Longtime employees to run Mackenzies Vicksburg


Five months after Vicksburg native Chris Moore acquired the assets of Kalamazoo’s MacKenzie’s Bakery, the bakery, now called Mackenzies Vicksburg, has announced that two longtime Kalamazoo staffers, Jill Younger and Cris Najar, will run the new bakery.

Younger, the new production manager and a Portage resident, began her career at the bakery’s retail counter in 2000, learning the importance of taking care of customers. Jill progressed to her current role as production manager, where she leads a team of bakers. In her two decades helping to grow the company, Jill has welcomed a community of regulars and new customers through the doors.

Najar, the head baker, and a resident of Kalamazoo, is a skilled baker with a passion for incorporating art into pastry-making. He began his career in the culinary industry at a variety of restaurants in his hometown of Chicago before making the switch to baking. Cris began his career at Mackenzies Bakery in 2009 as a bench worker and expanded his skill set to become head baker. Cris is thrilled to return to the kitchen and continue serving specialty breads, where he puts his artistry into practice with intricate designs and flavors.

Mackenzies Vicksburg intends to open in early 2022 at 103 E. Prairie Street, in downtown Vicksburg.  The 1,700-square-foot location will serve as a kitchen and distribution facility, but the bakery may eventually offer retail products from a small storefront space.

Moore, rehabilitating the mill in a mixed-use development at the southwest side of the village, grew up enjoying Mackenzies baked goods and jumped at the chance to revitalize the brand and help bring more business into the area. Moore has said his vision is to create a “thriving Vicksburg;” placing the bakery outside of the Mill property was intentional.

“There is a lot to be determined regarding this transaction, but one thing is for sure, downtown Vicksburg is going to smell great with the aroma of Mackenzies bread,” Moore said. He resides in Seattle where he operates Concord Technologies and Old Stove Brewing but frequently visits Vicksburg.

MacKenzie’s Bakery ended operations at the end of 2020. The brand, web domain name and equipment were purchased soon after by Smutek. Moore’s Vicksburg leadership team, led by chief operating officer Jackie Koney, was approached by a mutual acquaintance who connected them to Smutek. An ongoing dialogue led to a deal to transfer ownership to Moore.

All equipment from the closed bakery was transferred to Vicksburg, where Koney’s team will work to complete renovation plans.

“We are looking to bring Mackenzies bread into stores and dining establishments across Southwest Michigan, so our immediate focus is to gear up for large-scale bread production,” said Koney. “Once we get settled, we’ll evaluate expanding product offerings and delivery channels.”

Mackenzies Vicksburg expects to share more information soon on its website, www.mackenziesbakery.com, about opening dates and product offerings.

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