In 1997, Matt Bartholomy had two business strategies in mind: be close to Murray State’s campus and sell pizza by the slice. Thus, Matt B’s Main Street Pizza was born.
Having been a pizza man for 13 years prior to Matt B’s, Bartholomy gives his business credit to both Mr. Gatti’s and a monthly trade journal called Pizza Today.
“I worked for the Mr. Gatti’s Corporation for 13 years, and I had done all I could do as a manager for Mr. Gatti’s,” he said. “I managed three different Mr. Gatti’s in three different cities and I always wanted to get back to Murray. At the time, Murray had a lot of great pizzerias, but I knew the one thing that it didn’t have was pizza by the slice.”
When Bartholomy opened the pizzeria after leaving work at Gatti’s, he was surprised to receive a variety of customers.
“To my delight, our clientele is a mix of everyone from workers to college students to faculty to maintenance workers and locals,” he said. “For 15 years, the concept has worked without us really depending on one group of people.”
The restaurant is considered a favorite in town, as it has been voted “Best Pizza” by local newspapers for years.
Matt B’s offers specialty pizzas, regular pizzas, calzones, salads, breads and spaghetti. Customers can eat in, take out or call in for delivery.
For each weekday, there are different pizza lunch specials.
“Every day we make a specialty pizza except for Saturdays,” Bartholomy said. “It will be something unusual that you don’t see every day. It could be a baked potato pizza, a chicken bacon ranch pizza or even a double-stuffed Chicago-style pizza.”
The restaurant orders its fresh ingredients from Farm Boy Foods in Evansville, Ind., and Sysco Nashville in Nashville, Tenn. Bartholomy claims that these are the best places to get pizza ingredients.
“We want to try to make the best pizza that we possibly can,” he said. “And to do that, you need your own mixer to make your own dough, you need to make your dough fresh every day, you need to try to buy the top of the line cheese and you need to buy great products and cut your products yourself. Don’t use any frozen stuff.”
The restaurant employs many high school and college students. An average day for a Matt B’s employee looks something like this: come in around 8 a.m., start making dough, salads and pizzas for the display case, chop vegetables and get ready to open. After 2 p.m., a new shift comes in to work for the rest of the evening.
“We’re fortunate not to be a chain and by that we make our own rules,” Bartholomy said. “I think that’s one of the advantages to working here as a college kid.”
One thing that separates Matt B’s from other pizza restaurants is the fact that they freehand their dough based on their own estimates instead of using premeasured dough.
“When you eat at Matt B’s pizza, it will never be the exact same pizza every time because we freehand,” he said. “I just tell the kids ‘hey, make it like you’re going to make it for you.’”
Matt B’s is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The pizzeria is located at 1411 Main St. in Murray.
Faces & Places is a weekly series that profiles the people and places of Murray. Every person and every place has a story. Let us tell it.
Story by Anna Taylor, Features Editor.