Food Service & Agriculture, Human Resources, and Retail

Eastown restaurant hires executive chef

November 13, 2017
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Michael Santo
Michael Santo. Courtesy Matchbox Diner & Drinks

A Grand Rapids diner has named an executive chef with a diverse culinary background to expand the restaurant’s “comfort food” offerings.

Matchbox Diner & Drinks, a "casual" American-style restaurant in the city's Eastown neighborhood, said last month it hired Michael Santo for the role.

Santo has added several new dishes to the Matchbox menu, including “comfort food” items, such as mac 'n' cheese, fried chicken, shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.

“We are creating real comfort food, the stuff you only get at mom’s or when you were growing up,” Santo said. “We may not be the pretty plate, but we will be the tastiest.”

Santo’s background

Santo has worked in catering, butchery, brewery and gastropub settings.

“Entertainment and food have always flowed in my veins,” Santo said.

Educated at the California Culinary Academy, an affiliate of Le Cordon Blue, Santo returned to West Michigan to try his hand at a number of projects.

He was part of the opening crew at Reds at Thousand Oaks — previously Reds on the River — and then launched a catering company called Chef2Go.

Santo has worked at the University Club of Grand Rapids, Graydon’s Crossing, Peas & Carrots Hospitality and 57 Brew Pub & Bistro.

He has also served as executive chef with North Italia, a James Beard Award-winning restaurant chain with locations in several states.


Matchbox Diner & Drinks opened earlier this year.

The diner and delicatessen serves breakfast all day, as well as deli sandwiches, burgers, milkshakes, malts, a handful of seasonal entrees and more.

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