Area musicians, music-lovers flock to new Lock Haven venue

Danny Brumbaugh, of the The Psychic Beat One Man Band, performs at the Broken Axe in Lock Haven.
Danny Brumbaugh, of the The Psychic Beat One Man Band, performs at the Broken Axe in Lock Haven. Photo provided

Something new has been brewing in Lock Haven since last December.

For a little more than a year, the Broken Axe Brew House has given Lock Haven a unique offering of craft beer, artisan cuisine, local and regional music, trivia nights and other special events.

“It’s an interesting location. It’s definitely become a community gathering place,” owner Nick Hawrylchak said. “I knew the previous owner of the location and, structure-wise, it had a lot of potential.”

Along with a dedication to fresh food and a devotion to Pennsylvania beer, live music is a hallmark of the Broken Axe, and it comes from a place of passion for new music, with local and regional bands performing on a weekly basis.

“We definitely have a passion for the great newer music that’s coming out, along with the old stuff,” Hawrylchak said. “You know — Americana, the blues, the folk music that definitely in this area has great history. There wasn’t necessarily a venue for singer-songwriter type music.”

However, Hawrylchak does enjoy a blooming musical partnership with Avenue 209, a local coffee shop.

“We’ve talked about bringing people in who are traveling through. We definitely have focused on the local Pennsylvania people, and we’ve had people travel in from a little farther,” he said.

The word is definitely out to local musicians, who face an up to three months’ wait to play a date at the Broken Axe. Brian Cleary, lead guitarist and singer for The Tommy Roberts, thinks the wait is worth it due to the ambiance of the room and the appreciative crowds.

“The folks who run the place were incredibly friendly and accommodating,” Cleary said. “You’re right there with the patrons in the room, so there’s a good chance for a connection with the audience.”

Restaurant-goers and music lovers in Lock Haven have embraced it as well, and for many of the reasons Hawrylchak indicates are staples of his vision.

“The Axe has been welcomed by the locals that enjoy a little adventure in their beer,” Lock Haven resident Rik Herman said. “Now I don’t have to travel to State College or Williamsport. The food is a little different than traditional bar food. The scotch eggs are unreal. The local music is fun, but Wednesday night trivia draws a big crowd, too.”

The Broken Axe’s kitchen is admittedly small, but Hawrylchak said the staff know how to maximize the space.

“It’s a challenge because we have very limited space, but we have a kitchen staff that is very motivated,” he said. “We have JT Grenovich. He’s our head cook. He was at Lancaster Brewing Company and has done some Italian fine dining.”

The Broken Axe has upward of 22 beers on tap, 21 from breweries in Pennsylvania, and Yuengling is the only big brewery brand included.

“I wanted to go hard in that direction. We try to focus on all of the Pa. breweries,” Hawrylchak said. “Last week we had 12 beers change over of the 22.”

It all started in the family, so to speak, with Hawrylchak choosing the name Broken Axe as an homage to his father’s profession, and Hawrylchak’s status as a unique member of the family.

“My father has a wood processing yard in New York. On and off I have seven generations of lumber in my family,” Hawrylchak said. “A lot of the décor has a lot to do with and paying homage back. I have a picture of my great-grandfather logging in the wilderness of Canada. It’s a name I have been brewing under for a while, but is also a self-deprecation to myself. I’m the youngest of five. Even though they won’t agree, I’m the broken axe of the family, always doing something a little different.”

In the future, Broken Axe fans can expect to see some of Hawrylchak’s home brewed beer, musicians such as State College’s Strayer and the Dogs and Sean Farley, and a continued focus on creating a warm, unique, neighborhood gathering place in the heart of Lock Haven.

“We really enjoy the fact that it’s a local meeting place and melting pot of people. Everyone from local law enforcement to lawyers and doctors and teachers come here. A lot of our presence is from the university staff. I just really appreciate how much they’ve been supporting us.,” Hawrylchak said.

Upcoming shows

Sean Farley, 8 p.m. Saturday

The Chris Rattie Duo, 8 p.m. Jan. 14

The Psychic Beat One Man Band, 8 p.m. Jan. 28

Chris Carl, 8 p.m. Feb. 4

More info: brokenaxebrewhouse.com