By Kathy Brown.
Merle McKenzie doesn’t seem to sit still. He opened CrossFit Ironworks in Higganum in 2012, started Relentless Jeans in 2014, then rebranded it to Edison Atlas Apparel in 2016, then opened HK Fitness in Higganum in 2017, then sold CrossFit Ironworks and opened Montana Nights axe throwing in Newington in 2018, then opened Odin’s Keep axehouse in Enfield in 2019, then HK Fitness moved and expanded this spring while everything was shut down due to COVID-19.
Now, he’s busy creating The Truck Bar Family Entertainment Center at 66 Killingworth Road, right in Higganum’s center. The projected opening will be in September. “I love dreaming of fun things to do for business and then the process of bringing them to life,” said Merle. “It’s a creative thing.”
Merle and his wife Diana purchased the building at 66 Killingworth Road in March, which is where the newly expanded HK Fitness is located as well. “It’s been something I’ve dreamed of creating for over two years, though originally it was meant to be strictly a live music venue/bar,” said Merle. “It has now morphed into a family entertainment center/bar. The Truck Bar will serve all ages from kids to grandparents. It will be a great community resource that will allow all ages to partake without having to drive 30 miles.”
“[Merle] is very creative and has the ability to look at something average and see great potential,” said Diana. “That combined with his willingness to take risks and his business sense make him successful in his endeavors.”
Diana will handle the bookings and customer service.
Merle has been busy setting up the venue with an Americana theme, helped by the Todzia Brothers, Sam and John. There is an old red truck, which is a bar, as well as truck-themed benches, funky tables, an old gas pump, what looks like the end of a barn projecting out of a wall. For fun, there will be cornhole, an arcade, a golf simulator, a party bike. There will be a bar with “a ton of local craft beer” as well as soft drinks, and snacks. There may be some occasional acoustic music.
“Families can come out and play cornhole/arcade games, Mom and Dad can have an adult beverage and kids can have root beer,” explained Merle. ” It will be great for a family night out, date night, corporate gatherings, bachelor parties, weddings. There simply isn’t anything like it that I can find on the net and I think people will instantly vibe with it.”
Photos provided by Merle McKenzie.