Meet Lydia Hertzler and Matthew Murnion. They are the new owners of Ax Republic in New Town. (Courtesy of Carter Art Company)

WILLIAMSBURG – It’s been said that having common interests is good for the health of a relationship.

Williamsburg couple Lydia Hertzler and Matthew Murnion found one on their third date in the form of an ax throwing on ax republic in New city.

Fast forward to early April 2022 and the now-engaged couple take their hobby one step further by purchasing the historic Triangle’s first ax throwing saloon.

Lydia and Matthew have been regulars at Ax Republic since it was opened in 2019 by retired nurse Nikki Montero.

“We ended up joining the Founders’ Union,” Lydia recalls. “From there, we’ve just been here three years and it’s been great.”

Originally from Williamsburg, Lydia had worked as a distiller for Iron Clad Distillery in Newport News. Originally wanting to start her distillery after learning the craft inside and out, she found she also enjoyed working behind the bar. With a change of focus, she started looking for opportunities to have her own business in the service industry.

Matthew, originally from Montana, will be very involved in Ax Republic’s operations in the future, but he will also continue to work his career full-time as a director at Wolf Tree Custom Sawmill in Toano. Matthew’s full-time job creates a handy synergy as Wolf Tree is the supplier of the wood used to make the targets.

Going forward, the couple are looking to continue the already strong legacy left to them by the newly retired founder.

“Nikki made it take off and fly,” Lydia said. “We’re just taking orders now.”

One aspect of ax throwing that Lydia and Matthew are looking to develop is league play at their facility as well as in the area.

“We have a local little league right now,” Matthew said. “But we hope to play around with some ideas and do some marathon league days where you come in all day and throw axes. We also want to do a league collaboration with select locations in Richmond, Newport News and Virginia Beach. »

The other parts of Ax Republic they want to play with are food. Already known for a wide selection of locally and nationally known craft beers and hard ciders, Lydia says she plans to put together a menu that pairs well with the libations.

“I want to make it more unique,” Lydia said. “I want it to be a little more gourmet and a little less stadium food. A kind of gourmet stadium food. It’s still wings and nachos and all that, but I want to take it to the next level.

For those who want to try their hand at ax throwing, Ax Republic is open Wednesday through Sunday. For $25 per pitcher, you get 75 minutes on a lane and training from one of the staff “axeperts”.

For more information on Ax Republic or to make a reservation, please Click here.