El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge

Over the past year, I’d seen my friends post on Facebook about places where you could throw axes for fun and I thought, “Is this for real? People are actually allowed to throw sharp objects in public?”

 

I was intrigued.

 

Certainly, there had to be rules and procedures established in order to make this safe, right? I was curious to see for myself how this axe-throwing thing worked, but the closest place to throw axes was over an hour away at the time. But in February of this year, I came across a post in my Facebook feed announcing that axe throwing had arrived in Joplin!

 

Alex Menejias is the savvy businessman who seized the opportunity to add this activity at El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge, making his establishment the only cigar lounge in the area that offers axe throwing.  

 

el guapo logo red table

El Guapo’s House of Axe is a new arm of the enterprise that Menejias created in 2016 when he introduced his cigar lounge to the area. I admit that I’d avoided checking out the cigar lounge because, as a nonsmoker, I didn’t think there wasn’t a reason for me to go.

 

Then came axe throwing.

 

 

El Guapo’s House of Axe

I’m glad that my curiosity about this unique activity got me in the door at El Guapo’s because I discovered that this establishment has definitely been operating under the radar. There are so many activities here that it feels like a playland for adults – but with a chill, loungy vibe.

 

Let’s begin with axe throwing. My husband Travis and I arrived at El Guapo’s on a Friday night, ready to de-stress from our busy week by hurling sharp objects through the air at a wooden target. It’s better than throwing things at each other, right?

 

When we entered El Guapo’s, Alex, the owner, greeted us from behind the bar. We told him we were interested in axe throwing and he asked if we had a reservation. We didn’t, but luckily we’d gotten there early enough in the evening that there was a spot available. If you’re interested in axe throwing, call ahead for a reservation because, according to Alex, “Lots of people like to get out their aggressions on a Saturday night.”

 

Or, in our case, on a Friday night.

 

El Guapo’s House of Axe is located on the second floor of this historic downtown building, right above the cigar lounge.

 

el guapo exterior1

The cost for axe throwing for one hour is $20 per person. After paying for our session, signing waivers, and grabbing a couple of beers, we went upstairs to the cages. A floor monitor reviewed the rules with us (there’s a maximum of 3 drinks per person – smart rule), then walked us through the throwing process, which reminded me a lot of bowling in that you are assigned to a lane, then you take turns walking up to a line and hurling a heavy object.

 

el guapo cages

I didn’t realize how heavy the axe would feel until I finally held it. I had imagined throwing the axe with the fierceness and precision of a warrior, but now I wasn’t too sure of myself. At three pounds, the axe wasn’t nearly as heavy as a bowling ball, but it felt weighty. Frankly, I was a bit intimidated.

 

But with gentle prodding from Travis and the floor monitor, I stepped up to the line. It was then that I realized that a pair of flip flops was not my best footwear choice, but I had stubbed my toe earlier that day and it was too swollen to fit into any other type of shoe. I blinked away thoughts of one of my little piggies being permanently severed from the rest of its family, focused on the target in front of me, and threw the axe.

 

I may have closed my eyes, which I’m 100% sure is a safety no-no. Nonetheless, my throw actually embedded the axe into the wood.

 

el guapo chris axe

True, it was close to embedding in the wood floor – but it didn’t!

 

Travis, who’s always analyzing and strategizing (which is awesome if he’s on your team, and downright annoying if he’s your opponent) was up next.

 

el guapo axe overhead

He practiced the throwing positions, asking the floor monitor pertinent questions about hand placement and trajectory and blah, blah, blah. Finally, he threw the axe.

 

el guapo bullseye

A bull’s eye on the first try?

 

Seriously?

 

It was my turn again. I tried to summon that warrior energy that I’d envisioned earlier. I focused intently on the target.

 

el guapo worm target

Perhaps I shouldn’t have focused so strongly because the target started to resemble the face of a sweet little inchworm caterpillar.

 

el guapo inchworm

How could I hurl an axe at that?

