By Steven Hoffman
When Oxford’s newest restaurant debuts in late January, it will be affordable and familiar. That's according to Matthew Schlott, who has spent the last several months planning the menu for Downtown Pasta.
Schlott has been leading Nottingham Inn, LLC for the last three years, overseeing the extensive renovation of the restaurant, hotel, and creamery owned by Herr Foods. Downtown Pasta will be the newest addition to the family.
“The Herrs brought me in to oversee the hospitality part of the company,” Schlott explained. “The Herrs wanted to help bring some hospitality businesses to Oxford and Nottingham. We saw a need for a restaurant like this in downtown Oxford. This fits the company’s goal to be a blessing to the community.”
Schlott grew up working in French restaurants in Montgomery County, and he has utilized his more than 40 years of experience in the industry to revamp the Nottingham Inn, LLC businesses. The loyalty program for the 47-seat Kitchen and Creamery has tallied more than 4,000 members in the last two and a half years thanks to a menu of American heartland cuisine that is made with the best ingredients from local farms and dairies.
“The community has been very supportive of the restaurant,” Schlott said. He is confident that Downtown Pasta will receive that same kind of support. Downtown Pasta, like the Kitchen & Creamery, will epitomize the popular farm-to-table concept and use ingredients from local farms and dairies.
Although “pasta” is in its name, the restaurant’s offerings will include much more than that.
“It will be a broad-based menu,” Schlott said. “I’ve worked with a great team to develop the concept and the menu. We’ll have a menu that has small plates, salads, and specialty entrees. We wanted to make sure that we have a restaurant that fits the community. We wanted to have food that is affordable and familiar and pasta does that.”
According to Schlott, affordability and familiarity are very important in the restaurant industry, and he wants people to consider Downtown Pasta a home away from home.
“I want people to find a comfortable rhythm with the restaurant,” Schlott explained. “It has to be affordable, we would like to see our guests come in two or three times a week. It will feel comfortable because it will have a bistro-style atmosphere. We’re not interested in transactions; we’re interested in relationships.”
Schlott said that Downtown Pasta will follow the lead of the other Nottingham Inn facilities by emphasizing good service—doing so is more important than ever in the restaurant industry, and Schlott feels strongly about making personal connections.
“We want people to feel like regulars the first time they come in,” Schlott said. “You have to hire people who are sincere and who can make connections.”
Part of offering good service in today’s environment is to make sure that diners’ expectations are met when it comes to the speed of service.
“I don’t think diners always have an hour and a half to eat a meal,” Schlott explained. “We want to be able to have people sit down, have a meal, and then leave within 40 or 45 minutes—if that’s what they want to do. Speed of service is really important.”
Schlott said that Jan. 21 is the target for the opening. He added that everyone involved is enthusiastic that Downtown Pasta will be debuting in a business district that recently added Flickerwood Wine Cellars Tasting Room and a renovated Octoraro Hotel & Tavern.
“There are a lot of things happening in Oxford,” Schlott said. “What we are really excited about is being in Oxford. I feel lucky that this opportunity presented itself to us. Oxford is poised to become a dynamic downtown, and it has a fantastic surrounding community.”
Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI) executive director Sue Cole said that she is very pleased to have Downtown Pasta joining Oxford’s business district.
“OMI is very excited about the addition of Downtown Pasta to our restaurant offerings,” she said. “Matthew Schlott serves as the chairman of OMI’s Economic Development Committee and is a strong leader in the restaurant industry. He has a lot of experience in building economies in other areas, such as Atlantic City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Matthew is working with the committee, applying his experience and knowledge toward the committee’s goals, and has already made a positive difference in downtown Oxford over the last six months.
“We are very grateful and lucky to have his talent. We are confident that Downtown Pasta will be successful.”