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Posted at 12:32 PM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Rockville Matchbox (almost) ready for launch

By Tom Sietsema

Naysayers warned Ty Neal and his fellow Matchbox owners against opening their fourth location for burgers and pizza at 1699 Rockville Pike in Congressional Plaza. "'It's a terrible location! It's a failed site!' " Neal recalls people telling him.

But the restaurateurs forged ahead, acquiring the space (a shuttered PGA Tour Grill) last June and razing it the next month. Just to be on the safe side, they held "a demon-release party" that involved some alcohol, but "no blessings," jests Neal.

So far, so good. Pending final inspections today, the next Matchbox, built from scratch, should open for dinner this Saturday.

The numbers are impressive: a double hearth for cooking, 25-foot ceilings and 300 seats in 9,000 square feet. Among the amenities are an outdoor rooftop patio and (of more immediate interest in this frigid weather) two fire pits, one of which diners can be seated around.

The menu is similar to the mini-chain's other locations in Chinatown, Capitol Hill and Palm Springs, Calif. For consistency, veteran Matchbox chefs Jon McArthur and Jacob Hunter, both from the Chinatown kitchen, have relocated to the Rockville branch.

So who's in charge in Chinatown? Cliff Wharton, who (news flash!) recently left the Asian-inspired TenPenh downtown after a 10-year run.

By Tom Sietsema  | December 7, 2010; 12:32 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Restaurant openings, Tom Sietsema  
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