Mac and Bob’s named Small Business of the Year


Shawn Nowlin


On October 1, the Roanoke Regional Chamber’s 33rd Annual Small Business Awards took place. The purpose of the event is to showcase the accomplishments of the region’s small businesses and nonprofits.

When Mac and Bob’s Restaurant was nominated earlier this year, co-owner Bob Rotanz had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. Months later, the Chamber notified Rotanz that his business was a finalist for two categories: “Business-to-Consumer Services” and “2019 Small Business of the Year.” No one knew who the winners were going to be until it was announced at the ceremony.

When asked why he thinks Mac and Bob’s won both categories, Rotanz replied, “In part, I think because our bankruptcy was in the news so much and the fact that we have been in business for almost 40 years. After the year that we just had, it is really unbelievable to win this award.”

Serving high-quality food and providing great customer service are essential to any restaurant’s success, something that Rotanz and co-owner Joe Dishaw realized early on. When Mac and Bob’s opened in 1981, it just had ten bar stools. Today, it has a seating capacity of 330.

From the shrimp tacos to the fried mushrooms, almost everything at Mac and Bob’s is made from scratch. There are many popular items on the menu – chicken tenders, salads, tuna sandwiches and hamburgers. However, the most popular item by far are the calzones. Rotanz estimates that approximately 700,000 of them have been sold over the last three decades.

Mac and Bob’s built up its loyal customer base the old-fashioned way: by trying to put out a consistent product, hiring the right people, training and being available to interact with customers and friends.

“We have regulars who drive for hours every week and they tell us we provide an experience that they can’t get anywhere else,” Rotanz said. “People have countless restaurant options they can choose so we are always appreciative when they decide to spend time with us.”

Roanoke County resident James Anderson was not surprised that Mac and Bob’s won the 2019 Small Business of the Year Award. Neither was Kyle Williams and Travis Rogers, Vinton residents who say they’ve been eating at the restaurant for over a decade.

“The Small Business Awards selection committee was impressed by the growth Mac and Bob’s has experienced and the restaurant’s ability to overcome adversity, including four recessions,” said Roanoke Regional Chamber President and CEO Joyce Waugh. “Mac and Bob’s also received high scores for its contributions to the community and commitment to its employees.”

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