession workers, cooks and ushers as well.
With the hiring squeeze going on, McNulty said The Movies will be paying higher wages than it traditionally has for the new hires in order to stay competitive.
Sean P. Ray can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.