Chef Matt Storch, owner of Match restaurant in SoNo and Westport’s own BurgerLobster was born and raised in Westport. He graduated Staples High School in 1995 and currently lives in Fairfield with his wife and nine-year-old twin boys.
“When I was growing up, Westport was that true small-town community with small businesses that supported everyone–neighborhoods did block parties. My family is still rooted to the area. My parents still live here, and my sisters are in the area. Throughout the years of people leaving and coming and starting my own business and moving out, I observed the town became a little disconnected. It started to have a hoity toity feel and that made me irritated. Now, through this crisis, Westport is displaying those old characteristics which makes me proud and happy and more willing to be part of the community. A lot of people are stepping out to do the right thing being friendly, generous, showing their true colors.
I observed the town became a little disconnected…Now…Westport is displaying those old characteristics which makes me proud
There is a calm that has settled over the area. Not everyone is rushing around, getting to the train and going out. It’s extended family time and I think it’s hitting home with a lot of people, and they are realizing, again, that this is a small community. It’s touching, and I didn’t think Westport had it in it. Even though you can’t see each other, you feel the love.
Business is ok. We’ve had some great weeks and we’ve had some mediocre weeks, but our staff is employed and we’re keeping them busy. Staying relevant is important and keeping your name in every body’s ears is important. We are doing curbside at both restaurants and have just started Match Provisions where we sell groceries for pick up. We just started and on that first week we immediately got 75 orders. We open orders on Mondays at matchsono.com and close the store on Thursday, pick up is the following Tuesday at the train station parking lot. We’re selling milk, eggs, butter, gloves, toilet paper, a mixed produce box (CSA style), frozen pasta, shrimp, meat, fresh and shucked clams and oysters from Copps Island Oysters (Norm Bloom & Son) and a new product we’ve created called Copps Casino, which are shucked oysters with a topping that are baked and frozen to reheat. We also sell beer, wine and liquors.
It’s truly going to be that the strong survive. It’s going to be survival of fittest and whoever is the smartest marketer is going to be lucky here–and I do think it’s luck. I truly do. I think unfortunately some of my fellow restaurateurs made the mistake of not staying open and not trying. I get it—they didn’t feel safe. I think we figured out the safety part—we don’t let anyone in restaurants except staff.
I strongly believe that I think the restaurant industry is the best industry this could happen to because we are already sanitary. It is what we were trained to do. So, we add a mask—ok, big deal. It’s an inconvenience but it’s not that side of it that is the issue, it’s the hospitality side. That’s what I love about this business– it’s about making people happy. My fear is that the restaurant industry is not going to look anywhere like it did prior to this. I think it’s going to take a long time to get to full dining back with that fun, safe, entertaining, wholesome feeling. It’s sad. I don’t know what’s going to happen. If I can’t walk around my dining room and make people happy it will suck.”