Meet Matthew Rangel
Co-owner of The Pour House Neighborhood Sports Pub & My Family's Pizza
Matthew Rangel, Co-owner of The Pour House Neighborhood Sports Pub & My Family's Pizza
Hi wife, Mikie, and children, Monica & Jack
It’s bright and early on a Thursday morning, around 8:30am in Lakewood. I just parked my car and was walking toward The Pour House on Skillman St. near Live Oak to meet an alum. Two Dallas Firefighters who had just finished breakfast at a nearby eatery were laughing and chatting with the person I was there to meet, Woodrow Class of 1990 alum and co-owner of The Pour House, Matthew Rangel. He introduced us all and proceeded to complete his conversation about their kids and wives, upcoming Homecoming plans, and a promise to get a burger together very soon. It struck me that here’s a guy who’s just a regular Joe, has a wife and kids, just like anybody else. His job is just a job, but it’s one that he loves and is passionate about – obviously because it allows him to do what he does best…cultivate relationships. As he waved them goodbye, he unlocked and opened the front door of The Pour House Neighborhood Sports Pub and ushered us inside.
Once Matthew had turned the alarm off and a few lights on, and after he graciously offered to make me a Bloody Mary (which I definitely would have taken him up on any other time, but politely refused), we sat down and began our conversation. But before we could, a man walks in the front door and Matthew waves him in. Apparently, it’s quarterly pest control day at the Pub. Right after that, the back door swings open and vendors start filing in with dollies full of needed supplies for the Pub and Restaurant. It’s early, but clearly this is the time Matthew’s day starts even though opening time is hours later. We each had a good laugh and let the bug man and vendors do their jobs while we finally got to chat.
WWHSAA: Tell us about your background...give us some insight into your story.
MR: Well, I started elementary school at Stonewall Jackson, which is now Mockingbird Elementary…I got in trouble for not pointing that out one time!... Then went to St. Thomas for eight years, and then Woodrow followed. After graduation, I decided to stay home and go to Richland College and had a good experience. As soon as I finished that up, I started working in the restaurant business right away. My first job was on Greenville Avenue at Mockingbird at I Love Yogurt. But my first restaurant job, I believe, was waiting tables at the original Chili's Grill on Greenville Ave. at Meadow. And I pretty much worked my way down to Lower Greenville and worked in every bar on Greenville Avenue until I realized I wanted to go and open up my own place.
Matthew Rangel, behind the bar just after the Pour House opened in 2002.
WWHSAA: So that’s when you opened The Pour House?
MR: Yeah. I became friends with Bob Peterson, who's passed away now. He owned Aw Shucks and Blue Goose. And he owned this place before me. He and I got along, so we worked out a deal pretty quickly. We took over in 2002. We've been here for over 21 years now. And I've always liked the sports concept of course, I love sports period, you know, so I mean, that was a no brainer for me. My business partner, Troy Swinson, ran the Lone Star Oyster Bar on Greenville Avenue before he joined me here.
WWHSAA: Wow, that sounds like it was all meant to be.
MR: Well, we have a lot of friends and family in the area, and being close to Lakewood…right here…and close to Woodrow. It really helped me establish a good regular rapport with all the people in the neighborhood. Also, we are a big supporter of schools, Woodrow of course, but all schools, as well as the Dallas Police and Fire Departments. We’re even considered a Police Bar, which is great.
The Pour House Neighborhood Sports Pub Dining, Bar, & Dog-Friendly Patio area
WWHSAA: Tell me more about supporting area schools. How does The Pour House give back in that respect?
MR: Well, I make it a priority to hire area high school students to work next door, for one.
WWHSAA: Next door… You’re talking about My Family’s Pizza. Let’s talk about that. We will come back to the giving back topic in a minute. When did you open the restaurant side?
MR: Oh my gosh…when was that? It was 2013. I remember because my wife had just had our daughter and couldn’t eat dairy, which meant no pizza. And that was right when we opened.
WWHSAA: How did you know you wanted to start a pizza business?
MR: Ok, don't get mad at me. (He says with a smile.) I moved up north to WT White Country. But I took my wardrobe up there and they don't like it at all. (We both begin laughing.) They love giving me trouble about it because I wear Woodrow gear to every WT White baseball game or football game I go to, and they just hate it! So, I moved up north and met Frank Nuccio, who owned Pizza by Marco at Preston and Royal, which opened in 1956. I went in all the time because it’s my favorite pizza in Dallas. One day, he came down here and we had a cocktail and he said, “Why don't you open one here?” And so, I did. That’s what we have next door, as My Family’s Pizza. His shop actually closed after the tornado ripped through the area in 2019. It just demolished his shop and he never rebuilt. But he did open a supply shop and that’s where I get our pizza dough and sauce.
WWHSAA: But pizza isn’t all you offer, right?
