Macado’s restaurants are memorable not only for their menus but for the unique atmosphere each one has with a veritable feast for the eyes on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.
When the new Macado’s opens in Vinton later this year what patrons will see when they enter– an eclectic combination of cartoon, antique, and local nostalgic décor– will have been assembled by Brittany Hayes, who comes from Vinton.
Hayes grew up on Clearview Drive, participated in the Roanoke County after-school gifted art program at W.E. Cundiff Elementary and William Byrd Middle Schools, and graduated from William Byrd in the Class of 2009. Hayes says she was a “weird art kid” always wrapped up in art from a young age.
She went on to major in Studio Art at Hollins University. Hayes said she fell in love with the university and its art program after just stepping into the art building and “that was all she wrote.” She submitted the portfolio of work she had developed in AP Art in high school that led to some scholarships at Hollins.
Although she knew finding a job in studio art is difficult, since positions as art teachers or art directors are few and far between, she loved art and wanted a challenging career where she could enjoy doing something she loved.
After she graduated, Hayes worked at various part-time jobs– at one time she worked three at once– including four years at Michael’s as a certified custom framer. She was initially applying for a job in the floral department but in taking the placement test showed an aptitude for framing which led to her being offered that job instead. She also worked part-time in an art gallery in downtown Roanoke and taught in the Roanoke County gifted art program she once attended herself.
Hayes said her position at Macado’s came up “in a whirlwind.” She had been setting up her work at an art show at the Sunday Pop-Up Art Market for emerging local artists at a studio in Roanoke. There she met Macado’s employee Matt Pendleton, who put her in touch with owner Richard Macher. After a fairly brief conversation, he offered her a full-time job with benefits. It felt right, and she took a leap of faith. She has been with Macado’s for going on two years as the art director/framer.
When walking into any Macado’s, one’s eyes are immediately drawn to the colossal number of framed objects and photographs on the walls. Hayes works weekdays in an enormous warehouse near downtown Roanoke to produce them.
The building is packed with framing tools and materials and most likely tens of thousands of items that need framing– album covers, Rolling Stone magazines, sports jerseys, and numerous photographs of Macher’s family, friends, and customers, which he likes to display in his restaurants. There are also objects like airplanes, gas pumps, a gorilla from the Boone, N.C. eatery, a giant tree with a face, mannequin heads of the Three Stooges, and so much more.
Currently, there is a growing collection of memorabilia Hayes is accumulating specifically for the Vinton Macado’s– sports letters, letter jackets, and game programs from William Byrd, photographs of teams, and Dogwood festival items. The local Boy Scout troop has offered to contribute. She is on the lookout for Blue Ridge Parkway mementos to include. While each Macado’s has some displays that are not specific to the location, many are related in some way.
Hayes said the collectibles come “from everywhere,” some from antique malls, some even ordered from Amazon. Macher is an enthusiastic collector and finds many items in his travels.
It takes hundreds and hundreds of items to fill up the walls and ceiling at a Macado’s, often 200 large pieces with lots of smaller fill-ins– what she describes as a “smorgasbord” of art. Some wall space is occupied by big screen TVs and jukeboxes. Each restaurant generally has some Rolling Stones covers, some sports jerseys, and a music wall. The bar areas are generally sports-oriented. Even the restrooms are decorated
Hayes said Macher is heavily involved in all aspects of his business, very hands on, and knows what he wants each restaurant to be. He likes to cultivate an eclectic “pub atmosphere.” His focus is on remaining relevant in an ever-changing market and building a legacy restaurant business. He continually updates and upgrades; nothing is static.
He wants to keep customers excited about frequenting Macado’s and eager to eat there whether close to home or out of town. If you are from Roanoke and see a Macado’s while traveling, you are confident that you will receive great food and great service in a fun atmosphere.
Hayes’ job of managing the displays is one of the final steps before a new restaurant or renovated restaurant opens, although occasionally one of her design pieces turns out to be embedded in a wall, like three guitar cases recently for the Boone store. Hayes said that Macher is quite artistic in choosing what and how items are displayed and knows what he wants but allows her to add her own flair.
She loves her job in part because it is truly never boring. Hayes says she learned the basics of framing in the art program at Hollins since artists like to frame and preserve their own works, but she learned from the Macado’s master carpenter how to use the framing tools— miter saws and joiners, and an angle trimmer. She cuts the glass for her projects. She sews jackets and jerseys to mats delicately with monofilament thread. She gets to run a forklift. She has worked with Twist and Turns metal artists to design some hanging display brackets with the Macado’s logo and “See You at the DO’s” theme.
Hayes said each Macado’s generally has a display wall of photographs Macher has taken himself, of customers, of events that have taken place there, of employees and their families, in addition to Macher’s own family. She said he likes to show his appreciation for his customers and employees and to show that they are an integral part of the success of Macado’s, by being part of the décor. He wants them to be able to find themselves enshrined on a wall to commemorate their experience.
Hayes said she does work for all 21 Macado’s stores out of the Roanoke offices. She occasionally travels for work, but generally Macher brings items to her for framing or repair. She sometimes does work for his other properties, including what she describes as a great trip to the beach for interior design work at some of his rental properties.
Hayes continues to do what she considers to be studio art on the side, with a mixed media art show at the Aurora Studio Gallery on Campbell Avenue in December. She draws just for her own enjoyment in her spare time.
Macher said, “Brittany is an accomplished artist who makes a picture or a display look like a piece of art. She has vision and creativity, and her future is bright as she makes each Macado’s unique and interesting. She also is a great person.”
Macher opened the first Macado’s in 1978 in downtown Roanoke and has continued to add locations. His restaurants can be found throughout central and southwest Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Currently, new restaurants are under construction in Vinton and Winchester, with extensive renovations and an addition to the Boone location.