Co-owner, master of ceremonies, fan of tavern-style pizza
Matt Hyde was working as a roadie with a rock band in the ‘90s when he landed in Lawrence.
“There’s not much difference between being a roadie to getting ready in a restaurant for the show each night,” he says.
The Illinois native got back on the bus to finish out the tour but soon returned to put down roots. He started working in restaurants, including the fabled Teller’s Restaurant on Mass Street, where he rose to the position of general manager.
Eager to direct his own nightly production, Matt created 715 with chef/business partner Michael Beard. The restaurant opened inside a former jewelry store in 2009 with a contemporary American menu including Italian dishes and an emphasis on farm-to-table ingredients.
“We had a clear vision of what we wanted to be and expected the community to embrace our vision, but quickly realized we needed to open our minds up,” Matt says, “so listening to staff and guests continues to remain paramount.”
Even as the average American eats out five times a week, Matt strives to treat each diner as if they are celebrating a special occasion.
“I still believe dining out better be a good show. We have to play our greatest hits every night and create a dynamic environment,” he says. “It’s easy to get into a rut and hard to get out of it. Rut prevention is one of my focuses, because it’s so easy to get complacent and take people, things and this beautiful space for granted.”
Matt also strives to empower his staff, many whom have remained employed at the restaurant almost since the beginning.
“Post-pandemic, we need to break out of the previous restaurant template. The script is really tight in a lot of places,” he says. “Here it’s much more important to be nice and pay attention to what the customer wants.”
A keen observer of mood and tempo, Matt easily reads the mood of a party seated during happy hour.
“I’m always watching, watching, watching, watching,” he says. “They are telling us so much: the way they are carrying themselves, the way they are projecting their voices, if they’re happy or sad, if they’re celebrating something. Sometimes we blow it, but it’s really important to pay attention”