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12-26-02: Owner considers area restaurant his field of dreams
Charities offered chance to share profits

The Daily Standard

    Owner Jeff Macke has big plans for the former Carousel Ballroom - turning it into a dining and entertainment complex that will draw people from near and far.
    "This is my field of dreams," he says looking around the interior, which now sports a '50s and '60s theme. "My philosophy is give people a reason to come and they will come."
    The uniquely designed Chips 'N Giggles Comedy Calfe, located at the front of the establishment south of Celina on U.S. 127, already serves menu dinners Wednesdays through Sundays between the hours of 4:30 and 9 p.m. It also serves as a venue for comedy acts from throughout the Midwest.
    Macke introduced a Sunday brunch buffet in late October with more than 40 different breakfast and lunch items to delight the palate. In addition to the area's only 1959 pink Cadillac salad bar, visitors will find stations serving made-to-order omelets and Belgian waffles. Other offerings include french toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage links, biscuits and gravy, honey baked ham, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and assorted pastries from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
     Beverages are included in the price, which runs $9.99 for ages 12 and up, $6.99 for ages 8-11, and $3.99 for youngsters 3-7. There is no charge for children under the age of 2.
    Macke invited charitable organizations to get in on the action, with the St. Peter Neurological Center leading the way. Representatives seat diners, man the cash register, serve beverages, make waffles and omelets, bus tables and scrape plates in exchange for 10 percent of the proceeds as well as tips.
    "This has been a wonderful experience for our clients," said St. Peter Assistant Director Zelda Zizelman. "It also is providing needed money for our program."
    The center collected more than $1,500 during the eight-week stint, with the Mercer County 4-H Program taking over during the ensuing weeks. Other organizations are waiting in line for their turn, according to Macke. In addition, area churches will receive 10 percent of the proceeds when members of the congregation show a Sunday bulletin. Approximately 24 churches are on the list to receive checks every three months.
    "We really started promoting the Sunday brunch buffets at the Minster Oktoberfest," Macke says. "We printed up 20,000 flyers and passed out a lot of them."
    The proprietor also is busily preparing to launch The Carousel's Rock 'N' Roll Buffet, which he calls "the most awesome buffet in the USA," next year. A second kitchen has been added to serve up to 650 people per hour.
    Macke vows to have the largest buffet (more than 150 items) in the area with carving stations, a bountiful salad bar and desserts designed to tempt the most conscientious dieter. He is most excited about another aspect of the spread - the "Surfin' Buffet" complete with a waterfall and an array of seafood.  A '58 Corvette convertible has been built to hold 500 pounds of shrimp cocktail.
    "My goal is to make this buffet the biggest and best so people forget all the rest," he said. "The food is only the tip of the iceberg."
    His goal is to serve families between the hours of 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the 7:30-10 p.m. time frame geared to adults and couples.
    "At 10 p.m., the '57 Chevy that serves as a disc jockey booth will come to life," Macke said. "We'll have dancing until 2 a.m."
    He wants to attract Baby Boomers in search of a good meal and entertainment designed to bring back pleasant memories from "the good old days."
    Other offerings will include the Happy Days Gourmet Ice Cream Shop offering 16 flavors of gourmet ice cream plus some for the 21 and up age group, a portrait studio that will transform visitors into Greasers and Chicks and a gift shop featuring items reminiscent of the '50s and '60s.
    The entire building will receive a facelift with an artist's rendering showing a new facade complete with the Carousel name spelled out in 9-foot-tall letters on the north side of the building. The east side of the building will look like a barn and will display the Chips 'N Giggles sign.
    In addition, a clay model is in the works to show how the proposed 18-hole Chips 'N Giggles Putter Golf Course will look.
    Macke purchased The Carousel Ballroom in October 1986 and initially offered dances for the teen crowd, singles and big band aficionados. He brought in entertainers like Sha-Na-Na, the Charlie Daniels Band, Molly Hatchet, the Russ Morgan Band and comedian Gallagher. But Macke envisions more - a transformation to a dining as well as an entertainment complex.
    The previous owners, Bert and Clete Siegrist, also saw the need for transformation when they purchased the place back in 1946. Known as Shady Park at the time, the business included a 40-seat "Mom and Pop" restaurant and a gas station. A deck was added out back for open air dances. A lot of courting took place under the stars as musicians and crickets serenaded.
    "Everybody has a dream," Macke said. "I'm making mine a reality in the midst of Mercer County cornfields."


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2002
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822