Little did a set of preschool classmates know that they would eventually date, get married, and now, for the past 20 years, own the restaurant where they both worked during high school.
Having both grown up in Litchfield County, Rene and Jason MacKenzie’s worlds collided at a very young age. After meeting in preschool, the love bug hit and they were dating by junior high. While attending Litchfield High School, they both fortuitously got jobs at Bohemian Pizza. With great encouragement from his instructors, Jason excelled in his culinary arts class at Litchfield High and decided to attend culinary school. Once he graduated, he spent some time working in fine dining before partnering with one of the original owners of Boho, Gary Copeland.
Living in Litchfield their entire lives, the couple is well connected within the area. “One of the greatest joys of owning the restaurant is the impact we can make in the community,” shares Rene MacKenzie. Bohemian regularly supports local non-profits through various fundraising efforts.
The restaurant business has always suited the couple. Jason is the executive chef, so to speak, who cooks on the line almost every single night. He develops and writes all of the menus and spends countless hours stretching dough, food prepping, meeting with various food purveyors, and even taking out the trash.
Besides being the mother of their two children and a full-time teacher, Rene is also Bohemian’s social media manager and fills in wherever she is needed – from staffing, scheduling, motivation, community work, charity work, party bookings, and menu development, she is quite busy! Luckily, they have an amazing staff that supports the day-to-day business.
Bohemian’s building was built in the 1930s as a house and then became a variety of small businesses over the years including a coffee shop, steak house, and pool house. It wasn’t constructed to withstand the commercial volume they were doing so the MacKenzies embarked on a major renovation a few years ago. Most of the building was torn down; saving the original double-sided fireplace and one wall. Although the kitchen, bar, and seating area are new, it was important for them to keep the décor and basic footprint the same. Besides the food, Bohemian is loved by the locals for its eclectic and funky atmosphere. The walls and ceiling are covered in album covers and the bar is usually packed.
As they celebrate their 20th year in business, Rene and Jason love to hear stories from their loyal customers about first dates at the restaurant, gratitude for the charity fundraisers they’ve done, as well as providing a venue for live music, “it’s all very humbling to know we can give our little hometown a place where people want to be,” shares Rene.