The Axe Bar


Award of Excellence

The Axe Bar a is 7,987 square foot establishment located in historic downtown Champaign IL at 114 South Neil Street. The building was constructed in the early 1930’s and previously housed; office space, The Music Shoppe, Central Illinois Conservatory of Music (for a full 10 years), and finally the SoDo Theatre before transforming into The Axe Bar.

Owners Ryan Kern & Chris Schmidt’s vision made reality features ten axe throwing lanes with a gaming and sports atmosphere. A thirty‐one‐foot epoxy coated butcher block bar top showcases its full-service bar and kitchen.  The versatility of the Axe Bar offers patrons sports viewing, gaming, and an axe-throwing experience separating its uniqueness from other establishments.

ECI Construction Services (ECI) was the general contractor providing site work, supervision, and demolition. Eleven merit‐based subcontractors participated in the project’s construction.

One of the unique challenges to constructing The Axe Bar was the approval of building safety and how to address the axe throwing lanes. ECI worked with the city to determine and implement spacing, direction, and material aspects of the of axe-throwing lanes for public safety.  All processes were reviewed, inspected, and approved by the City of Champaign, ECI Construction Services, and the owners of the Axe Bar; Ryan Kern & Chris Schmidt.

 Finally, all this was done during a pandemic in a downtown location with government mandates hindering the number of people allowed in one location.  The ECI team and subcontractors performed the entire project without any safety incidents while following stringent protocols to prevent the contraction and or spread of a single COVID‐19 case. The Axe Bar was completed on time, under budget, and without incident including zero COVID‐19 cases.