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Mountain Home Magazine

Relaxe at Three Birds

May 01, 2024 09:00AM ● By Gayle Morrow

Eat first or throw first. Hmmm.

“We recommend throwing first,” says Debra Loehnert, who owns and operates Three Birds restaurant and the Axe Lounge with her husband, John. “Then we can have your table ready for you.”

Three Birds has been at 73 East Market Street for twenty-one years. The six-floor steel building was once a car dealership (and there is still a car elevator on the premises). But other than the spaciousness and the floor-to-ceiling windows upstairs, nothing remains of the dealership days except the memories. The dining areas are warm and classy, and can be intimate or expansive depending on the number of guests. Be sure to take a few minutes to look at the paintings—they’re done in a variety of genres and styles, but they all have three birds in them.

Dinner can begin with cocktails from the full service bar, then appetizers such as oysters on the half shell, Three Birds harbor fish soup, or toasted corn and Chesapeake crab cakes. It’s up to you whether you share. Salad options include baby greens with Modena-balsamic vinaigrette, kale and quinoa, featuring cranberries and goat cheese, and spinach with pears, bacon, and pickled red onion. Entrée choices range from roasted vegetable étouffée to New York strip or New Zealand rack of lamb, and from pistachio-leek encrusted halibut to pan-seared scallops. Menu offerings change with the seasons, and there are nightly specials. The focus remains on fresh ingredients, sourced locally as much as possible, then designed and combined in innovative ways.

As for the Axe Lounge, the space where cars were once displayed was a banquet room for the first twenty years of Three Birds’ existence. Post-covid, “the banquets didn’t come back,” Debra says.

“We had this huge space, and thought ‘What can we do with it?’” They’d enjoyed an axe throwing outing with friends, so, throwing caution and a few axes to the wind, the Axe Lounge was born in July of 2023. The response has been very positive. Debra says people came up last December during Sparkle to throw axes and enjoy the parade from the birds-eye view of Market Street.

There are six lanes, each with a hemlock target at the end. “We decided to go with digital games,” Debra says. That means each lane, complete with protective barriers to guard against errant axes, has its own set-up to project the game onto the target. Games include tic-tac-toe, zombie hunter, seasonal and holiday-themed games, and a standard bullseye target.

“We do have axeperts,” she says, grinning. “You don’t have to know what you’re doing. You don’t have to be a lumberjack.” There are World Axe Throwing League-approved axes here to use, but “we do allow you bring your own axe.”

“Really the only rule is that you have to wear close-toed shoes,” Debra adds.

But, for dinner, it’s okay for your toes to be exposed.

Three Birds is open Tuesday through Saturday. The bar opens at 4 p.m. and dinner service starts at 5. The Axe Lounge is open Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s a good idea to reserve lanes, as the Axe Lounge sometimes has a queue. Call (607) 936-8862 or visit

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