By Paula Evans Neuman
Trenton hockey dad Ron Marcissuk Jr. saw a need at the Kennedy Recreation Center, heard other parents talk about it, and decided to go into business himself — with other private investors — to fill it.
Busy parents with skating kids spend a lot of time grabbing fast food, and often miss sitting down for family meals, he said. He knows. His family is in the same boat. He saw other area arenas, which include Chelsea’s and Fraser’s, with full-service restaurants on site, and wanted his hometown to have the same feature.
“I’ve heard the complaints — ‘it would be nice if we had this, or if would be nice if they had that,’” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to accommodate that. We thought about the customers’ needs.”
His new restaurant, Legends 1926 Bar & Grill, on the second floor of the Kennedy center, was built by his group, Kennedy Restaurant Group LLC, specifically to meet the needs of families using the arena. And if other customers want to come enjoy the fare and the atmosphere, that’s just fine, too.
The planning started a year ago. He negotiated at length with city officials to meet their needs and concerns, and was able to lease the center’s second floor, which had been vacant for about two years, for $42,000 a year, and gain all necessary permits.
The income and other revenues from the eatery, which opened recently and expects its liquor license soon, will help the city maintain the recreation center, said Tim Beaker, business operations manager for Trenton Parks and Recreation, a few days before the restaurant’s opening.
“I think it will add a nice atmosphere,” he said. “I think it will be nice for the parents. They can grab a bite to eat and a coffee.”
Or diners can enjoy appetizers, homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and pizza made in the restaurant’s three stone-fired pizza ovens. Children’s meals, including a beverage, are priced at $3.99, Marcissuk said, and all of the food offered by the restaurant can be ordered from the arena’s concession stand, too, including in the summer when the pool is open. Salads and soups from an arena concession stand? Yes.
“It’s all about the kids,” the new owner said. “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the kids. It’s going to be a family environment.”
Legends offers seating for 250 people, private party facilities and Wi-Fi and power outlets for parents who might want to get some work done on their laptops while they’re at the rink.
Marcissuk and his investors, who include former Detroit Red Wing Jason Woolley, spent a lot of money (they’d rather not disclose the total) renovating for Legends, and the improvements include big windows on both sides of the restaurant, so parents and other diners can watch the action on the ice and enjoy a meal or a beverage at the same time.
And if they’re seated at a table that isn’t next to a window, cameras in the rinks will broadcast on some of the facility’s 20 flat-screen TVs “so you can watch your skater,” Marcissuk said.
He is making an effort to use as many Michigan products as possible, including food, wine and beers, he said, and the restaurant adds about 20 new jobs to the area, as well.
Marcissuk and his investors are planning to open other restaurants in other metropolitan area arenas, and also plan to offer entertainment, including comedy nights, live bands, trivia nights and visits by professional athletes, from time to time at Legends 1926.
The restaurant is named “to commemorate all the legends in sports,” he said, and noted some of the great athletes who have come from Trenton. The “1926” part of the eatery’s name is tagged on to feature the “historic aspect of the origins of hockey,” he said. That’s the year the Detroit Red Wings was founded and joined the National Hockey League.
Opening any new restaurant is a risky business, he said, but the Trenton hockey-dad-turned-entrepreneur is confident that Legends will be an asset to the community and a successful venture.
“I spent enough time here (at the arena) to justify what we’re doing,” Marcissuk said, noting that he went to Carlson High School and that Kennedy has always been his home ice.
“We have faith that this is going to work,” he said. “We took pride in ourselves as builders and as owners. We want to reflect the pride of the city and the residents.”