By Justin Matt Sapolsky W’08/WG’12, co-founder of Matt & Marie’s Modern Italian Sandwiches
It was an easy decision for Matt & Marie’s to open in Philadelphia. “Philadelphia” was even part of our logo long before we found our first location at 100 North 18th Street. And judging by the many familiar faces who have stopped by in our first few weeks, it seems that more and more student entrepreneurs are choosing to stay in Philadelphia after graduation.
Most importantly for Matt & Marie’s, the food scene in Philadelphia is phenomenal. The people are adventurous when it comes to trying new things, and very supportive of new concepts. There is a great community of bloggers and writers who cover food trends and restaurants closely, which helped us get the word out. And for our Italian specialty concept, there isn’t a better place in the country to get access to top quality Italian foods and imports.
Beyond the food, you just need to look up in any direction to see that Philadelphia is growing. We are fortunate to be across the street from the construction of the new Comcast building. And large scale development is happening in many other neighborhoods, giving great opportunities to expand within the city. The rising tide raises all ships, and as Philadelphia continues to grow it will create great opportunities for all companies here.
Philadelphia has also left its impression on us as a community that supports entrepreneurship. We have been involved in many startup weekends, conferences, meetups and the like over the past few years. There is a large and growing community of entrepreneurs who go out of their way to help one another. A group of 15 local entrepreneurs camped out at one of our tables on the 3rd day we were open! And we see local startups in the store every day.
Even outside of the startup community, people in this city are generally very supportive. If you watch the morning news shows, you will see tons of interviews with small businesses, because that is what interests everyone. People walk into our store every day with good wishes, encouragement and great thoughts. Just generally, Philadelphia is really receptive of startups.
And finally, I do not think you can overlook the benefit of being in a great academic city. With Penn, Drexel, Temple and Villanova here pretty much anywhere you go you are likely to know someone. So when we decided to open in Center City, we already had a connection with thousands of potential customers working in the surrounding buildings. That’s not a bad way to start out.
The response from the community has been fantastic. We really appreciate all of the support, and strongly suggest that other startups launch within Philadelphia.
Bio: Justin Matt Sapolsky W’08 WG’12 is the co-founder of Matt & Marie’s Modern Italian Sandwiches. Matt & Marie’s has been featured in Zagats, Philly.com, Eater and Fox News for their modern spin on classic sandwiches. Learn more at www.MattandMaries.com.