Capital Buzz: Matchbox lights up with expansion plans


Matchbox pizza bistro has three new locations in the works. Above, the D.C. chain’s location in Capitol Hill. (Dominic Bracco II/The Washington Post)
November 27, 2011

Ty Neal, co-founder of the Matchbox chainlet of D.C. area restaurants, reports that he and his three partners just completed raising $3 million from around 65 “friends and family” investors for expansion.

“We have a very willing investor group that has gone with us before on some of these other raises,” said Neal, who has had several fundraisers for other restaurants, all of which pay handsome dividends. “We got a lot of yeses pretty easily.”

The fundraising round, which required a $30,000 minimum, funds three new restaurants. The first up is a Matchbox at 14th and T streets N.W. , due to open late summer or early fall of 2012. The second will be another Matchbox in the Mosaic District in Falls Church, a mixed-use project under development by Edens & Avant.

The third restaurant will be a Ted’s Bulletin — namd for Neal’s late father — at 14th and S streets N.W. The first Ted’s is on Barracks Row on Capitol Hill. (They also have a new on-the-go concept called DC-3 nearby.)

Matchbox, which started on H Street in Chinatown in 2003, now has four locations, including one each in Rockville, Barracks Row on Capitol Hill and one in Palm Springs, Calif. The four co-founders are brothers Ty and Mark Neal, Drew Kim and Perry Smith.

Pride and turkeys

Sandy Lerner, the Cisco Systems co-founder who runs Ayrshire Farms in Upperville, Va., said sales were brisk this year for her 1,300 rafter of heritage breed, organic/humane raised turkeys.

“The kids are driving it,” she said. “They educate their parents and it’s kind of a snowball effect.”

Lerner also has a self-published book out Dec. 1 called “Second Impressions,” which is a sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

“I am a Jane junkie of the first order,” said Lerner, who said she has read P&P, as the Austenites call it, at least 70 times. Other fans apparently include British prime ministers Winston Churchill, who read it on the eve of D-Day, and Benjamin Disraeli (who reportedly read it 17 times).

“Second Impressions” (Austen’s first title for P&P was First Impressions), clocks in at 500 pages and was 26 years in the making. Lerner will be signing books at the Jane Austen Society Meeting Dec. 3 in Los Angeles.

Holiday sweets

Judging from sales at Chocolate Chocolate, the high-end confectionaire on Connecticut Avenue, the economy is back.

What’s In: Maker’s Mark bonbons, dark chocolate, salted caramels, corporate chocolate doodads, ultra-high end hot chocolate and drinking chocolate, ’Twas Night Before Christmas Book Boxes for $14.95 — complete with six chocolate mice for all you Nutcrackers out there.

What’s Out: old standbys such as chocolate-covered cherries, nut clusters and raisin clusters.

Co-owner Frances Park said there was a run on the life-size, three-pound chocolate turkeys at $55 a pop.

“So many disappointed customers who had their hearts set on using the giant turkey as their Thanksgiving centerpiece,” said Frances. “But like I said, they flew the coup early.”

Frances’s and sister Ginger Park’s memoir, “Chocolate Chocolate: The True Story of Two Sisters, Tons of Treats and the Little Shop That Could,” has been translated and was released in Italy this month with the title “I piaceri intimi del cioccolato”.

The Buzz hears:

Hilton McLean Tysons Corner is finishing up a $40 million makeover by Falls Church-based interior specialist Hitt Contracting.

The new lobby is all-things-digital, with a tech lounge for workaholics, complimentary Wi-Fi, conversation nooks with individual TVs — and an 18-hour-day bar with handcrafted cocktails.

The makeover includes 458 guestrooms, each with a 37-inch flat-panel HDTV, motion-detector lighting and eucalyptus-fiber sheets and towels for all you koala bears out there.

Meeting spaces include a 3,000-square-foot junior ballroom for 260 and a 10,000-square-foot grand ballroom that will fit 1,300.

Chevy Chase-based D.C. Girls in the Know, the online daily deal site geared toward women and founded by locals Julie O’Brien and Chris Jacobs, partners with kgbdeals, the global daily deals trying to catch up to Groupon and District-based LivingSocial. Kgbdeals has gotten around to integrating another D.C. deal site, WTD, which was founded by former Adams Morgan resident Rob Schutz.

LivingSocial is led by Tim O’Shaughnessy, son-in-law of The Washington Post Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Donald E. Graham.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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