There’s just something about the original Stumpy’s Hatchet House location in Eatontown, New Jersey that has its customers leaving with a desire to open their own axe-throwing spot.
This was true of Mike Keeley and Jennifer Runyon, the franchisee duo who brought Stumpy’s to Bristol toward the end of 2018. After falling in love with the experience in Eatontown several years prior, they opened Stumpy’s Hatchet House Bucks County at 1501 Grundy Lane. Their successors, Carl Gould, Karl Gibbons and Dave Ragosa, who took over in 2021, also formed a passion for the activity while over the bridge.
As for Alisa and Scott Kuppe, who this month became the proud new owners of the Grundy Lane location, their Stumpy’s story also began in Eatontown. In fact, Scott didn’t waste any time getting involved after their visit, with he and Alisa opening Stumpy’s Hatchet House Princeton.
“My husband is a dreamer,” said Alisa. “I took him to the original one for his birthday, along with my brother. And then in the backseat of the car, he was apparently applying. We opened that [Stumpy’s Princeton] three months before the pandemic, unfortunately, and it was a really rough go at coming out of that.”
Still, not only did they get their first franchise location through those months of uncertainty, they’ve now acquired the Bristol-based Stumpy’s.
According to Alisa, it was an extremely quick process. The most recent trio of owners had their hands full with other projects and needed someone else to take the reins. From their initial meeting to the ownership officially changing hands, the entire process took a little over a week.
And the Kuppes couldn’t be more excited.
As residents of New Jersey near the Hopewell area, they were somewhat familiar with Bristol, having visited Naked Brewing on occasion. When they were preparing to open the Princeton location, Alisa and Scott even got to see 1501 Grundy Lane for inspiration thanks to Keeley. However, they didn’t enjoy the full impact of the town’s sense of community until recently.
“We actually went to check out the 46th Historic Day in Bristol and oh my gosh, it was just so nice. It totally won us over,” said Alisa. “I kept saying to Scott, ‘It feels like if we do earn the trust of this community, we will really have the loyalty of everybody.’ The community really cares and takes care of its own, it sounds like.”
Under its new ownership, Stumpy’s Bucks County will continue to offer the laid back atmosphere of axe-throwing that locals have come to know and love. They’ll also get to check out some new additions that proved to be a hit in Princeton.
Alisa is particularly excited to introduce a Glow and Throw night, which features a blacklight setting. A new projection system displays various games and challenges on the target, such as flying ducks that the thrower must try to hit. Guests can now choose from three types of axes, rather than the previous single option, to see what works best for them.
“It’s really helpful because not everybody throws exactly the same way,” said Alisa. “It helps people to have a better experience.”
Another major change, the age limit for Stumpy’s is being lowered from 18 and older to 13-plus, allowing for more families to take part. Stumpy’s Bucks County will also be open more days, Thursday through Sunday. Groups larger than 10 are welcome any day of the week. Additionally, if someone is hosting an outdoor event and wants to incorporate some axe-throwing, Stumpy’s has a mobile throwing pit that can be brought to the location.
“We’re really trying to up the experience for everybody,” said Alisa.
October, she explained, is considered their “soft opening” month, though she and Scott hope to host a grand opening celebration in the near future. Until then, they’re ready to meet as many Bristolians as possible and become part of the borough.
“We’re here and we’re excited,” said Alisa.
Visit stumpyshh.com/buckscountypa/ for more information.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com