BY Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Matt Pool has always had his hand in the restaurant business. He worked his way through ASU by delivering room service at the Phoenix Airport Hilton.
Naturally, he met his wife, Erenia, at a restaurant. But when he and Erenia were working opposite shifts, they bet on Pool’s whim—opening his own place in a red brick building he happened to drive by in Downtown Phoenix.
“When our child (Christopher) was 2, we thought we needed to get a new career,” Pool recalls. “I was working nights and she was working days. It wasn’t conducive to family life. I missed his first two Halloweens.”
Matt’s Big Breakfast has been a breakfast, lunch and brunch staple since 2004, when Pool set up shop in Phoenix. He has since expanded his operation to additional cities and states. He owes his success to his opposition to microwaves and freezers.
“I tell people I think we have great food, great ingredients and we make everything from scratch,” Pool says. “People come to breakfast for different reasons—our service, we’re friendly. We built our business by word of mouth. For the most part, we built our customer base one customer at a time.”
Recently, Pool opened a location near the Scottsdale Airpark at 13610 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 1.
“We’ve been open for more than 15 years,” he says. “We’ve had people come to our other restaurants from Carefree and Cave Creek, and they always asked us to someday open a North Scottsdale restaurant. We don’t really grow that fast, but we had it in the back of our heads.
“We just needed the right space and the right neighborhood. We like that area because it’s nice to be next to commercial areas. That area has tons of neighborhoods, 360 degrees. We’re a family business. So far, it’s worked out.”
Like Pool’s other locations, guests flock to Matt’s Big Breakfast for its bacon, which he purchases from The Pork Shop in San Tan Valley.
“They make amazing bacon,” says Pool, 51. “That’s been our staple item. Next we’re known for our griddle cakes or waffles. We make them from scratch. We don’t use a mixer or mix. It’s a simple recipe—flour, real butter, milk and sugar and we whisk it by hand.”
Next up are stores at 75th Avenue and Rose Garden Lane in Glendale, and in a year and a half Matt’s Big Breakfast will open its doors in Epicenter, Joe Johnston’s latest endeavor at Higley and Ray roads in Gilbert.
“We’re really excited about that,” Pool says. “It’s an underserved market. There are so many people who live out there. There are more restaurants than there used to be, but it can’t catch up.”
Pool is grateful to have spent the last 18 years with his son on his terms. They have plenty of time to catch up.
“It was really nice to be in control of our own schedule throughout our child’s life,” he says. “We were busier when we were smaller because we had less help. We never missed a thing, though—anything school related or extracurricular related. It was perfect.”