– follow Matt –
WHAT DO YOU DO AND HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I own and/or operate a number of hospitality businesses including The Smile (Smile To Go, The Smile at Milk Studios, The Smile Newsstand), Black Seed, The Westway, The Ballroom at The Jane Hotel, and the food and beverage operations at Ruschmeyer's. Lots of hard work and having lots of amazing friends.
WAS HOSPITALITY SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO DO? WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
Growing up I honestly wanted to be a doctor, but I suppose there isn't a whole lot different between stitching people up, curing their ailments, and providing them wonderful, hospitality experiences to make them feel better.
WHATS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU'VE SEEN IN THE INDUSTRY OVER THE PAST 5 TO 10 YEARS?
There are a lot more outlets for sure. When we opened The Smile on Bond Street in 2009, there was il Buco and Five Points, and Think Coffee and Cafe Angelique. Now there are a number of terrific restaurants with well known operators and chefs, and something like eight serious coffee shops within a two block radius. It is has also gotten a lot more expensive to operate, and harder to find the real estate that permits real experimentation and innovation. My next full-service restaurant that will open this summer (in partnership with Missy Robbins) is in North Williamsburg.
WHO OR WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATION IN THE INDUSTRY TODAY?
The people who work for me. I continue to think of progressive ways of keeping them happy and challenged.
IF YOU HAD THE DAY OFF TODAY WHERE WOULD YOU BE?
Well I just had a few days off and was in Paris, Bordeaux, and San Sebastian. I might move to San Sebastian someday. It is incredible.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE HOTEL IN THE WORLD?
My fiance and I stay at Goldeneye in Jamaica every year (she has actually been going for decades). The sunset at Hotel Roche Rouge on the west coast of Corsica is magical.
DO YOU HAVE A CAREER ANECDOTE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?
I used to work in finance. It's important that young people understand that careers don't have to be linear, and that sometimes a wrong turn can end up being the right turn.
WHAT'S THE MOST OUTLANDISH OR MEMORABLE THING YOU’VE EXPERIENCED WHILE TRAVELING?
My friend's wedding ring fell off while swimming in Santorini. After looking for it for 30 minutes, we found it stuck on a sea urchin's quill. True story.
IF YOU COULD HOST A PARTY FOR ANYONE DEAD OR ALIVE WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Bob Marley. I'm certain we would have a good time hanging.
WHAT'S THE NEXT BIG IDEA IN HOSPITALITY, WHAT ARE WE MISSING?
I have no idea, but what I do know is that there are more choices now than ever - hotels, restaurants, etc - and as operators we can't lose sight of how important it is to focus on providing great hospitality experiences for our customers.
WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING IN 10 YEARS FROM NOW?
Hopefully working with the same group of wonderful people doing more fun stuff together. Might also be nice to spend part of the year in Europe :)