 

Not very well, according to my throw…

 

Travis must not have seen the caterpillar’s face because he scored a couple more bull’s eyes (or sweet caterpillar noses, if you saw it through my eyes).

 

Our hour flew by and groups began arriving to take our place in the lane, so we moved on to the corn hole game area.

 

el guapo corn hole 2

I was pretty pumped because I’m fairly adept at playing the corn hole toss. Thanks to the numerous trips we’ve taken to pumpkin patches with the kids over the years, where the corn hole toss seems to be a staple venues, I’m well-practiced.

 

Or so I thought.

 

Travis went first.

 

el guapo corn hole

Guess what happened? His first toss went right in.

 

Did I mention that his cousin is a corn hole champion from southern Illinois (she’s been on ESPN playing this sport), so he might have some corn-hole-tossing skills in his DNA?

 

 

El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge

We then went down to the first floor and did some activities at which I was more genetically compatible to Travis: pinball, shuffleboard, and billiards.

 

el guapo pool

One thing that we didn’t try was El Guapo’s indoor golf simulator – the only one in the Joplin area.  

 

el guapo golf simulator

It was fun to play all of these things in a relaxed atmosphere, and we agreed that this would be a fun place to come with our friends – we could socialize while we played. I also learned that El Guapo’s hosts monthly events like Comedy Night and Poker Night, giving us yet even more reasons to come back.

 

el guapo stage

As far as purchasing refreshments goes, you can choose from wine and beer (there are more than 20 domestic and craft beer options) on the first floor of El Guapo’s; if you need more sustenance, there are snacks like chips and hot dogs to keep you going.

 

Well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention the cigar lounge. You can begin your cigar-smoking experience by stepping into the walk-in humidor and browsing through over 100 cigar facings and selecting the perfect cigar just for you.

 

el guapo cigars

 

el guapo cigars closeup

After that you can settle in to smoke in the first floor bar area, or if you’re interested in purchasing a membership, you can enjoy your cigar in this classy members-only lounge.

 

el guapo smoking lounge (1)

With a relaxed, lounge-like atmosphere and lots of activities for you and your friends to enjoy, El Guapo’s is a unique addition to Joplin’s nightlife scene.

 

 

El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge is located at 532 South Joplin Avenue. If you’re interested in axe throwing, call 417-825-7700 to make a reservation. Click here to follow El Guapo’s on Facebook.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Playcation: A Weekend O’ Fun

My husband Travis’ birthday is in January. This year, it fell on a Thursday, a day when our schedule forced us to divide and conquer, driving one child to dance class and picking up another from basketball practice.

 

Not the most fun way to spend a birthday, but Travis didn’t complain. He’s such a trooper.

 

Did I mention that I’m his number one fan?

 

couple's fun

 

Miraculously, the weekend following his birthday we had no obligations with the kids. I don’t know how this happened, but from the moment I realized it, the wheels in my head started to spin. We had an entire weekend of free time, and I wanted to plan special activities that I thought Travis would like, things that he normally doesn’t get to do in a household of all females.

 

You know, guy things.

 

I came up with a jam-packed itinerary, and thanks to offers from the grandparents to watch the kids for us, we were ready to kick off our “Playcation: A Weekend O’ Fun” to celebrate Travis’ birthday.

 

 

Friday

Sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures greeted us on this January morning. “Nice day,” Travis commented, looking longingly out the window of our home office.

 

I grabbed his shoes and placed them at his feet. “Put these on. We’ve got a tee-off time in 20 minutes,” I said.

 

He raised his eyebrows. “Really?” He looked at his computer screen, then out the window. Then he clicked the keyboard feverishly as he typed a message to his business partner, reached for his shoes and said, “Let’s go!”

 

All epic birthday weekends start off with playing hooky from work on Friday, right?

 

This one started off at Schifferdecker Golf Course. “It feels great to be outside,” said Travis, placing this ball on his tee. “Golfing was a great idea.”

 

“Aw, thanks,” I said. Then he swung his driver, whacking the ball and sending it straight down the fairway.

