Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Matt's big hassle

[Source: Michele Laudig, Phoenix New Times] -- If anyone should have an easy time opening a business in a cool old building downtown, it's Matt Pool. After all, Pool got his start managing Bar Bianco for his sister, Susan, and her partner, Chris Bianco, in an old house (the neoclassical Thomas House, built in 1909, to be exact) in Heritage Square. It's one of the hippest spots in Phoenix, where guests kick back on the front porch with a bottle of Sangiovese while waiting for a table at the insanely popular Pizzeria Bianco next door. Then Pool started his own business, Matt's Big Breakfast, in a funky, compact red brick building next to a small downtown motel. Word got out quickly when the place opened, and in just a couple of years, it's become such a familiar part of the urban fabric — with its retro orange counter and made-from-scratch pancakes — that it feels like Matt's has been there for decades.

Mayor Phil Gordon knows all about Matt's. He's a regular (usually comes in on Saturday morning with his son, Pool notes), and has even mentioned the place in not one, but two official speeches. A guy with his own history of redeveloping old buildings, Gordon knows the value of a place like Matt's Big Breakfast, and in a city with just a handful of creative, young entrepreneurs who're multitasking like crazy to make Phoenix vibrant (think of Greg Esser and Cindy Dach with their boutique and gallery spaces, or Kimber Lanning, with her record store and art/music venue, or artist Sloane McFarland, landlord to several biz hipsters, including Chris Bianco), Gordon's got to know the value of Matt Pool. Is it any surprise that Pool wants to start another business? The city staff should have been jumping up and down — and through hoops — at the news that Pool's restoring a 106-year-old historic building as a tavern, exactly the kind of business downtown Phoenix needs. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]