The Broad Axe
Continuing Great Food & Entertainment Traditions for Almost Half a Century
By Jane Schmidt and photos by Turner Photography Studio
The Broad Axe, a distinctive downtown Hagerstown landmark since its humble beginnings in 1971, offers its patrons a relaxing pub atmosphere that includes hearty fare, friendly and professional staff, a well-stocked bar, and variety of weekly musical entertainment.
President and owner Robert (Bob) Foutch purchased the restaurant in March 2012. “I was looking at changing my career during that time,” shares Bob, a former self-employed insurance agent. “I loved when the band I was in played there. Plus I wanted a more exciting job I could do while still being my own supervisor. I saw the potential of the restaurant and building and decided to go for it.”
Bob, along with his wife Michele and his brother Kevin, who is the restaurant’s general manager, as well as several family members and friends worked together as a team, extensively renovating and updating the pub restaurant/bar to exude a warm, inviting upscale pub ambience. Renee Gamby, owner of #noteworthylettering, Foutch family friend and artist married to The Broad Axe’s bartender, Dustin “Ducky” Gamby, is creating the bulkhead mural and plans to redesign the restaurant’s front window.
“We’ve brought the luster, brightness, and quality back,” Bob adds. “We made sure we kept The Broad Axe’s original charm and character. We upgraded the seating, lighting, bathrooms, and kitchen to provide patrons an enjoyable atmosphere.”
The Broad Axe’s fare pays homage to pub-style dishes emphasizing quality and freshness, all served in generously-sized portions at reasonable prices. “All our menu items are made on-site using the freshest ingredients,” explains Bob. “We make everything ourselves in-house, from our sauces and dressings to our Old Bay® seasoned kettle chips and fresh-cut fries, sandwiches, and entrees. We also offer locally-made desserts, including peanut butter pie, which has since become a customer favorite.”
Chef Tom Kaufman works closely with Bob to develop a rotation of taste-tempting sandwiches, salads, weekend entrees, and desserts. “We aim to do spins and flairs on great-tasting American cuisine,” Bob shares. “Our weekend focus centers on offering our customers more elaborate dinner specials.”
Popular menu items include tender, moist, and flavorful Midwest pork tenderloin, a Foutch family favorite, derived from a dish Bob’s family enjoyed while living in the region during his early years; a mighty appetizer menu brimming with tasty, satisfying “Axe Snax”; daily “Pick Two” lunch specials featuring a vast array of hearty deli sandwiches and burgers, including vegetarian options with portabella mushrooms accompanied with either homemade Old Bay® kettle chips or fresh-cut fries and zesty, crisp dill pickle; freshly made salads which patrons with heartier appetites may top with their choice of homemade tuna, BBQ bacon chicken or crab salad; homemade soup selections available daily in bowl or cup portions; and rotating dinner entrée specials showcased each weekend. “Chef Tom puts forth a unique spin on traditional items, providing our patrons with an enjoyable, memorable eating experience,” Bob explains.
Bob shares that the pub/eatery is popular with new and regular diners alike from all over the four-state region. “A lot of people have a history of enjoying The Broad Axe. Since my ownership seven years ago, we have many early loyal customers returning and visiting regularly. We’ve gotten great support from former owners and have formed a special bond with many of them, most of whom have become part of our regular family of customers,” Bob enthuses. “It’s great fun hearing their stories and those of other patrons who came here throughout the restaurant’s long history.”
The Broad Axe’s well-stocked bar features an impressive 20-tap beer selections, an in-depth and diverse selection of rotating craft beer options, a myriad of Huckleberry® hard lemonade beverages, plus a wide assortment of cocktails, whiskies, and rail liquor drinks. “We have a great relationship with craft brewers and distributors to ensure our patrons great selection and variety,” adds Bob. “The Broad Axe has earned distinction as being the number one distributor of Tullamore DEW® whisky in Maryland.”
The Broad Axe holds its daily Happy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m., featuring discounts on full pour draft or bottled beers and wines, as well as offering patrons specially-priced rail liquor drinks. “We have a great relaxing atmosphere. Our patrons are from all walks of life,” shares Bob. “Many regulars come by to enjoy their lunch break, unwind after their workday, or gather together relaxing with friends.”
In addition to its upscale pub atmosphere and vast food menu and beverage options, The Broad Axe is a well-known popular music venue. Bob is deeply rooted with Tri-State area bands and musicians and still plays in the Back Roads Blues Band with his brothers Dave and Kevin; drummer Trent Renshaw, The Broad Axe’s craft beer liaison and bartender who also puts on the Jazz Nights; and saxophonist Bill Sinclair. “We have a variety of regional bands and musicians performing here each week. We host Jazz Evenings on Thursdays and live bands every Saturday. We’re extending our musical entertainment to include weekly open mikes for singers and songwriters on Wednesday nights that will be starting soon,” explains Bob.
The Broad Axe staff ensures patrons have a great time. “Our staff is warm, friendly, and professional. They want to know our patrons and what they like. We provide a safe, friendly neighborhood bar atmosphere. It’s a great place to enjoy unwinding, whether doing so after a work day or getting together with family and friends,” concludes Bob.