The former Tailgate space will soon be home to Base Camp Pong & Axe. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Keith Phillips has a vision for a closed-down bar near Boise State University.  It involves ping pong balls, axes, craft cocktails and food guided by a Michelin-starred chef.

Wait… axes?

“We wanted to provide a social outlet for people so they could go out with their friends and co-workers and actually do something,” Phillips said. “We’ve owned a bar for 16 years and we’ve seen that people want something to do and they want to be entertained.”

For the new Base Camp Pong & Axe, that entertainment will include eight throwing lanes to literally allow you to toss an axe – an activity that is growing in popularity. But — booze and axe throwing? Not at the same time, Phillips said.

“You reserve in advance and can clearly not be intoxicated,” he said. “We are going to have custom cloth wristbands that will prevent selling of liquor. We are hoping people will have a ceremony at the end of play to go to bar and have a shot.”

Phillips and his partner are set to remodel the former Tailgate Taphouse & Grill on Ann Morrison Park Dr. in Boise.  An earlier deal to bring a Jalapeno’s Bar and Grill to the space fell through.

The Base Camp crew will workers expand the already-large Tailgate space into an office area next door, making it more than 10,000 square feet.  The large bar in the center will be pared back to allow more space for the other activity: ping pong.  

Eight ping pong tables will be available – including five in an area that can be reserved for private functions. One of the key attractions according to Phillips will be staff to pick up errant balls, leaving players to focus on gameplay.

The design of the food menu will be assisted by a Michelin-starred chef and will focus on “bar classics and shared plates to enhance your acitivty-based experience,” Phillips said. “Lots of apps and sharable entrees.”

They are also planning a heavily local beer and wine list, and are toying with the idea of making it 100% local.

“We want it to be an iconically Boise place,” Phillips said. “It’s a great setting just off the Greenbelt. I think it will be a great fit to complement downtown and give people an alternative. If you want to go out with your friends and do something your options are basically a bar or a restaurant – and a restaurant at a certain point is going to want you to leave.”

The building is in the growing Lusk District, which is home to thousands of student apartments for nearby Boise State, plus a variety of new businesses catering to the growing clientele. 

Phillips also owns Lucky Dog Tavern, a Boise gay bar in the west downtown area.  The building housing that establishment is being purchased by the City of Boise for a future police substation, and Lucky Dog will move over the next year or so. Phillips said the two businesses are completely separate and Base Camp is aimed at a wider demographic.

A smaller axe throwing-only business is planned for Overland Rd. Separately, the owners of Boise Fry Co. have twice announced a ramen noodle and ping pong business for Downtown Boise – though no permits have yet been filed.

Base Camp Pong & Axe is set for a conditional use permit hearing in December. Phillips and his team hope to be open early next year.

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