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Matchbox Food Group Prepares for National Expansion

March 10, 2014

By Abha Bhattarai for The Washington Post, Capital Business

The parent company of Matchbox and Ted’s Bulletin has brought on three new advisers to help the restaurants prepare for an eventual expansion beyond the Washington area.

Matchbox Food Group plans to announce Tuesday that its newly created board includes Outback Steakhouse founder Chris Sullivan; Bill Allen, former chief executive of OSI Restaurants, which oversees Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill; and Win Sheridan, co-founder of Richmond-based staffing firm Apex Systems.

All three are now minority investors in the company, although co-owner Ty Neal would not disclose how much money they had contributed.

“These are people who have been to the rodeo before,” Neal said. “As small mom-and-pop restaurateurs, that’s something we can learn from.”

Neal co-founded Matchbox, which specializes in pizza and bistro-style dishes, with Mark Neal and Andrew Kim in 2003. The company has grown steadily since then, with locations in Rockville, Capitol Hill, Logan Circle and Merrifield, as well as Palm Springs, Calif.

Each new restaurant costs about $3 million to open, Neal said. He declined to disclose profit or revenue figures.

“The Matchbox team has done an excellent job in ‘going slow to go fast,’ ” Sullivan, one of the company’s new investors, said in an e-mail. “We can help identify critical steps in the process of growing the brand.”

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