Today is Mardi Gras and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than highlighting Matthew Lewis and his Creole food truck, Where Ya At Matt. Matthew brings the bold flavors of his hometown of New Orleans to the streets of the Greater Seattle area (along with a soft spot for country music). He grew up helping his mom and grandmother in the kitchen and making traditional Creole dishes like jambalaya and étouffée. Since then, he refined his skills at the Culinary Institute of America, worked at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle, Canlis, and more until he opened the The Where Ya At Matt food truck in 2010.
Get to know more about Matthew in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A. Where Ya At Matt is also featured in the Soul of Seattle & Intentionalist Chef Box and Soul of Seattle & Intentionalist Small Business Voucher Pack, making it easy to grab a bite of the Big Easy.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
It’s probably the contributions we make to the community, whether it’s through volunteering our time for things, donating meals, things like that. We give a lot back as much as we can because we feel like we couldn’t do it without the community around us, and we support all aspects of the community. The biggest thing we’ve done through the pandemic is we fed a lot of the service industry either at a discount or for free and just basic community outreach, which is fulfilling donation requests and things like that.
What’s your favorite part about the community your business is in and why?
We get so much back from our community because it’s such an eclectic group, whether it’s somebody that’s a transplant from the South, particularly New Orleans, or somebody that just has a love of our food. Just to see the eclectic nature of it — you see all colors in line, you see all people in line, you see all beliefs and everything else represented there, and food becomes that common denominator that brings them all together.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
I don’t think people necessarily realize how much small businesses, especially restaurants, give back to the community, whether it’s through donations or [supporting] different events in the community. And in this time where it’s already thin margins in business and when we’re not able to hit the numbers we’re used to hitting, we’re still trying to keep our staff employed. The more people that can spend with us, the more money we’re able to provide to other people that are behind the scenes and work in the company that would otherwise not have a job right now. So, all of that is just really appreciated.