 

“Your turn,” he said, gesturing for me to tee off. I lined up my driver, took a deep breath, then swung. But the only thing that went flying through the air was a piece of turf. “I guess I’m a bit rusty,” I said tamping down the grass to fix the divot that I’d made in the ground.

 

Schiff-golf-map

Over the next couple of hours, my game didn’t improve, and on the eighth hole, Travis said, “Why don’t we stop after the next hole? I’m not feeling up to doing all 18 today.” 

 

I sighed in relief, grateful to him for granting me mercy.

 

We packed up our clubs and headed downtown for lunch at Instant Karma. Known for its gourmet hot dogs, inventive burgers, and wide selection of local and craft beers, this eclectic restaurant is a favorite lunch spot of ours. I ordered the Volkswagon Bus (minus the vegan chili), which consisted of a vegan hot dog covered in homemade blue cheese slaw. And because I was feeling sassy, I topped it with some Sriracha sauce, too.

 

instant karma bio

Travis polished off his Heavenly Donut, a juicy burger served with a glazed donut as a bun. “I’m ready for my nap now,” he said.

 

instant karma donut burger

 

“Let’s go home and rest up,” I told him. “You’ll need your ninja reflexes for laser tag this afternoon.”

 

A few hours later, we were refreshed and ready to do battle at Lazer Force. Placed on opposing teams, we mentally prepared for our game of indoor hide and seek with laser guns.

 

 

Lazer-labyrinth

The last time we’d played here, I scored over a hundred points more than Travis. Today, he beat me by 300 points. But that’s okay because he’s the birthday boy.

 

We emerged from the laser tag darkness and into the still-mild winter afternoon. “Let’s not let this gorgeous afternoon go to waste,” I said. “Let’s go to Tropicana.”

 

 

tropicana-day

Tropicana is a two-story bar and grill with outdoor seating and over 20 beers on tap. We sat on the patio and drank our beer until the sun disappeared behind the horizon and the air grew chilly.

 

We found a table inside near the warm fire and placed our dinner order: Fish tacos for Travis and the Buddha Gouda Burger (with Tropicana’s signature sauce) for me.

 

tropicana-buddha

 

While we waited for our food to arrive, we watched as a local band warmed up for a show. Tropicana often has live music on the weekends, and tonight happened to be one of those times.

 

It was great timing for us: dinner and entertainment. Today’s schedule had worked out well.

 

When the server brought us fresh drinks, I raised my glass. “Happy birthday, Travis.”

 

 

Saturday

With nowhere to be Saturday morning, we slept in. When we finally got up and dressed for the day, I told Travis that I needed to go to the mall to return a shirt.

 

Travis groaned. “I thought this was supposed to be a fun weekend.”

 

“It will be. I promise.”

 

I knew we’d be eating out the rest of the day so I got two breakfast bars out of the pantry for us to snack on during our drive to Northpark Mall. After we got out of the car at the mall, Travis looked at my empty hands and asked, “Where’s the shirt you need to return?”

 

“About that…” I began. By that time, we had made it to the entrance of Tilt Studio.

 

Then it hit him.

 

“You don’t have anything to return, do you?” he asked. “You just brought me here to challenge me at air hockey, didn’t you?” he asked.

 

I grinned sheepishly. “Come on!” I said, pulling on his arm. “It’ll be fun!”

 

He rolled his eyes. “You just can’t stand the fact that I beat you last time, can you?”

 

I hated to admit it, but the man was right.

 

tilt travis air hockey

 

We played two games of air hockey, each of us winning one.

 

Then came the tiebreaker.

 

Guess what?

 

I won.

 

And everything was right in the world again.

 

To prove that there were no hard feelings, I took Travis downtown to one of his favorite restaurants: Hackett’s Hot Wings.

 

hacketts wings

 

While I don’t care for chicken wings, I do love Hackett’s homemade sauce, so I ordered a salad with sauce-covered grilled chicken breast on top. It was like eating a boneless version of Hackett’s well-known wings.

