By Leigh Ann Rutledge
MINERVA – After tossing the idea around, Mike and Cody McKenzie opened McKenzie’s Takeout Oct. 20 in Cap’s Plaza in Minerva.
The restaurant features home-cooked meals made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
“We have no freezer or fryer,” explained Mike.
Cody makes grocery runs on Monday and Thursday each week, buying local and seasonal ingredients as much as she can. Mike and Cody grow their own herbs and have a garden.
“This is something we always talked about doing,” Cody stated. “But we wanted life to stay the same for our daughter until she graduated high school and college.”
Mike plans the menus each week and posts them on the business Facebook page. Daily choices often include an entrée, sandwich, side and soup.
“I try to do soup and a sandwich through the week because lunch time is very busy,” Mike said.
Menus run on an approximate three-week rotation but Mike admits he is always adding new items. The menu also states, “Being that we use fresh ingredients, our supply for the day is all we have. Once an item sells out, that’s it until the next time. Sorry for the inconvenience.” A daily feature may include rigatoni with homemade meat sauce, served with bread, Shrimp Po Boy and Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup.
All the recipes used at the takeout are Mike’s own and are made from scratch. Mike makes his own sauces, soups and homemade noodles. A smoker allows him to offer brisket sandwiches with homemade potato salad, smoked pulled pork sandwiches or smoked BBQ meatloaf. He uses Brothers Fresh Sausage of Massillon for choices such as mild or hot sausage sandwich served with tri-colored peppers and onions.
“I always liked to cook,” Mike explained. “In high school, I was one of the few dudes in Home Ec.”
The couple went to an authentic Cuban restaurant in Florida. That experience became the inspiration for the popular Cuban sandwich. Mike tweeked the recipe until he was satisfied. The sandwich is made of ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, spicy mustard and pickles on a crispy French baguette.
Through the lunch hour and into early afternoon, the takeout has three people working, Mike, Cody and Robin McKenzie, Mike’s mother. In the evening, Mike is by himself.
Having a small staff is one of the main reasons the couple chose to have a daily menu.
Cody, who graduated from Minerva High School in 1997, takes care of the business side. Along with grocery runs, she takes orders, runs the cash register and does whatever is needed. “We try to get you in and out the door in 10 minutes or less,” Cody stated.
Mike and Cody are in the process of getting set-up for a pizza oven to make breads, stromboli and pizza to sell by the slice.
Mike graduated from Carrollton High School in 1994. He began cooking at Atwood Resort in 1993, before spending nearly two decades cooking for Malone and Walsh universities.
Working for the colleges gave Mike time to test the waters during the summer doing private catering and cooking for friends.
Cody has worked at Colfor for 12 years and often took food to share with her co-workers. Using them as “guinea pigs,” they received excellent feedback. Friday nights, Mike prepared meals for the second and third shift at Colfor, which numbered at times up to 59.
Catering for Colfor helped get the word out, the couple noted, and they are having a good response from local business people. One of the issues Mike has daily, is estimating how much food to prepare. Mike’s previous cooking experiences have him familiar with cooking in large batches and he is increasing the amount each week.
Mike spruces up the menu for Saturdays, featuring homemade Alfredo with chicken meatballs served over rice, grilled salmon, strip steak and shrimp skewers with homemade pineapple salsa.
McKenzie’s Takeout is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Hours may increase during the summer. Other businesses in Cap’s Plaza are working together and planning a car show and barbeque in the future. They also cater events.
McKenzie’s Takeout is located at 15601 Lincoln St. SE, Minerva. Walk-in or order ahead by calling 330-522-4383. The weekly menu can be found at www.facebook.com/mckenziestakeout.