INTERVIEW: Corey Sims talks about opening Mac’s Dough House, what’s new at Recbar, and the Holy Grail of arcades!

Until somewhat recently, I’ve never had much of a reason to spend any significant amount of time in Jeffersontown. That changed for me a few years ago when 3rd Turn Brewery and Recbar moved in to the area, a pair of establishments that since opening have become quintessential hangout spots for myself and a good chunk of my friends. Think about it, what else do you need for a righteous night with a few of your favorite people? You’ve got your spectacular brews at 3rd Turn, then you walk a block over to Recbar for some Street Fighter II and skee ball. Hell yeah, now we’re talkin’.

Thankfully, we have been gifted with another reason to get our asses out to J-Town as Recbar co-owner Corey Sims and crew have opened a new pizza joint called Mac’s Dough House which is located where Johnny V’s was previously at 10509 Watterson Trail. But this ain’t your ordinary pizza place, my friend. This spot has a bit of a unique twist to it: in addition to a creative menu of pizza options, there is also a selection of interesting macaroni & cheese-based dishes. Yeah, that’s right, you can stuff your face with pizza AND macaroni & cheese, a pairing I didn’t know I so desperately needed in my life until now. Oh, and did I mention they have a killer selection of booze options? Get a load of the full menu here.

To get a better handle on what these folks are up to, I reached out to Corey for an interview. Read on as he tells us what Mac’s Dough House is all about, what’s new at Recbar, and his own personal holy grail of arcades…

Never Nervous: As in most cool cities, Louisville has quite a few pizza joints around town. What’s different about yours? How does Dough’s Mac House stand out?

Corey Sims: Johnny V’s was a mainstay in J-Town for almost a decade. We wanted to keep the pizza joint tradition alive but present a twist that added something special. The idea for a mac & cheese menu originated from a conversation with our GM at Recbar, Drew. He had told us of a place where he grew who were known for these “loaded macs.” The idea was in the works for Recbar but as the Johnny V’s building presented itself, it made so much more sense.

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NN: What would you consider to be the theme of the restaurant? Is there one?

CS: I don’t know that I would be able to a specific theme on the spot. I describe the food selection as a kid’s menu built for an adult taste. That philosophy translates throughout the restaurant. Our decor features a mural of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters all sitting down at a Last Supper style table munching on some pizza and ooze. Our specialty drink menu features the Adult Juice Box which is Old Forester, organic apple juice, cinnamon and a fresh apple slice. Everything has a tiny element of fun that takes you back your childhood.

“I describe the food selection as a kid’s menu built for an adult taste.” 

NN: Where does the name “Mac’s Dough House” come from? How’d you come up with it?

CS: Mac & cheese is a huge feature alongside our pizza. We wanted to let people know that in the name but also let it be known that we will be making all our pizza dough fresh, in-house daily. All of our garlic knots and desserts feature housemade dough as well. Many people think that “Mac” is an actual person. He is actually a jackalope that is found hanging out behind the bar. In honor of Mac, you will find random jackalope artwork throughout the restaurant.

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NN: Is there a signature pizza that you’re especially proud of?

CS: My personal favorite is the Always Sunny Pie. It’s a Philly Cheesesteak pizza that features a buttery crust, cheez-whiz, mozzarella, shredded steak, bell peppers and onions.

NN: Are there plans to have any gluten-free or vegan options available on the menu?

CS: At the time, we are not featuring any gluten-free or vegan items. Trying to do a true gluten-free pizza that never encounters any gluten in our kitchen would be difficult. We are not ruling it out in the future but have no plans at the moment.

NN: What do your beer and liquor options consist of?

CS: We have 26 beers on tap, about 30 craft beers in cans, your standard domestic bottles, and a full selection of liquor. Our specialty cocktails include a frozen Rosé slushie, cherry Machattan, brown sugar old fashioned, adult juice box, Cougar Bait bloody mary and a sriracha margarita.

“Our specialty cocktails include a frozen Rosé slushie, cherry Machattan, brown sugar old fashioned, adult juice box, Cougar Bait bloody mary and a sriracha margarita.” 

NN: Why J-Town? What’s so special about that area in particular?

CS: J-Town is such an untapped part of town. 40299 is the most populated zip code in the city. There are a ton of people that live and work in the area. We are away from the hustle of downtown, Nulu, and the Highlands. 3rd Turn Brewery was a huge influence on the opening of Recbar and Mac’s. Seeing something a little different succeed was a big indicator that people wanted new options.

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NN: What’s new at Recbar? Any new arcades or menu items we should be aware of?

CS: We’ve recently added Marvel Super Heroes, Harley Davidson pinball and Super Mario pinball. We are getting some final details tweaked on a Family Guy pinball, Stargate pinball, Monopoly pinball, and Simpsons 4-player. After Gaslight Festival, we will be launching an updated menu featuring an exclusive Totcho menu. We elaborate on our current best sellers with a Mexican-style, Philly-style and southern pork offering. We’ll also be adding some appetizer rolls and a couple more tacos and sandwiches as well.

NN: Would you ever consider letting bands play at Recbar?

CS: We do live music during larger events such as Gaslight Festival or the local pub crawl, the J-Walk. Outside of that, our segmented space doesn’t cater well to live music. We’re already maxing out space on the weekends, so finding room for a band gets tricky.

NN: Is there an arcade that you view as your own personal Holy Grail? Maybe one that you really really want at Recbar, but haven’t been able to find it just yet?

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CS: Good question. We’ve been able to locate a few holy grails in the last year with 4-player TMNT and Simpsons and the freaking amazing 6-player X-Men machine. It’s not a video game, but there is a mechanical game called Ice Cold Beer that I would buy in a heartbeat. It has two knobs attached to steel bar. A steel ball drops in and you must navigate it up the vertical board into the lit hole. As you advance, there are more obstacles in the way. Super hard game but sucks you in once you start playing. A Champion Pub pinball machine also ranks highly on my list.

NN: What arcade would you consider yourself to be the best at? Is there a game that you are really really good at?

CS: I don’t know that there is one game I truly excel at but my latest game crush has been our Metallica pro pinball machine. By no means am I setting records, but I could probably take down some opponents if challenged.

NN: How do you balance your time between businesses? Do you have any kind of personal or family life?

CS: I am beyond thrilled with both of my businesses but if it infringed on my family, I would give them up instantly. My wife and kids mean more anything to me. The balance for me comes with knowing I have a great staff at both places. I can feel comfortable going on vacation for a week because of our teams. Tony, my co-owner, is the same way at Recbar. We know when to buckle down and when to relax.

“I am beyond thrilled with both of my businesses but if it infringed on my family, I would give them up instantly.”

NN: Before you go, what advice would you give to anyone considering opening their own restaurant?

CS: Surround yourself with the right people. You can have the greatest concept in the world but without a friendly staff and competent leadership, it will fail every time. Also, listen to your staff and customer input. Sometimes your ideas are good but a different perspective will make them great.