‘Alcohol is in my blood:’ MacKenzie Manley on why she founded her namesake pub

Mack's Tavern owner is the Dayton.com Daytonian of the Week

In 2016, less than a year after she opened her namesake pub, Mack’s Tavern in Washington Twp., MacKenzie Manley scored a national shout-out from a Buzzfeed columnist for her idea to reward patrons who didn’t drive home and instead left their cars parked in the bar’s parking lot overnight.

A week ago, Manley launched breakfast service on weekends at Mack’s, and she offers free coffee to anyone who shows up in their pajamas.

“I have tried to do everything else to survive, why not become a breakfast diner? Right now I’d sell my soul to pay rent if anyone would buy it,” Manley said.

Manley is still coming up with ideas to help her customers and to try to keep her tavern at 381 Miamisburg-Centerville Road afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, and she is the Dayton.com Daytonian of the Week this week. Here’s more about MacKenzie, in her own words.

What led you to launch Mack’s Tavern?

My background in the industry is pretty simple: alcohol is in my blood. My Dad has worked for Bonbright Distributors all of my life, so I was born into the alcohol business. Growing up, our days were spent at my parents drive-through, helping out, and when I was old enough, I started working there. So it’s kind of all I know.

Mack’s was launched on paper-scrap idea, and long long days and nights of building it with family and friends, after I decided to open my own bar in 2013. I had attempted to buy three other bars, and none of the purchases worked out. So I thought heck, let’s just try to build my own and hope for the best.

What’s a typical work day for you?

A typical work day? Ha ha ha, there is no typical day in the bar owner life. Days and nights consist of doing anything that needs to be done. Bartending, cooking, product orders, fixing things, running errands, party planning, thinking of new promotions and anything else that might happen, but it’s all in a days work and worth it.

What brought you to Dayton, and why did you decide to settle in the area?

What brought me to Dayton from the country town of New Lebanon was that in 2006, I was asked to apply at Pour Haus as a bartender, which I had never done. I had only been a server. I got the job and fell in love with bartending, and knew this is what I wanted to do with my life. I then moved closer to work and have been here ever since.

What’s been your most recent professional challenge, and how did you push through the challenge?

My most recent challenge has been what everyone’s challenge is right now: how to re-invent your business so it doesn’t close, and how to keep your customers safe. I have cried many tears and tried every idea I can think of to keep my dream alive. We are still here, thanks to my wonderful employees, great friends and the community supporting Mack’s. We will continue to adapt however we must to stay open. So be prepared, ‘Rona: We will continue to fight to be here on the other side of all this.

What are your favorite places to eat and/or drink in the Dayton area other than Mack’s?

I don’t get to go many places to enjoy a beverage, but when I do, it is always to see Mindy at Theo’s Lounge (on Paragon Road in Washington Twp.). That is my favorite bar and bartender around! As for food, my favorites are Centerville Pizza and Slyder’s Tavern. They have the best food, around if you ask my taste buds.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Hmmm, what is my guilty pleasure ... . Chick-fil-A and watching bad TV with my dog Haze. I like really bad TV — 90 Day Fiance, Love after Lockup, Teen Mom, Siesta Key, and so on. Yes, they’re really bad.

What inspires you most about the Dayton area?

I’m most inspired by the Dayton community with how Daytonians can all come together when needed. No matter what is going on in people’s lives and businesses in Dayton, they will stop everything and help those who need helped. We definitely are Dayton Strong, and I’m proud to be a part of this kind of community.

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