Area of labor: Matthew Medure took a chance within the Jacksonville meals scene and it paid off Jax Day by day Document | Jacksonville Day by day Document

People told him not to do it.

They told him he was crazy to leave his fabulous chef job at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island to open his own restaurant in Jacksonville.

But Matthew Medure wasn’t listening. And he proved everyone wrong.

ā€œThey told me that Jacksonville doesn’t have good food. That it was a meat and potato and grill town, ā€he said during an interview in his office about Matthews, the first restaurant he opened in 1997.

If he really wanted to open his own place, they said to him, “Go somewhere else.”

But that only fueled him.

“We’ll make it,” Medure told them.

And do it, he did it.

Medure serves high quality food prepared with French techniques. He flew in fish from all over the world. His brother David was sous chef.

Matthew’s was so successful from the start that it wasn’t long before the biggest challenge was finding people every night.

And the brothers continued to invest in the area.

Three years later they opened the Medure restaurant in Ponte Vedra Beach with David Medure as head chef.

In 2011, they opened their first old-fashioned burger joint, M Shack, in Atlantic Beach, followed by locations in St. John’s Town Center, Riverside, and Nocatee.

Last July, they opened MBQue in St. Augustine, a lunch and dinner grill place that cooks meat in a slow cooker all night.

And early next year they plan to open their eighth restaurant, Rue St. Marc, in San Marco across from Matthews. It will be a French restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and the first restaurant to offer breakfast.

It was a trip that Matthew Medure really enjoyed, especially since it was the realization of a lifelong dream.

He grew up in a food business family and always knew what he wanted to do.

His parents owned a catering company in a small town in Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh. It’s still a family run business.

Medure started working at age 11, worked hard, and put in long hours from a young age. Which he still does.

“But it still doesn’t seem like work,” he said. ā€œIt doesn’t feel like a chore. I’m used to it.”

With eight restaurants and 400 employees, Medure’s days are mostly devoted to his duties as CEO today, although he tries to get as deeply involved with the food and people side of the company as possible.

He bought the building Matthews was in 10 years ago, and the second floor is now the commercial offices. It is just a short walk down the stairs to the restaurant and across the street to Rue St. Marc.

Medure’s first love is cooking. “And what I love most, I do the least now,” he said.

He said he enjoyed what he was doing but hoped to find someone one day to take over the tasks that he does now.

“And let me get back to my true love – creating great food,” he said.

Medure started creating great food when he was 14 when he opened his own sausage shop in the family’s catering kitchen.

After school, he made sausages from scratch using a long-standing family recipe and his father sold them in the family business the next day.

He kept this up through high school, where he could study culinary arts with academics.

Upon graduation, he enrolled at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, a two-year program that he described as “expanding his world” and graduating top of his class.

That led to an internship at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, where he said his “eyes are really open”.

There he met a top chef in the company, whom he watched whenever he could.

“I would just watch him and say,” OK, that’s what I want to do, “he said.” I wanted to be a chef. I wanted to touch the food every day. “

After a year he was selected to go to the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island where he helped open the hotel.

In the first few months he wore a hard hat in the kitchen during construction. But there he could really improve his skills.

Medure had a free hand, the world shop, and developed relationships with local farmers who, he said, “did farm-to-table before it was fashionable”.

He loved the Ritz, but after six years the next logical step in his career was to open his own restaurant.

David had come to work for him and they loved working together. “So I said open a restaurant with me,” said Medure.

They found an old bank building on Hendricks Avenue where they could rent the first floor. They gutted it and created Matthews.

Ten years ago, when Medure realized the scope of his endeavors, he bought the building to serve as the base for all of the restaurants. He also renovated and expanded the first floor and added a full bar.

Now he’s looking forward to opening rue St. Marc, where he and his brother will work with a few employees who will own part of the business.

“It’s going to be very casual and hip,” he said of the restaurant that opens after the first of the year. “An exciting, lively, noisy atmosphere with lots of communal tables.”

In retrospect, Medure is thrilled that he decided to stay in Jacksonville all those years ago.

“I love Jacksonville,” he said. “And I’m excited to be part of the growing culinary community.”

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