After spending the majority of the past 23 years traveling internationally as a marketing executive, Michael Lanz says it was time to do something different with his life.
"I don't think that there are any more places in the world that I need to see right now," the 47-year-old Lanz said. "It got pretty old living out of a suitcase and I just didn't see an end in sight, so it was time for a change."
He and his wife, Sandy Lanz, 48, decided that they wanted to go into business together. After looking at a few places, they became interested in The Fix, Arizona's Mac n Chz Headquarters, at 943 E. University Blvd., Suite 115.
They purchased the restaurant in February, finding appeal in its menu, fast service and proximity to the University of Arizona campus. "You get such an eclectic mix between the students, the faculty and the business owners," Michael Lanz said. "It's just a neat vibe down here."
As first-time business owners, they also were pleased that there was a foundation already in place.
Previous owner Amanda Rickel Nelson, who opened the restaurant in August, recently married and was looking to sell the business so she could start a family.
The Fix specializes in comfort-style food, serving more than 10 types of macaroni and cheese. In addition to traditional recipes, like the All American and Alfredo, it has a "Mac of the Moment" weekly special, which includes favorites like the Open Yo Mouth, made with bacon, avocado and Alfredo sauce, and the Cattleman, made with steak, onions and hash browns.
"Half the fun has been bringing in some of these new ingredients and trying them out to see what reaction they get," Michael Lanz said.
The Fix also serves sandwiches, salads, desserts, and beer and wine.
While the couple intends to keep Nelson's original menu intact, they plan to add many items soon, including deep-fried mac-and-cheese balls, gourmet popcorn and an expanded dessert menu. They also will be adding mac-and-cheese wraps in an effort to make their main staple portable.
"You don't want to do anything that is already being done on the boulevard," Sandy Lanz said. "It's not good for us to replicate anything."
Other plans include adding an exterior deck so they can serve cocktails, and redoing the kitchen so it can support the new menu items. Both modifications should be completed by summer's end.
To promote community involvement, they plan to continue hosting percentage nights for on-campus clubs and Greek life, participating in Bear Down Fridays and offering live music for customers. They also recently bought a new catering truck and will be taking part in this weekend's Iron Chef Tucson and Culinary Weekend at Loews Ventana Canyon resort.
"The most rewarding part of the business would be our customers," Sandy Lanz said. "We definitely love having conversations around the food and hearing suggestions."
Eventually, the couple might get a food truck and franchise or license their business. "A lot of people come in from out of town and they'll come in and say they wish they had a place like this by them," Michael Lanz said, adding, "We know the concept works."
If you go
What: The Fix, Arizona's Mac n Chz Headquarters
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday
Where: 943 E. University Blvd., Suite 115 (Main Gate Square)
Info: Call 305-4493 or see fixmeaz.com online.
Justin Sayers is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact him at 573-4117 or firstname.lastname@example.org