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The Wharf Loses Its Matchbox Pizza But Gains a Gastropub

Thompson Hospitality decides to bring Makers Union to the Southwest Waterfront instead

Grilled lamb lollipops at Makers Union.
Makers Union
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Thompson Hospitality just scratched plans to put its wood-fired Slice of Matchbox on the Wharf and will now open its catch-all neighborhood tavern in the same space later this summer.

The Reston, Va.-based force behind a swath of bars and restaurants like Hen Quarter, The Delegate, Austin Grill, and American Tap Room originally planned to bring Matchbox’s fast-casual offshoot to the Wharf’s booming Phase 2 development this spring (664 Maine Avenue SW). Now Makers Union, born in Reston Town Center in 2019, appears to be the better and more versatile fit.

This Matchbox signage will soon be swapped out for Makers Union.
Life Expressed Online

Billed as a “pub for the people,” all-day Makers Union functions as sports bar, weekday happy hour hangout, brunch spot, and coffee shop in one. Community blogger WharfLifeDC first flagged the switcheroo this week, and Thompson confirmed the news to Eater.

Makers Union’s bar shows love for local distillers and beers, with its own Makers IPA brewed in D.C., and Matcha Garden cocktail with Catoctin Creek Watershed gin, matcha, honey ginger syrup, lemon, and orgeat. Other Reston imports could include Virginia oysters, wings, salads (ahi tuna poke, wedge, and kale chicken Caesar), Creekstone Farms Angus beef burgers, mac and cheese, Moroccan-style Impossible kebabs, three-course ribeye dinners for two, and fish and chips—which seems to be the Wharf’s trendiest order as of late.

As for the reason behind the sudden swap? Thompson sent this somewhat-boilerplate statement to Eater:

“Makers Union is all about community, inclusion, and amazing experiences. The team at Thompson Hospitality felt like that ethos is at the cross section of what the Wharf as a development and community is all about as well.”

A look inside Makers Union’s original Reston location.
Makers Union

Thompson, which currently owns 20 distinct brands with over 70 locations, bought Matchbox in 2018 with an $11 million pledge to grow the homegrown pizza chain. There’s 15 locations across the DMV and Florida today. The 30-year-old hospitality company’s pie portfolio grew last year with the acquisition of local thin-crust favorite Wiseguy Pizza. Soul food restaurant Milk & Honey Café, another of Thompson’s newer fast-growing brands, is still on tap to debut soon next to the future Makers Union.

The flashy second phase of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront’s $3.6 billion Wharf development will add a dozen fine-dining and quick-serve establishments to the mile-long scenic stretch of the Potomac. Upcoming arrivals include Philippe Chow, Lucky Buns, Mason’s Lobster Rolls, Zooz Cocktail Garden, Press Club Cocktail Bar, and more.