July 19, 2009

MATCHBOX Pizza Review - Bad Judgement

I recently went to Matchbox in Washington, DC to celebrate a successful theatre performance by my daughter. The experience was less then pleasant.

The story is almost incredulous. This is a tale of a waitress using very poor judgement to damage a long term relationship.

I have been transformed from a FAN of MATCHBOX to a unhappy customer.

713 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

July 19, 2009

To: Ty Neal, Perry Smith
Andrew Kim, Chris Schaller
Fred Herrmann

Dear Sirs;

I have been a fan of Matchbox since you opened your DC location in 2002. I dine at your Chinatown location frequently and recently have added the new Capitol Hill site to my dining list.

My daughter was participating in the DC Fringe festival this past Saturday. After the play, we walked from the theatre to your Chinatown Location to celebrate a successful show. I brought seven people with me and planned on enjoying an early dinner in your upstairs dining room.

We were seated promptly and greeted by our waitress without delay. We were all in good spirits – hungry and looking forward to sharing a meal and celebrating a fabulous afternoon.

When I ordered a draft beer, our waitress requested my ID. How sweet I thought. I am rarely carded (I am 49), and was happy to pass my license over for review. After perusing my Maryland license, the waitress asked if there is anything other then beer I would like, as my license was expired and thereby invalid as identification.

I looked at my license, and she was correct – my license had expired in May. I was unaware and quite surprised it had expired. As a reasonably responsible, middle age man with kids, I am not one to push the limits of the law.

What DID surprise me was her refusal to serve me a beer. She went to great lengths to explain that she could be arrested for serving someone without proper ID. She went on to explain in a condescending manner why she was right to take this position. I was stunned.

What my entire group first thought was a joke had become an incident. She would NOT serve me a beer, but would allow one of my adult guests to order one on my behalf. I was incredibly embarrassed and frustrated with the lack of judgment she used to interact with our group.

What started as a fantastic afternoon with my children and friends had turned into a disappointing, frustrating and infuriating experience. We stayed at our table, but immediately her tip went from 20% to 15%. If it were not for my wife…she would have received ZERO from me.

I am a food and wine person that spends a great deal of time at restaurants. Your establishment has been one of my favorites for many years. It is a shame that one incident can change the perception of a customer from a fan, to a detractor.

As a salesperson I feel I owe it to the owners and management to bring this incident to light. I have always felt that good judgment is one of the most important skills a waitperson can have. While Nicole was very competent as a waitress, she was a failure as an ambassador of your brand.

I have attached a copy of my license, my itemized bill and for good measure my AARP card to validate my tale. I hope you can use this example to better train your staff and avoid future incidents. Pizza Paradiso, Two Amy’s and Comet will be happy with my $163 tab once a month.


Gerry Dunn


  1. I've been to Matchbox for lunch. I liked them a lot!

    She should've brought her manager over to play the bad cop. It would've protected her tip and taken the heat off her.

    I'll be interested to hear what management tells you!

    Tom Sakell :: harborsights.com

  2. I have never had a problem there, but this incident struck a raw nerve. Your comments on having management handle the situation was a good one. I too am interested to see how they handle the problem.

  3. Here is the response from Chris Shaller, the GM from Matchbox. I also had a phone message. Kudos to him and Matchbox for addressing the issue.

    From: Chris Schaller [mailto:chris.schaller@matchbox369.com]
    Sent: Monday, July 20, 2009 4:58 PM
    To: gerry@winegent.com
    Cc: Perry Smith
    Subject: We're Sorry!

    Dear Mr. Dunn,
    Thank you for taking the time to relay the details of your experience from Saturday evening. First and foremost, I'm sorry. I agree completely with you: some level of discretion needs to be available to take care of a guest and the least desired result is embarassing and or losing a guest through our inability to handle the situation properly.

    Nicole and I will sit down to review how the situation was handled and review possible more tactful or hospitable options for resolving similar issues. We have asked the servers to be "black-and-white" regarding the protection of our liquor license but managers always have the discretion to make educated decisions and, in this instance, I'm confident the involvement of a manager would have brought about a happier outcome for everyone.

    Again, I'm sincerely sorry for your experience. If you might give matchbox another try, I hope you might ask for me so I might apologize in person and get the first beer for you!

    Very sincerely,



Please enter comments here. Thank you.