“There Is Nothing Sexy about Chain Restaurants.”

Thus spake Jerry McCoy, president of the Silver Spring Historical Society, in reference to the chain-store-ification of downtown Silver Spring, MD – the town which serves as my current place of beer drinking. I mean residence. Well, both I guess, but I suppose that is redundant.

In any case, I was reading the new issue of The Advocate, which some guy drops off at our door every month, and noticed a quote from this Jerry McCoy fellow saying that the historic Silver Spring Fire Station No. 1 “may become a Matchbox Pizza restaurant and microbrewery.”

Now I had read that the folks who own Hook and Ladder Brewing Co. have been working on a deal to buy this building and convert it into a brewpub but I hadn’t heard this “Matchbox” name being used until now. As soon as I read it, I suspected it was a chain or franchise or something – it just has that ring to it. But, thankfully, googling turned up the existence of no such chain.

So I checked the Hook and Ladder website and found an article that appeared in the June issue of the Maryland Gazette that also quotes McCoy talking about the pending brewpub and referred to it as a model that he hopes could be used to preserve other historic buildings in Silver Spring. Clearly an advocate of local business, he even said, “There is nothing sexy about chain restaurants.” So, I’m hoping this means Matchbox is not a licensed chain but just a clever name that the Hook and Ladder guys devised as a tie-in to the whole firefighting theme. Other than Franklin’s in Hyattsville, this will be the only non-chain locally-owned brewpub in the Washington metro area.

All this talk of fire and beer is making me thirsty. Unfortunately, my closest fresh beer option is the Rock Bottom in Bethesda – one of the larger national brewpub chains. Their beer is good and the service is usually decent as well. However, I must whole-heartedly concur that, as a chain, the place absolutely lacks soul. Gigantic TV screens intrude in just about every corner of visual space and loud vapid pop-oriented rock booms over any attempt at a conversation. But then, there is the beer…


7 Responses to “There Is Nothing Sexy about Chain Restaurants.”

  1. Liz says:

    There’s a Matchbox at Gallery Place, and they’re planning another for Capitol Hill. So, it might be a local chain. The Gallery Place location has tasty pizza and a good beer selection.

  2. Al says:

    Take a trip up to Frederick some time. Neither Brewer’s Alley nor Barley and Hops are chains.

  3. Al says:

    And, of course, Growlers in Gaithersburg.

  4. Jon says:

    As an aspiring homebrewer who is about to move to the D.C. area (perhaps even Silver Springs), I had been wondering about local brewpub options. It is a bit disheartening to hear about such limited options. But perhaps I should take it as good news that it will soon be a bit better than it was.

    As for old firehouses converted to breweries, it was done well in Rapid City, South Dakota by the Fire House Brewing Company (http://www.firehousebrewing.com/).

  5. beeractivist says:

    Liz: thanks for the tip. So maybe it is a chain, or a budding chain, after all? Here’s their website, btw: http://www.matchboxdc.com/index.shtml

    Al: I wouldn’t consider any of these within the Washington D.C. metro area, but I have been to Brewers Alley and Growlers many times, and both are locally-owned as far as I know. I’ve actually never checked out Barley and Hops though.

    Jon: Cool. Thanks for this. I love breweries in historic buildings.


  6. Graig says:

    Hey, just stumbled on the website here. I don’t know what’s become of this situation, but Matchbox Pizza isn’t exactly a chain. They opened a location in Gallery Place/Chinatown, then one in California, and they just opened a second on Capital Hill. Their pizza is great and they have a pretty selective beer selection. Before you get upset that a “chain” might be coming in, you should give them a try. I love the place and always look forward to getting an Allagash White or a Chimay from the tap when I go!

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