The Fort Tavern and Bar brings a “big city” feel to the Hays community

By Hailey Chapman Hays Dail News

The Fort Tavern and Bar has officially opened and is offering Hays a new set of attractions to liven up the normal bar experience. Located where long

Located where longtime bar The Wild Rose used to be, The Fort is a multilevel attraction that offers food, drinks and fun.

Guests can enjoy axe throwing, duck bowling, virtual reality games, as well as regular bar activities including darts, pool and shuffleboard. An axe throne is seated at the entrance for guests to take photos and there are even games that can be played for free at the guests tables.

There are two features that are coming soon including a party room as well as phase two of building, remodeling of the patio. The Fort plans to add a pet friendly patio, a feature that is not common in Hays.

“The vision was to make a place in town to try and help eliminate the “there’s nothing to do in Hays” comment. Give people something to do that they normally would have to travel out of town to a bigger city to experience and make it available for a broader age group to enjoy,” Owner Wes Rathbun stated.

The VR experience offers many different games including a paranormal experience where guests can venture into haunted buildings and see what lies behind their doors.

Duck bowling is essentially a smaller version of regular bowling. The Fort offers this activity free to children six and under, each lane is equipped with bumpers. There is no shoe rental necessary, guests are able to wear their own shoes.

Axe throwing requires guests to be at least 13 years of age and requires signing a waiver. There are rules posted on the walls and employees are required to supervise during each party’s time. Employees will ensure that guests are following guidelines, being sure to monitor that guests are not too intoxicated to where safety is an issue.

Extra precaution was taken when implementing the axe throwing feature to The Fort.

“We ordered a special system that has less bounce back, and we put in mats to absorb the impact, reducing bounce back even more. There are cubbies to put the axes in instead of handing to the next person, and lane dividers to prevent axes from other lanes crossing over, and a cage around the whole thing to separate bystanders from the lanes,” Rathbun shared.

The axe throwing system allows guests to pick from different games including a traditional target, venturing on to connect four, tic tac toe and zombie mode.

The Fort has partnered with their neighbors, Defiance Brewing Co., to provide their guests with snacks to accompany their different attractions.

“We have anything from Detroit Style Pizzas to hamburgers, chicken strips, sliders, and so on,” Rathbun said.

Though The Fort does offer dining, the focus never centered around dining, but rather the unique attractions not yet seen in Hays.

“We tried to keep the menu small and more finger food style to start with and will look at adding items in the future. Our focus was not on becoming a restaurant but to be an Attraction Place, and the food is just a bonus so people have it all in one,” Rathbun added.

As Rathbun acquires a larger staff, late night snacks such as pizza rolls, pretzel bites and a pretzel board- an enormous pretzel filled with various meats and cheeses served with beer cheese and mustardwill be added to their regular menu.

Another unique aspect that The Fort has implemented is their self-pouring beer taps. Guests can speak with a bartender upon arrival and charge up a Beer Card. Once guests get their card, they can go to the 30 tap beer wall, set their card in the card reader and pour their chosen beer.

Guests will be charged by the ounce and can choose either a pint glass or a flight board, which gives the opportunity to try multiple beers in smaller portions.

While the self-pouring taps are a new feature to Hays, there are different safety measures in order to have been implemented to prevent overserving.

“The system has two main safety features built into it, one being a timer where your card goes into basically a sleep mode, the other is the same sleep mode but after a few beers,” Rathbun said.

Guests can, however, talk with a bartender to wake the card back up, so long as the guest’s safety is not called into question. While having a good time is encouraged, bartenders will be avidly ensuring no guests go beyond the legal serving level.

The self-pouring taps currently have 30 different beers that will rotate regularly, as well as six domestic beers behind the bar. The beer wall at The Fort is only the third to be installed in the state of Kansas.

The Fort is open everyday from 11 am-2 am with axe throwing and VR offered until 11. Kitchen hours are from 11-2 and 5-9.

VR will cost guests $12/game, while bowling and axe throwing are both $8/30 minutes of $12/hour.

“Whether you’re running in the VR machine, Throwing Axes, Bowling or experiencing any of our other amenities, the whole point is to have a good time,” Rathbun said.

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