MacKenzie opened Steeltown Take-out two weeks ago in an effort to give the town a boost and help build it up. “It’s time we started doing things in our own town,” he said.
“I totally believe in this town, my heart and soul is in this town.”
The restaurant offers standard take-out fare such as hamburgers and onion rings. Originally, MacKenzie thought he would sell just ice cream and hotdogs, but decided to expand those offerings to include fish and chips.
He said once that decision was made, they chose to provide a larger range of meal options, including chicken strips and poutine, made from hand-cut French fries.
With help from a full-time, paid cook and several family members who donate their time to help run the new business – taking orders and cutting the fries – MacKenzie is hoping it will be a success.
“I’d just like to show people if you want your town to be something, you have to support and be in it,” he said. “Let’s keep doors open, not shut them.”
The retired millwright spent much of his working career travelling “all over the place,” and said “it’s nice to be home.”
He constructed the building that houses the new restaurant about 10 years ago, and one of his three sons operated a car wash from it. When he moved on, another son used it for his mechanical engineering business, but now he’s moved on as well.
Growing up in Trenton, MacKenzie said he’s seen the town decline in recent years, with the closure of the TrentonWorks railcar plant in 2007 and then last year’s departure of DSTN, which was building wind towers from the same facility.
“I think we can take this town back to what it was,” he said, noting that it’s more like a village now, without a bank, drug store or liquor store.
“If we don’t support it, we can’t have it. I believe we could have a nice town and lots of things in it, but it takes time and money. And we have to have support and people who care for it.”
So far, response to the take-out has been positive, and MacKenzie is hoping that people will support his venture.
Steeltown Take-out has five outdoor picnic tables, and MacKenzie said he would like to have more. As revenue starts to build, he also has plans to pave the parking lot to “make it nicer.”
“I hope people support it,” he said. “If they don't, we can’t move forward.”
If the backing is there, he has many other plans.
He’d like to add a dining room area to the restaurant, and build a coin-operated Laundromat on the back of the building. Eventually he wants to start a taxi business and offer courier services too.
“Hopefully at the end of the rainbow, I’ll have a workforce of 14 to 16 people,” he said.
“I like the big picture. Some people may say I’m a dreamer, but what’s life without a dream?”