Our Story

Keith Griswold (General Manager), Bob Rotanz (Owner), Joe Dishaw (Owner) 1980

Mac and Bob’s opened for business August 8th, 1980. Bob Rotanz and Jim “Mac” McEnerney, both Roanoke College graduates of 1978 and native New Yorkers, decided to open a restaurant across the street from their Alma Mater in downtown Salem, Virginia. Mac and Bob opened a ten stool “Sub Pub” selling New York style sandwiches and beer.

In October of 1980 Mac decided to move back to his hometown in New York and sold his interest in the restaurant to Bob Rotanz. In April of 1981 Mac and Bob’s moved down the street to the current location where the seating capacity increased from 10 to 36.  This was the time that Joe Dishaw, also a graduate of Roanoke College and lacrosse team mate, class of 1978, bought into the business and became Bob’s new partner.  Joe is also originally from New York.

Also in 1981, Keith Griswold, also from New York, was hired as our first manager and is now currently our General Manager.  Keith was also a team mate of Bob and Joe’s on the Roanoke College lacrosse team.

In 1982 Mac and Bob’s expanded from 36 seats to 90 seats. In 1985 the drinking age in Virginia was changed from 18 years old to 21. In order to attract a larger market Mac and Bob’s decided to expand both the menu and the restaurant. Joe Dishaw enrolled in the finest culinary school in the world, the Culinary Institute of America, located in Hyde Park, NY. Joe completed a 22 month chef program and graduated with honors.

In 1986 Mac and Bob’s expanded from 90 seats to 120 seats. Joe designed a new, more efficient kitchen that was four times the size of the previous kitchen. This kitchen, with new restaurant equipment, enabled Mac and Bob’s to make the transition from a pizza and sandwich menu to a full service restaurant with a more expanded menu.

Mac and Bob's Sub Pub, 1981

From 1986-1992 the restaurant’s popularity grew to a point where there were waiting lines almost every night, and weekend evenings were extremely busy with long waits for tables. In 1992 Mac and Bob’s invested in their largest expansion, doubling the size of the restaurant. The seating capacity went from 120 seats to 230 seats, including a 48-foot bar. Tony Reyes, another team mate on the lacrosse team, 1978 graduate and native New Yorker, invested with his friends and became a silent partner. Tony currently resides in Breezy Point, NY.

Finally, in 2006, Mac and Bob’s added an outdoor courtyard with a covered outdoor bar. This expansion increased the seating capacity from 230 to 330. In 2007 the Roanoke Times named Mac and Bob’s the Best Outdoor Dining Spot in the entire Roanoke Valley. Also, in 2012, Virginia Living Magazine named Mac and Bob’s Outdoor Dining as the best in Southwest Virginia.

In the spring of 2013 Mac and Bob’s expanded its craft beer draft selection from 15 to 40 with a total of 80 taps. We now offer a wide selection of fresh draft beer from local, regional, and national breweries.