 

Afterward, we wanted to get outdoors and enjoy yet another mild January day, so we drove a few blocks to the trailhead for the Frisco Trail to take a hike.

 

“Hey, let’s see if we can find a cache on the trail,” I suggested. Sometimes Travis and I like to combine our hikes with geocaching, which is like an outdoor scavenger hunt where you use GPS coordinates to find caches. There were several located on the Frisco Trail, and we ended up finding one close to the trail head.

 

Worn out from our day of play, we went home to rest for a few hours (this involved some Netflix binge watching, of course). Then we freshened up for our night out with friends.

 

We met two couples for dinner at Blackthorn Pizza & Pub, a cozy place to chill out with friends. Blackthorn offers a variety of beer on tap, and each of us ordered something different.

 

blackthorn beer on tap

And what tastes great with beer? Pizza. We ordered The Iconica, which was topped with blackened chicken, Italian sausage, bacon, garlic, and jalapenos. It was mildly spicy and very tasty.

 

blackthorn pizza

As it neared eight o’clock, I announced, “Couple’s therapy is about to start.” Travis looked puzzled, but the rest of our friends were in on the plan. I reached for Travis’ hand and looked him in the eyes, “It’s time to bury the hatchet,” I said, suppressing a smile. The poor birthday boy was utterly confused.

 

We gathered our things and walked a few doors down to El Guapo’s House of Axe, located on the second floor of El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge. When Travis saw people hurling axes at wooden targets in front of them, it all became clear to him. “So you’re suggesting that throwing sharp objects in a safe environment prevents us from throwing things at each other, right?” he said with a laugh.

 

“That’s the general idea,” I said.

 

We checked in with the floor monitor who walked us through the safety guidelines and showed us a couple of throwing techniques. Then it was time to throw. I’d envisioned myself whipping the axe deftly into the board with the grace and precision of a warrior. I did bury the axe into the wood – a couple of inches from the floor.

 

el guapo bullseye

Travis, on the other hand, effortlessly embedded his axe in the center of the target…on his first try.

 

Game on.

 

I channeled my frustration into the remainder of my throws. While my aim didn’t improve much, my stress level did.

 

When our hour of axe throwing was finished, we played a few rounds of cornhole and darts, then meandered downstairs to check out the arcade games, pool table, and golf simulator.

 

el guapo stage

With so many activities to engage in, Travis was as excited as, well, a kid on his birthday!

 

Mission accomplished.

 

 

 

Sunday

After the late night out with our friends, we were moving rather slowly on Sunday morning. The rhythmic pounding of the rain on the roof didn’t exactly help motivate us get up, either. But once the grumbling from our stomachs started, we were dressed and out the door within ten minutes.

 

“The last meal of your birthday weekend,” I said wistfully, as we pulled up to the tiny brick building which houses The Bruncheonette. I had to admit that this weekend’s break from cooking was just as much a gift for me as eating out at his favorite restaurants was for Travis.

 

And eating at The Bruncheonette is always a treat. Serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch items, this restaurant combines locally sourced ingredients in wildly inventive ways. Today, both Travis and I ordered different variations of Eggs Benedict. Travis had the Cuban B, with tender pulled pork, ham, and gruyere, and I ordered the Garden Benny, topped with fresh asparagus, tomatoes, avocados, local micro greens beet Hollandaise.

 

 

holiday ex brunch

As I swirled the last bite of my poached egg in the creamy sauce, I looked out the window and saw people dashing from their cars to the door of The Bruncheonette with their coats over their heads, protecting themselves from the sudden torrential downpour. “We’ll have to take a raincheck on paintball today,” I said. Playing paintball had been our last activity in our birthday weekend schedule.

 

Travis pushed away his empty plate and leaned back in his chair. “That’s no big deal. I already had a great weekend,” he said.

 

“There’s just one bad thing about it though,” he added.

 

My heart dropped. “What?”

 

“I’m going to expect this much fun every birthday from now on,” he said playfully.

 

“Done,” I promised.

 

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

 

*Post updated 5/24/19