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Ax-throwing venue coming to the old Mother's Restaurant building

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BRISTOL, Va. — For the past two months, passersby of the old Mother’s Restaurant may have noticed Javan Martin, Steven Pierce and his son Jordan Pierce, hard at work converting the former greasy spoon into Mother Chuckers, an ax-throwing venue.

Martin, who has a lot of experience remodeling and creating new spaces, explained they hope to create a space that is inviting to people, with a hometown feel to it. In the long run, they hope to grow their ax-throwing establishment into a brand.

“I want it to feel like that they are in their hometown. ‘Hey, let’s go hang out and throw axes.’ It gives you something to do, something social. You don’t even have to drink. You don’t have to do anything. You can just come throw axes,” Martin said. “We want something created here that we can branch out, kind of like the first of something. At one time, there was the first Hard Rock, and then it went on from there.”

In order to make their vision a reality, Martin, Steven Pierce and Jordan Pierce have had to completely tear down the insides of the building on 1500 Euclid Ave. in Bristol, Virginia, which has been empty since Mother’s Restaurant closed in 2009.

“It had 8-foot ceilings; now we have 14-foot ceilings. We ripped every wall, every ceiling tile, everything out of here and basically had to start over fresh,” Martin said. “Now we’ve got to start putting the elements, the key pieces back in.”

Martin’s love of nostalgia has made him resourceful. A lot of the furniture for their venue will be used. He has also been reusing some of the materials they initially scrapped, such as wood, to create their ax-throwing walls and is in the process of fixing the old Mother’s bar.

“I’m one of those nostalgia people. I like stuff that’s not perfect,” Martin said. “Used stuff is one of a kind. So I like the vintage, kind of broken-in look, and you don’t have to worry about messing it up because it’s not brand-new. So that’s why we’re reusing the bar. It’s been here since 1972.”

Steven Pierce stressed that most of the work they have done so far has been in their spare time after their day jobs and would not be possible without the collective support and efforts of their families.

“We both work full-time jobs. So basically what we’re doing here, what we’re creating is in our spare moments,” Steven Pierce said. “It’s our labor and our family’s labor and our money that we’ve worked hard for and just trying to make something out of it.”

Martin recalled the first time he encountered ax throwing in Kingsport, Tennessee, and how he instantly knew he wanted to do something fun with it. He is looking forward to working and sharing his ax-throwing joy with others in the space they are creating.

“I went to a place in Kingsport a couple years ago. It was a work thing, and I came home, and I was like, how do I build one of these, so I can have one of these at home because I had a blast!” Martin said. “I haven’t had that luxury the majority of my life. It was just a job. So to be able to create something that people enjoy because I enjoy it ... if I enjoy it, it’s easy to share that enthusiasm. It’s hard to fake fun.”

When it comes to the name, “Mother Chuckers,” Steven Pierce said it came to them as they were walking through the parking lot adjacent to their new venue playing with words when Martin jokingly proposed the name.

“The reason why it’s stuck, even though we’re just joking around, I think at the time the reason it stuck is because it was honoring Mother’s Restaurant, so it’s something people can identify with, associate with,” Steven Pierce said.

In terms of food and drink, Martin has been in discussions with the owner of Bristol Gardens and Grill. Steven Pierce is currently working on the paperwork for their alcohol license.

Their goal is for Mother Chuckers to be open by July 1.


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