Three Minutes Across the Counter With: Justin Mattera

We spent three minutes across the counter with Justin Mattera, owner of Longboards Cafe in Salem.

Justin Mattera.
Justin Mattera.
You may know that he owns Longboards Cafe & Bar in Salem, but did you know he spent some time in San Diego? We spent three minutes behind the counter with Justin Mattera.

Patch: How did you get your first start in business?

Justin: My first real business venture was when my brother Matthew and I purchased The Hungry Whale. The Hungry Whale really taught us a lot about business and got us ready for what would eventually renovate to be called Longboards Cafe & Bar.

PHow did your parents influence you as a business owner?

J: My parents are some of the best people I know. Not only are they each successful in their own businesses, but they have always supported myself and brothers to pursue our dreams. She and my father have a wealth of knowledge and I am lucky to be able to have access to it.

PHow long have you lived here?

J: I grew up in Swampscott and made a run to the west coast to enjoy "the good life" back in 2002. After spending a few years on the beaches of San Diego, I realized that home was where the family was and decided to come back to Massachusetts. That was 8 years ago.

PWhat's your favorite thing about living here?

J: Being a dog lover, it's amazing how welcoming all the businesses and residents are with animals. Living in Salem, it allows me to walk almost anywhere...and bring along the two furry guys I like to call Skye & Aaron. I hear Salem is quite the dining destination as well...just saying.

PWhat's a business mistake you've made that later you were glad you did?

J: I think we may have over paid when we bought The Hungry Whale business, however without buying that business and at that location, we would never have been able to renovate and expand to the restaurant we have now...Longboards Cafe & Bar.

P: Tell us something about yourself that most of your neighbors don't know.

J: If I could cook for people every night, I would. Nothing brings me more joy than having people over to my home and cooking up some great things. Food is one of the best ways to get people together and unwind.

P: What's the best business advice you've ever received?

J: My parents and my partner/brother have all said the same thing...always look at the numbers.  My brother Matthew has done a fabulous job in crunching numbers. Without sticking to the numbers, a restaurant would not stand a chance.

P: What advice would you give to a small business owner just starting out?

J: I would say that expect to work many, many hours, expect for everyone to give you their opinion on how to run your business and always expect for things to cost double. Other than that, if your lucky enough to follow your dreams, be thankful, because you are one of the lucky ones.

P: What do you look for when you hire?

J: It's all about the attitude! Things can be taught and learned. Havering a great attitude and great customer service is what will make or break you in this business. It's called a service industry for a reason.


Nominate a Salem business owner for our next Across the Counter interview. Send suggestions to owen.boss@patch.com.


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