by Melissa Barringer
“Growing like mad” is the term General Manager Kaci Pratt of the new Mackenzie River Pizza Co. used to describe the restaurant’s expansion. Mackenzie River opened its first Washington location in Spokane on the north end of Nevada street this past June. The restaurant has been developing since 1993 when the first restaurant opened in Bozeman, Mont. Since then, 13 restaurants have opened within its original state as well as four outside Montana.
The expansion does not only pertain to the growth of the company, but to the menu as well. Soon the name of the restaurant will reflect the changes in the menu and have two new additions to its title: Grill and pub.
“People just walk in the door and think it is just pizza,” assistant manager Kellen Munden said.
Beyond a menu of pizzas, there are sandwiches, burgers, chicken and fish entrees, pastas and more. Munden said the most popular items off of the menu are the meatloaf along with the fish and chips. When it comes to the fish and chips, beyond the “sweet”, “spicy” and “unique” breading, Pratt described it has one secret ingredient that adds to the experience.
“A little Mackenzie love,” Pratt said.
The secret ingredient may be one thing that sets this restaurant apart from others, but Munden said there are three aspects that make Mackenzie stand out from all the rest: Mackenzie’s own crust recipe, the fresh toppings that are cut daily and the creativity of the menu .
“You’re getting fresh toppings and a unique pizza,” Munden said.
One favorite of Pratt’s is the Flathead pizza which is made with an Alfredo sauce, fajita chicken, bacon, mozzarella and veggies. Other Mackenzie River toppings include a signature ranch dressing, spicy buffalo sauce, sweet and smokey barbecue sauce and fresh pesto.
A favorite of Whitworth senior Kellen Pacheco is a Mackenzie River original appetizer called Pesto Lodgepoles. The Lodgepoles, according to the menu, are sourdough sticks that are covered with basil pesto and melted cheese. Pacheco encourages people to try them out.
“They are a must have,” Pacheco said.
Unique combinations like the Flathead pizza are often a product of employee creations. Cooks are encouraged to experiment with new combinations. It is one of Munden’s favorite things to do in the kitchen. It also fits in with the company’s motto: Work hard, play hard.
“The Mackenzie River mission is to provide a distinctive dining experience in an atmosphere unique to Montana,” according to the mission statement. “We do it by offering delicious food, creatively prepared, served by an energetic staff. We are passionate about exceeding expectations.”
Whitworth senior Bryce Griffiths has gone through the employee orientation where being friendly was stressed. Griffiths has worked at Mackenzie River since its opening and agrees that the atmosphere is relaxed as well as stressful.
“It’s a very competitive work place, but is is also very friendly,” Griffiths said.
The kitchen was designed to have a large open window to allow customers to see the employees working. Sometimes a customer can even see the chefs singing.
“That is my favorite part, the employees and the atmosphere,” Munden said.
Mackenzie River is offering Whitworth students who come with their ID cards a 10 percent discount. There will also be a new restaurant opening up in early November on the South Hill in order to spread more “Mackenzie love” to their first locations in Washington.