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Minutes of Y's Men Meeting of November 10, 2016

Matt Storch interviewed by Stephanie Webster

Matt Storch is the owner of Match as well as two other restaurants in Fairfield County. He is a graduate of CIA and attended Staples.  He is the recipient of the James Beard award.

Stephanie Webster operates a web site “CT Bites” that focuses on the food scene in Fairfield County.

The presentation was in the form of an interview of Matt by Stephanie.

Storch traveled a great deal as a child and developed an interest in the hospitality field.  He decided to be a chef and wanted to be in control, a leader, a creative force. He traveled and cooked in Italy, especially liking Venice, and has broad experience working for a number of famous chefs. He opened Match seventeen years ago in South Norwalk. From a modest beginning of making pizzas and simple Italian food, Matt developed Match into a first class, highly regarded restaurant.  He chose South Norwalk as it is centrally located and was becoming known as a restaurant center.

He discussed a “day in the life of a chef” which entails an early start, purchasing food and supplies, keeping his 65 employees happy and going from location to location putting out fires. He said it was good exercise. He felt that the responsibility for the employees is a major driver that is taken very seriously.

Stephanie started out in NYC, moved to Seattle and returned to Fairfield County.  She developed a web site - CT Bites - as she recognized there was very little coverage of the explosive food scene in the area.

Noted below are comments made during the interview:

Consumers are becoming more demanding.  They want quality and an overall positive experience with an initial greeting and ambiance to set a mood.  Food is four or five on the list. They should leave satisfied and happy.

Social media has a high impact on the success of a restaurant with positive reviews the easiest way to market and maintain brand. Reviews are taken very seriously. Matt noted that he will contact the writer of a bad review and encourage a revisit. Internet can easily damage a reputation.

Chefs are moving to the suburbs to get out of the city to raise their families. This makes a significant improvement in the quality and number of restaurants.

Consumers have no idea what goes on in a restaurant, especially on busy nights. The pace of work and coordination required is significant. 

Storch started Community Plates -- an effort to drive leftover food, about 40%, to shelters and people in need.

Issues raised by the audience:

Noise levels: Quiet dining is a thing of the past.  Having a meal over an extended time is not going to happen.  Buzz is in. Restaurants are designed for that purpose.  The industry has changed to a hip and loud trend.  Focus is on table turns; lingering over a cup of coffee is less profitable then getting the customer out and seating the replacement who orders a drink. Matt noted that a times he will move a dinner party to the bar and buy the drinks to turn the table. During the week and other slow times is the time to have a quiet and extended dining experience, not Saturday night.

Restaurant economics: All costs are going up and are reflected in menu prices. Tipping is moving to the European method with the service charge incorporated in the menu price.

Match is opening up a satellite operation in the Westport RR station on the northbound side. It will be a grab and go set up.  The menu and payment can be accessed via cell phone on the train.

CT Bites is refreshing its web site.  Take a look.