MacKenzie Manley has no problem with hip, modern bars, but that’s not her speed.
“They’re all bright and shiny and new school,” she said. “I wanted the bar you can’t find anywhere.”
In Mack’s Tavern, Manley says she has built a place where a person can pony up to the bar, order a drink and make new friends.
“Everybody calls it home,” Manley said of the pub at 381 Miamisburg Centerville Road in Washington Twp., Montgomery County. “It’s been a hell of a ride. I love it.”
Described as a “a laid-back neighborhood bar with amazingly good food,” Mack’s recently celebrated its third anniversary.
The adoration for Manley and Mack’s shined through in the results of Dayton.com’s Best of Dayton contest.
The 5,000-square-foot tavern known for its pizzas, in-house ginger beer and award-winning Bloody Marys grabbed five first place awards in the Dayton.com Best of Dayton contest: Best Bar Bathroom, Best Bartender (Holly Henry), Best Dive Bar, Best Karaoke and Best Trivia.
The bar that gets it name from Manley’s nickname, “Mack,” scored second place in Best Place to Play Pool and Best Place to Watch the Game.
Manley said she was particularly proud of victories in the sought-after Best Dive Bar and Best Bar Bathroom.
Mack’s bathroom is an oasis of femininity with its pink paint, bedazzled soap and towel dispensers and butterfly ceiling.
“Glitter makes everything better,” Manley said.
Manley’s decorations haven’t survived as well in the Second Amendment-themed men’s room, but that clearly doesn’t bother Mack’s regular Johnny Sullivan, who uses a wheelchair.
He said Manley went the extra mile to make the bar and its bathroom “Johnny-friendly.”
“It is a good place to hang out and have fun, play darts and pool,” Sullivan said of Macks.
“Dive bar” doesn’t exactly describe Mack’s entirely, and it is clear that Manley and her staff put blood, sweat and tears into transforming the space that previously held L2 Marketing Research into a bar with such a loyal following.
Mack’s is larger than it looks on the outside. There is a wall of TVs above the bar, a three-table pool room, foosball, about four dart boards and a front patio. The wall is filled with vintage bar signs.
Manley wants to add a back patio as well.
Some of the bar’s decorations are from Newtown Party Center, the carryout once owned by Manley’s parents, Bill and Kaye Manley, at Little Richmond and Union roads in Trotwood.
Among the treasures is a can’t miss 7-Up sign. Her grandmother’s old dresser now serves as a popcorn machine table.
Speaking of food, Mack’s menu is far from typical bar food.
The menu includes Chewie Boar Bombs (pork short rib lollipops), a Mack and Cheese Pita Pizza, the Cheesy Roethlis Burger Pizza, Bianco Pizza, Smurf-tastic Shrooms and Not Your Grandma’s Bread (toasted buttery naan bread smothered in special cheese, spice and sour cream).
Paul Erickson, a Mack’s regular and once-a-week cook, said the bar has great atmosphere, bartenders and regulars.
Manley pointed out that bartender Andrea Russ, for instance, went above and beyond to help her stain Mack’s wood.
“It is just a good neighborhood bar like Cheers,” Erickson said.