CADILLAC — Out of all the conceivable combinations of businesses, this has to be one the strangest.

Marion residents Andrew and Mindy Faulman earlier this year purchased a vacant building at the corner of North Mitchell Street and Bell Avenue in Haring Township with the intention of opening a rolled ice cream shop and axe-throwing range at the location.

Andrew said the plan of opening such disparate businesses in the same building occurred by mere happenstance.

“It’s kind of a stupid story,” Andrew laughed.

The couple opened the Flashback Diner in Marion in 2019 but when the pandemic arrived last year, business slowed to a trickle and Andrew had to get a full-time job, leaving Mindy to run the restaurant by herself.

Around this time, one of the couple’s children showed them a video of someone making rolled ice cream.

Rolled ice cream uses a heavier cream than normal ice cream and has a much higher melting point, allowing it to last longer at room temperature. It’s made by chopping up various ingredients such as Oreo and caramel on a cold plate, pouring the liquid cream base over it, stirring it up and flattening it, and finally rolling it off the plate with a spatula.

Inspired by the video, Andrew said they started making plans to serve rolled ice cream at the diner but due to the pandemic, couldn’t arrange an inspector to OK the addition of that food item to their existing menu.

To get around the obstacle, they served the ice cream out of a food trailer and it was an instant hit.

“We realized we needed to get bigger,” said Andrew, who added that while food prices have skyrocketed as a result of pandemic-related supply chain issues, ice cream has remained pretty stable. They recognized it as potentially profitable.

Not sensing a huge market for the business in Marion, however, Andrew and Mindy set their sights on the Cadillac area. Andrew said Cadillac is an ideal location because part of the business’s appeal is the actual process of making the ice cream, which can be a lot of fun to watch.

“There’s an art to it,” Andrew said. “And people come to Cadillac from around the area for their entertainment.”

When they looked at the building at the corner of North Mitchell Street and Bell Avenue, Andrew said they initially were only interested in purchasing the northern 1,200-square-foot part of the structure, as the remaining 4,800-square-feet was in pretty rough shape.

The building owner offered to make a number of facility repairs, including new roof tiles, parking lot repaving and HVAC replacement to entice the Faulmans to purchase the entire building.

Andrew said they decided to think it over during a vacation to Tennessee.

By coincidence, one of the places they visited during their trip was an axe-throwing range, which he immediately recognized as something that could be popular in Northern Michigan. That’s when they made the decision to turn the larger section of the building into Skeggox Axe Throwing.

“Skeggox” means viking battle axe, Andrew said. Its literal translation is “bearded axe.”

Andrew said axe throwing businesses have been rapidly popping up throughout the U.S. since around 2019.

Skeggox has six, 12-foot lanes with two targets in each. Each lane is separated by wire to prevent axes from bouncing into adjacent lanes. The lane length is dictated by standards established by the World Axe Throwing League. Andrew said 12 feet is the length it takes for a hand axe to make one 360-degree rotation.

It doesn’t take a lot of strength the throw an axe, and much of the precision is dictated by technique, said Andrew, who admits that Mindy is much better at it than he is.

There are a number of different ways to compete in axe throwing, including best out of 10 rounds, games such as H.O.R.S.E., and others.

They’ll have axes on hand for people to use but they also welcome customers to bring their own axes, if they prefer. Customers will be able to purchase 30 minutes of axe-throwing at a time.

Four full-time and two part-time employees will explain to customers the proper way to throw an axe (and not throw an axe) and monitor the action in the lanes to ensure everyone is throwing safely.

With room for eight more lanes in the building, Andrew said they’re considering adding longer lanes for full-length axes but they haven’t decided that quite yet.

Later this year, he said they’ll be offering mobile axe throwing for customers who’d like a lane set up for private parties.

Andrew said the rolled ice cream shop also will have four full-time and two part-time employees.

Both businesses will be having grand openings on Saturday. Hours of operation at the ice cream shop will be noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tuesday will be closed to walk-in business but customers can reserve a time on that day for private functions. It will be a similar schedule at Skeggox. | 775-NEWS (6397)