Salem restaurateur Bob Rotanz receives Charles Brown Award

Bob Rotanz speaks during the Charles Brown Award ceremony on Thursday.

Bob Rotanz speaks during the Charles Brown Award ceremony on Thursday.

This article was featured in the Roanoke Magazine, Issue 2, 2013. The full issue can be seen here.

Salem, Va. - The heartbeat of Salem may be found at a landmark restaurant on the city's Main Street. 

Bob Rotanz and Jim McEnerney opened Mac and Bob's restaurant in 1980 across the street from Roanoke College. That was two years after both of them graduated from Roanoke.

Rotanz never dreamed he'd settle in Salem.

Now, 33 years later, Rotanz is well-known throughout the city and region for donating food, organizing a successful golf tournament that benefits children with Down syndrome, supporting his alma mater and much more.

Today, Rotanz became the 17th recipient of the Charles Brown Award. The award, presented by Roanoke College, is given each year to a Salem resident who has contributed significantly, both professionally and civically, to the city's quality of life. It is named for Dr. Charles Brown, the College's first dean and a former mayor of Salem.

During an awards ceremony in Roanoke College's Wortmann Ballroom, Rotanz described Salem as "a perfect fit" for his family, which includes his wife, Wendy, also a Roanoke graduate, and their three daughters.

Rotanz, a native of Long Island, N.Y., came to Salem by way of Roanoke College, where he excelled on the lacrosse field. Rotanz scored the winning goal to help the Men's Lacrosse team win the 1978 national championship. He was named the national lacrosse player of the year that year. He's now a member of the College's Hall of Fame, and his jersey number is retired.

After graduation, Rotanz set his sights on the restaurant business.

Now, Mac and Bob's is one of Salem's most popular downtown restaurants. Each year, some of the same out-of-town sports teams that visit Salem to play in tournaments make Mac and Bob's a regular meal stop.

Rotanz is known for his generosity. He supplies food for scores of local events, schools and causes and for 21 years, has organized a golf tournament to support families with children who have Down syndrome.

He also helped to bring the game of lacrosse to public schools in Southwest Virginia by coaching the first teams at Patrick Henry and Salem high schools and founding the Southwest Virginia Lacrosse Association.

Rotanz has served on numerous community boards, and he and his wife are regional co-chairs for Roanoke Rising, the College's $200 million fundraising campaign.

"This whole family has been a great asset to this community," said Roanoke College President Michael Maxey during the awards ceremony.
Roanoke College, a classic liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a beautiful, undergraduate setting. Roanoke is one of just seven percent of colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review lists Roanoke as the 18th most beautiful campus in its "Best 376 Colleges" 2012 guidebook.

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Released: October 3, 2013
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