Editor’s Note: Female-friendly? Really? – Stefanie Gans
The Nov. 16 opening of matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit in the One Loudoun development doubles as a debut of what matchboxfoodgroup CEO Ty Neal calls matchbox 2.0 because it’s a refresh of the home-grown concept about to become a sizable national chain. “It’s next generation in design, menu and uniforms, and it’s all coming together at One Loudoun,” Neal says. He has been a Loudoun County resident for eight years.
One of the biggest transformations is happening in the kitchen, where Stephen Lyons, vice president of culinary operations, is the leader. He’s fresh from career stops at The Inn at Little Washington and restaurants attached to luxury hotels. “Stephen’s been in our test kitchen under the hood for almost a year, bringing new techniques and just a little refinement to our upscale casual, bistro cuisine,” Neal says. “It’s a really fun time to kick things up a notch.” One of Lyons’ biggest impacts so far has been a slightly more health-conscious approach including specialty salads—something Neal is calling “female-friendly.” “Lighter options is where the world is going, but don’t worry. We still have Angus beef mini-burgers, pizza and the ginormous meatball.”
Neal also says the One Loudoun location will have the best bar matchboxfoodgroup has ever built and expects a big bar scene to follow. It looks into the open kitchen, while also benefiting from an indoor/outdoor set up. Additional outdoor seating is available on two second-floor patios—making for a total of three al fresco dining spaces. Inside, the design is modern and industrial, much like the trendy lofts millennials crave with exposed ductwork.
When it opens Monday at 20626 East Hampton Plaza, matchbox One Loudoun will join a community of fresh restaurants and retail including Family Meal, Elevation Burger, Uncle Julio’s, Plan B Burger Bar and more. Neal feels his restaurant will stand out. “There’s a focus on the food that you definitely won’t see with some of the other chains that tend to locate in the suburbs. Even though we’re opening more and more of these things, we’re still fiercely independent,” he says.
Beginning Nov. 16, matchbox One Loudoun will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch with a weekday happy hour from 3-6 p.m.
Laura Hayes hails from Philly (but don’t hold it against her). She’s been covering the local dining scene for three years, and her work has been published in the Washington Post, Food Network, Washington City Paper, Arlington Magazine and more. Having lived in Japan for two years, she finds herself in a constant state of craving sushi. Laura always orders her favorite savory dish again for dessert and keeps her gut in check through lots of CrossFit classes.