This story was corrected on March 28, 2013. An explanation follows the story.
Flames will rise, and wine will flow in Merrifield this spring when the first Matchbox restaurant in Virginia opens April 12.
What began as a concept among longtime friends Ty Neal, Mark Neal and Andrew Kim exactly 10 years ago this April, soon will culminate with Matchbox’s sixth D.C. area location at 2911 District Ave. in Merrifield’s Mosaic district, adjacent to the Angelika movie theater.
The “upscale casual comfort” restaurant and bar will feature brick oven pizzas baked at 800 degrees that cook in about 5 minutes, and something unique to Northern Virginia: draft wine on tap.
“We will have eight wines: four reds and four whites,” co-owner Andrew Kim said. “The wines will be pressurized with CO₂ just like beer to keep them fresh, and they will be served from taps at the bar.”
Kim said the “draft wine” concept was initiated at Matchbox’s 14th Street location in Washington, D.C. last year, and it has really taken off. “At Merrifield, we will also have 12 beers on tap and our signature Bloody Mary made with beer, which is a Pabst Blue Ribbon pounder with our Bloody Mary mix,” Kim said.
The three friends began their journey in 2003, opening the first Matchbox restaurant in D.C.’s Chinatown. The restaurant quickly became a success, and expansion then headed west with another location in Palm Springs, Calif., then back to D.C. for a third location in Capitol Hill, Kim said.
In 2010, the trio opened two new concepts, Ted’s Bulletin, a family restaurant named after Ty and Mark Neal’s father, and DC-3, which specializes in regional hot dogs, as well as their largest and perhaps best-known Matchbox restaurant in Rockville, Md. Matchbox opened on 14th Street in D.C. in November 2012. A Ted’s Bulletin is slated to open in Reston Town Center sometime in the near future.
The trio’s efforts have earned them a nod from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, which has nominated them for a 2013 RAMMY in the Best Restaurateur Category. The award winners will be announced June 23.
“That is a great honor,” said Kim, who added that coming to Northern Virginia also is something Matchbox is excited about.
“Our basic motto is ‘find it; build it, and run it.’ That is also how we divide up our responsibilities,” he said. “I am the operations manager, so I am the ‘run it’ part of that equation. We have always wanted to come into Northern Virginia, so when my partners discovered this opportunity, we took it. Now it’s up to me to make it work.”
To aid in that endeavor, Kim has enlisted Executive Chef Jacob Hunter, who has been an integral part of Matchbox since 2008.
“I am excited to see what Virginians are hungry for,” Hunter said. “I am going to guess that a few of our popular items like our Cornbread Panzanella Salad, made with arugula, house-made cornbread croutons, red onions and seasonal tomatoes will go over well. I also see our Fire & Smoke pizza, with chipotle peppers, garlic puree and smoked Gouda cheese doing well here.”
EDENS, the owners of the Mosaic center, say they are excited to have Matchbox join them.
“We’re thrilled to have Matchbox join the restaurants at Mosaic,” EDENS spokesman Tom Kiler said. “We are confident that the opening of Matchbox will bring the community together, allowing them to have a unique experience at Mosaic.”
Correction: In the photo cutline, Fred Herrmann was incorrectly identified and John Donelly’s name was misspelled.