Not long ago, in a downtown starved for more restaurants of any kind, Matt Pool and his wife Erenia figured out just what the neighborhood needed: a mom-and-pop breakfast joint. So while Pool was working nights managing Bar Bianco (owned by his sister Susan Pool and her partner Chris Bianco, who run world-renowned Pizzeria Bianco, next door), he spent his days transforming a grungy space into a sunny little cafe called Matt's Big Breakfast. Nowadays, to call the restaurant popular is an understatement, judging from all the hungry-but-determined people waiting outside on a typical weekend morning. And now, in a historic building just a couple blocks away, Pool's getting ready to open the Roosevelt Tavern and Wine Bar later this year. Better start lining up for a table.
An Early Start
When I was 14, I worked at the original French Corner, which now is the Eggery, by AJ's. It was the hot spot. And my whole family worked there. My sister Susan worked there after I did, as a hostess, and that's where she met Chris. It was packed every night, and you'd see all the local heavy hitters in there.
Jumping Right In
I always loved this space. I told my wife, if it ever comes open, we should get it. So I wasn't really even ready to open a restaurant yet, and I was driving by one day and it said "For Rent." That same day, we rented it. And you know, downtown, there's a lot of cool places that are occupied there really aren't a lot of unique spaces available for restaurants.
We set it up so that even if we didn't have that many customers, I knew we would be a little bit busier on weekends. And even if it was just my main guy in the kitchen, Abraham, I just thought, well, including me and a dishwasher, and my wife helping out on weekends, I could earn a living that's fine. So my goals were a little more modest. I mean, I never would've dreamed we'd be as consistently busy as we are.
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A Tough Job, but Somebody's Gotta Do It
Breakfast is kind of an unusual meal because, you know, people are so specific about what they like about breakfast, and everyone can make their own breakfast. So to me it's gratifying to have all my regular customers coming here in the morning.