Thursday, December 1, 2022

Despite setbacks, Matchsticks plans summer opening of new restaurant

Matchsticks BBQ's plans to open a restaurant in April were delayed due to the pandemic, but co-owner Nicole Sileno said the business is hoping to open by the end of August. (WYDaily/Courtesy Nicole Sileno)
Matchsticks BBQ’s plans to open a restaurant in April were delayed due to the pandemic. (WYDaily/Courtesy Nicole Sileno)

The opening of Matchsticks BBQ’s new restaurant location has been postponed due to the pandemic, but fans of the popular food truck won’t have to wait too long.

Matchsticks BBQ food truck owners, Matt and Nicole Sileno, in the winter announced they would be opening a new Midtown Row restaurant location where guests could get their favorite menu items anytime they wanted. The new restaurant was originally planned to open in April, but the pandemic has pushed the timeline back by about four months, Nicole Sileno said. 

Sileno said they are hoping for the construction to be completed by the end of August to pave the way for an opening sometime in September.

“We’ve been full of emotion,” she said. “This was our end goal, to have a restaurant, and it’s been delayed.”

Sileno said the pandemic pushed back permit approvals, building construction and general work on the location. Another important aspect was the delay in creating the large smoker cooker, fondly nicknamed “Large Marge,” which will be important in preparing the restaurant’s meals.

She said having the food truck still available for customers has been a blessing over the past few months because even though the restaurant isn’t open, the couple has still been able to serve people regularly.

The couple has also taken this time to help the community through its lunchbox program. The business typically raises funds to pay off school lunch debt in Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools but with schools having been closed since March, the program has switched to a weekly grab-and-go meal program for school-aged children. 

The restaurant is currently installing plumbing, concrete and a new HVAC system. (WYDaily/Courtesy Nicole Sileno)
The restaurant is currently installing plumbing, concrete and a new HVAC system. (WYDaily/Courtesy Nicole Sileno)

The couple gives out free lunches each Thursday to children and plans to continue doing so unless schools reopen in the fall. The program will revert back to raising funds for school lunch debt instead when schools reopen.

“One thing we wanted when we went into business was to give back to the community,” Sileno said. “So the program is something behind our work other than having a restaurant.”

The delay in opening has also provided the couple with more time to research design and decor, as well as create labels for their barbecue sauces and rubs that will be sold in the future.

Sileno said the restaurant will be styled to feel like a hole-in-the wall barbecue place with a rustic feel created by concrete brick slabs, a wood pallet wall and various iron and metal decorations.

“The idea was to create the feeling of an old-school barbecue joint,” she said. “Even though we’re in the middle of a shopping center, we want people to feel like they’re in a throwback to a hole-in-the-wall barbecue place.”

While work on the restaurant had been paused, recent months have allowed the business to move at a quick pace to open in the summer. The restaurant is currently in the phase of updating the plumbing, laying down concrete and installing the HVAC system. 

Sileno said opening a business in the midst of a pandemic means being prepared for setbacks, which is why continuing to have the food truck available is helpful. 

The Silenos are looking forward to finally opening their restaurant location and are excited to share their business with their customers.

“Our community has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “A lot of customers have turned into regulars who have turned into family. People are waiting for the restaurant space so they can get [the food] whenever they want.”

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Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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