MATTHEWS – In the early stages of the pandemic, when schools and non-essential businesses were on lockdown, Justin Hayes and Jason Haas had an idea.
“What if we open a market that promotes locally made products?”
That idea became a reality on Sept. 1, when the duo opened Fullwood Market on East John Street in downtown Matthews.
“We wanted to be a place in the community where people can get things made in the community,” Hayes said.
The majority of products at Fullwood Market are made in the Carolinas and many come from the Charlotte region. Customers can buy ice cream from Two Scoops Creamery, pastries from Sunflower Baking Company, loaves of Dukes Bread and kombucha from Lenny Boy, UpDog (Winston-Salem) and Sum Bucha.
There’s also drip coffee and cold brew on tap from Pure Intentions Coffee (Charlotte) and a variety of local bagged coffee from places like Mint Hill Roasting Company, Magnolia Coffee Company (Matthews) and Enderly Coffee Company (Charlotte).
Shelves are stocked with unique, small batch goods like honey from Dancing Bees Farm (Monroe), Iva Jean’s Fudge (Waxhaw), elderberry syrup from Honest Elderberry Co. (Rock Hill, S.C.), pepper jelly from Noni’s Gourmet Kitchen (Matthews) and soon craft beer and wine.
The tagline at Fullwood Market is “Local products for local people,” but the name itself is a nod to Matthews history.
In the early 19th century, the settlement that would become Matthews was unofficially named Stumptown for all the stumps left from making way for cotton farms. The community’s name later changed to Fullwood after the area’s postmaster, John Miles Fullwood. He operated a stagecoach depot, store and post office from his home. Fullwood was an important stagecoach stop between Charlotte and Monroe.
Haas and Hayes imagine Fullwood’s store was full of goods from local people making their lives better.
“If people were coming to sell stuff at the stop, it was their stuff, which is like what we do here,” Haas said.
Hayes said buying local helps the local economy and the pandemic has brought that to light. Customers are willing to spend a little more to get high quality goods made by people in the community because they understand how much time, effort and passion went into making it.
“I think it just resonates with people now instead of funneling more money into huge corporations,” Hayes said. “It just means more.”
The kitchen at Fullwood Market opens at 11 a.m. for a full menu of house-made soups, salads and sandwiches available for dine in or take away. There’s also a grab-and-go cooler with tubs of chicken salad and pimento cheese. Hayes said they’re thinking about expanding into breakfast foods, too.
For lunch, there’s a stacked menu of sandwiches like grilled hanger steak, chicken salad, pimento cheese, meatball sub, lox bagel and a unique twist on the BLT, called the TBLT. It has cornmeal fried tilapia, bacon jam, sun-dried tomato spread and spring mix on whole wheat.
The chopped cheese sandwich is Hayes’ version of a cheesesteak. It has ground beef, sliced cheddar, caramelized onions and grilled peppers on a hoagie roll.
“It’s our homage to the New York bodega,” Hayes said.
Despite any uncertainties, Haas said they weren’t scared to start a business during a pandemic. Maybe it’s their entrepreneurial spirit, but Haas said they were confident the concept of Fullwood Market would stick.
Both have been in the restaurant industry for over a decade and have experience running a business together. Haas owns White Duck Taco on E. 10th St. in Charlotte, and Hayes is the kitchen manager there.
The duo spent a lot of time planning Fullwood Market. Because of the pandemic, they decided to move toward less of a dine-in vibe and more of a to-go place. The layout of the space lent itself more to that model anyways, Haas said.
“It kind of forced our hand to rethink the traditional business model of a restaurant,” Hayes added.
Want to go?
Fullwood Market is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday at 131 East John St., Suite B, Matthews. Visit www.fullwood market.com or call 980-339-3393 for details.