Local Axe Throwing, Go-Karting Venue to Open at MOA
There’s the entrepreneurial strategy of jumping on available space when no one else is eager to risk expansion, and then there’s opening a 35,000-square-foot axe throwing, go-karting entertainment center and restaurant at Mall of America in the middle of a pandemic.
The local owners of Victoria Burrow, which features mini golf, arcade games, and events space at its two-year-old Victoria, Minn. location, plan to open a similar concept at MOA that they’re calling Fair on 4. It’s slated to open in early December. In addition to axe throwing and go-karting, Fair on 4 will offer a retro arcade, a stage for live music, the German party game hammerschlagen, and private event space. The fast casual menu will include fair-inspired fare, like cheese curds and corn dogs. There’s also a pizza kitchen that developers tout as the highlight of Fair on 4, plus a full bar and more than 40 beers on tap.
“The pandemic isn’t going to last forever,” said Fair on 4 managing partner Jeff Brown. “We can be a place people come for an escape.”
Brown and his local partners are taking over the former Smaaash virtual arcade space, which opened with great fanfare and a $12 million investment in 2016 and closed abruptly in September of 2019. The space has been vacant since, a theme that has long plagued MOA’s fourth floor where many restaurants and entertainment concepts have come and gone through the years.
“We’re aware of the problems the fourth floor has had—I remember the Great American Sports Hall from the mall’s opening days,” Brown said. “They start out strong, but maybe because of operations, or whatever reason, they don’t continue. I don’t think it’s a fourth floor problem. It’s up to us to make sure the experience stays new and vibrant.”
Brown and his partners first toured the former Smaaash space, which already featured a two-level go-kart track, months before Covid-19 clobbered the hospitality industry. Now that Victoria Burrow has reopened and is rebounding from its pandemic closure, the group decided to take the plunge.
“Entrepreneurial endeavors usually happen best when others aren’t thinking about them,” Brown said. He declined to disclose terms of Fair on 4’s lease agreement with the mall but said “there was an opportunity to have some good participation with Mall of America.” He added that it’s a good time to hire with so many people out of work.
Fair on 4 expects to open with a 250-person limit, according to state Covid-19 guidelines. That allows for plenty of space in the large venue, Brown said. Victoria Burrow, which is similar in size, has seen big demand for axe throwing since reopening. Brown has a theory: “It’s a great stress reliever.”
Another locally owned indoor entertainment venue, Can Can Wonderland, recently reopened in Minneapolis.