By Kathy Johnson
Paul Matheny has a smile on his face and a bounce in his step these days after opening his own restaurant on Route 151 on August 29 for three weeks, closing in September to enlarge the kitchen, and reopening in mid-October.
“This is a lifelong dream. I learned how to cook when I was young. I had a good grandmother. Then I flunked band [at Henley in Crozet] and took home economics. Linda Keeney [his teacher] took me under her wing. She was kind of my mentor.” Matheny was fully charged as he talked about the education and training he received on the way to opening Paulie’s Pig Out.
“She told me to stick with it. I got my first job at the Gaslight washing dishes.” He told the owner he wanted to cook and the owner told him that every chef starts by washing dishes.
After two weeks the salad person didn’t come in. Matheny was up to his elbows in dirty dishes when the owner told him, “‘Okay—I’m going to be gone about 30 minutes. When I get back I need 30 salads in the cooler.’ I jumped off dishes and made the salads. Then I went back to the dishes,” as Matheny told it. When the owner returned he thought he didn’t have any salads made but when he saw what Matheny had done and that he was already back at the dishes, things began to change.
“Within two months I was running Saturday lunch by myself.” He was in school in Crozet at the time and working part time at Patterson’s.
After graduation Matheny moved to Richmond and now he’s back living in the Batesville area with his own restaurant on 151. And people are stopping by and coming back—the large erasable sign in the restaurant lists lots of local (Afton, Roseland, Charlottesville) visitors and many from Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Massachusetts.
“I’m strictly take-out,” Matheny said. “And everything is homemade,” a lot from his grandmother’s recipes.
His specialties include hickory smoked barbeque pork, baby back ribs and chicken. There is also a catfish sandwich and the “sides are all homemade too. The potato salad is my grandmother’s recipe.” Then there are his special baked macaroni salad, beans, coleslaw and homemade pies.
Paulie’s Pig Out is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 to 7 and Sunday from noon until 6. He is closed Monday and Tuesday. You can place an order by contacting Matheny at 434-361-2001.