MR: Oh no, we have a complete lunch and dinner menu. And a brunch menu on Sundays. Pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads, all sorts of high-end appetizers, like calamari, garlic bread, toasted ravioli, just to name a few. We also have all the bar food staples, like cheese fries, wings, chicken strips, nachos, etc. Only a lot better than typical bar food, because it’s all made from scratch, with fresh ingredients. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but it’s worth the wait! The comment I get the most from those who order food is, “Wow, this is actually really good.” People are always surprised that our food isn’t typical “bar food”.
Popular Pour House Fare - The Rally Burger, Pecan Salad, & The Maximus
WWHSAA: Ok, so now let’s get back to our prior conversation about giving back. You mentioned you try and make it a priority to hire area high school students. I assume to work next door, at My Family’s Pizza.
MR: Yeah, there is always at least one or two students working next door. Right now, I have two Woodrow students and one Booker T student working next door. I try to take care of them and look over them as much as I can, as a Mentor…I don’t “parent” them…I just try and teach them basic good work ethic, like “Hey, you gotta be here on time!”, etc.
WWHSAA: I know it was difficult for a lot of restaurants and bars during the pandemic. Was that a tough time for The Pour House and My Family’s Pizza?
MR: Yeah. And I am very proud to say, by the way, Woodrow did, Woodrow took care of me immensely during COVID. As far as showing me support, buying pizzas. The whole Community did.
Dallas Police supporting The Pour House during COVID.
WWHSAA: You were really creative with coming up with ways to keep this place afloat during the pandemic. Tell us about that.
MR: Oh the Pizza Kits were a huge success. I will sell them to schools at a discount. For instance, whether it's Elementary, wherever my kids were going, I would pick the day before Thanksgiving break. And I would have a sign up. I sold 103 Pizza Kits to my kids’ school, and I gave back 20% of sales back to the school. I did that for Lipscomb and Mockingbird, too. Now, you know a lot of high school kids don't want to do it because you know that's more for elementary age. But it's a great way to get people or families together to do it on a Friday night, at home. And it's quality pizza, fresh dough, fresh sauce, fresh grated provolone, meats, toppings, etc. That’ something that we still do today.
WWHSAA: And you were able to keep all of your employees during the pandemic, too, right?
MR: I am very proud of not losing a single employee. Almost every employee I've ever had in 21 years has been my friend first. And then my employee after. So I trust them completely and made every effort to keep them on the payroll during COVID. It was hard, but we did it. With the help from this amazing Community and some creative ideas, we did it. Hunter is probably prouder than I am of that. She tells everyone!
WWHSAA: You’re talking about your long-time bartender, Hunter Young. I think most of your patrons really appreciate Hunter. How long has she been working for you?
MR: A long time…12 years! And yeah, everyone loves Hunter!
Hunter Young, Beloved Pour House Bartender & Realtor for @properties | Christie's International Real Estate
WWHSAA: What is your favorite part about being a business owner in Lakewood? What do you appreciate most?
MR: I would probably have to say the friendships I've made in 21 years. I try to take care of them, and they try to take care of me. I think that's what’s helped make this place sustainable for 21 years. I mean, we're not always packed. We're just running at the level that we need to. People seem to appreciate that. They feel it’s their bar. And it’s through these friendships that I’ve been able to be involved in the community and give back. They make me want to, you know?
WWHSAA: And the hardest part?
MR: Well, other than COVID and me getting old, it’s the hours. If I had a dollar for every time somebody said, “I don't know how you do this, Matthew.” Yeah, I would be retired. When we opened, and for years, I worked every single day, 7 days a week, for about 10 to 12 hours a day. And right after COVID I was pushing 65 hours a week trying to get back into the swing of things. I think it will eventually even out, but we’re still not there yet. I still need more people at My Family’s Pizza. Sometimes we can’t deliver pizzas because we just don’t have a driver, and I hate that…our customers hate that. In this business, it's really hard. Because you have to find someone you can trust with basically your own bank account. Right? And that's really, I mean, that's the hardest part to do.
WWHSAA: Is it getting better?
MR: Yeah. I mean, I’m still here! Considering how many restaurants and bars shut down during COVID and we’re still here, that right there says we will survive. And again, I have to keep coming back and giving credit to this Community. It’s because of those special relationships that we are still able to be so involved and give back as much as we have.
WWHSAA: So what’s on the calendar next?
MR: Woodrow Homecoming, of course!
The Pour House Neighborhood Sports Pub is once again hosting an After Party this Friday, September 29th, after the Woodrow Homecoming Game. Matthew always gets really excited about Woodrow Homecoming Weekend because he knows his Pub will be full of familiar faces, from near and far, laughing, reminiscing, and having a genuinely great time. This year, he’s offering Woodrow Alumni Domestic draft specials on Friday September 29th. But he also has an impressive TWENTY-ONE beer varieties on tap, along with all sorts of liquors and spirits.
Matthew currently lives (in shame) in North Dallas with his wife of nineteen years, Mikie, and their two children, Monica – 10 years, and Jack – 13 years.
The Pour House Neighborhood Sports Pub is located at 1919 Skillman St., Dallas, TX 75214