Life is a Revolution: A Salute to Steel, Risks, and American Industry

By: Chris Mahlmann Last Updated: June 5, 2015

Steel is the skeletal structure of many buildings. It is necessary for the building to stay upright and stable, but it isn’t often seen as it’s covered by drywall. Much like American industry, steel is tough, and it gets stronger when the heat is turned up.

The restaurant Industrial Revolution Eatery and Grille, a Valparaiso staple for the last five years, is a celebration of steel, a monument meant to “Salute America’s Greatness” as it boldly states on the signage above the eatery’s entrance.

“If you’re going to put out a slogan ‘Saluting America’s Greatness’, you have to have something to back it up. It has to be great,” Leeson said.

As a business owner, I can attest to the hard work and time it takes to get a business going. We have gone through a lot to get to where we are today and I love to watch businesses grow and develop. We’ve watched Mike and Jennifer make his idea into a reality and there is nothing more satisfying and affirming than knowing that Industrial Revolution is founded on steel, and five years in they are still as tough and durable as their muse.

It began five years ago when Mike took a chance. He created an American fare restaurant that paid homage to the steel industry and American creators and innovators, literally, from the inside out. It’s more than just burgers, fries and a few pictures of famous Americans on the walls. Brick and steel beams, the building blocks of our country, make up the establishment. Mike made it a point not to use drywall when he built the place.

“When I see steel, I see beauty,” Mike said. “Steel is often hidden within structures, but I say reverse that and show it versus hiding it.”

Even though steel is the main building component in the restaurant, there is no cold chill that is often associated with the metal. Industrial Revolution is a warm and welcoming place where guests come and enjoy great food with family and friends, and also become aware of the greatness that has come from within our country.

“We took a risk,” Jennifer Leeson said. “We started out and learned so much along the way… Now we are ranked number two on TripAdvisor and we have won multiple ROSE Awards as a restaurant and for individual employees.”

Mike traveled the country and realized that no one had built a restaurant based on the steel industry so he did what any risk taker would do: he built one. And he uses the same concepts in Industrial Revolution as he does in Synergy Steel.

“Our principles are the same: take care of your customers, hire the best employees, and make sure that your bills are not more than your income which comes back to taking care of your customers,” Mike said simply.

Stewart McMillan of Task Force Tips is a frequent customer at Industrial Revolution. He brings in clients, family, and friends. He’s a guy that gets it and there is a satisfaction that only comes from working with, or serving in this case, someone who understands what quality is all about.

“I’ve been coming to this place before it even opened. I’m a manufacturer at heart, and I truly love the way this place honors manufacturing. Every opportunity I get I bring family and friends here because this place is very special to me,” McMillan said.

With quotes on the walls from famous American’s, history on famous innovators, and architecture that is meant to inspire people who come through its doors, Industrial Revolution is a great and unique place that keeps the rich legacies and important stories alive, those that shaped America into what it is now. This is a place that my team and I like to be in whether it’s for lunch, a Tweetup, or our Good Life Awards. Mike personally designed the awards that are given out each year of the awards.

Three years ago we hosted our first Good Life Awards at Industrial Revolution, and Mike made the awesome effort to create the coolest awards from concept to completion using the talents of his company Synergy Steel Structures.

Being a witness to such a success is a privilege and I consider it an honor to be able to write this story. The story of steel being seen for the beautiful symbolism that it holds in this region and beyond is the spark that can ignite the passions of others and inspire them to take risks and try that one thing that they have been thinking about but too afraid to take the risk.

Happy anniversary to a one-of-a-kind restaurant run by people who are one-of-a-kind. Don’t ever stop Saluting America’s Greatness.