80 Toombs County Magazine
benefit to him.
As a consequence of
some bad choices,
Matthew ended up
serving time, and the
cost of his mistakes
came in more ways than
time served. “When you get out of jail, you’ve not only got
to pay what you owe, you might have lawyer fees, money
owed to the bondsman, probation fees, and a whole lot of
other stuff you get billed for,” said Matthew. There’s a lot of
debate surrounding issues to do with our prison system, but
regardless of a person’s beliefs or opinions on the matter,
added fees and penalties often make the path of change
In order to break the cycle of addictions, he was
required to attend meetings for everything from drug
abuse and alcohol addiction to anger management. But
he saw the steps that should have led him upward as only
another obligatory expense in his already strained financial
situation. “The only thing that will change you is to see
something as more important to you than what you’re
doing,” said Matthew. “I was under the impression that I was
only hurting myself. But that wasn’t true. When you look
back over your life, you see that you hurt your children,
your wife or husband, your sisters, your brothers. You hurt
the people you say you love.”
It was a realization that changed everything. “I can
never get that time back I wasted away from my family,”
said Matthew. He was right. He could not go back. But he
could move forward. And in moving forward, even time can
In 1998, Matthew asked God to bless him with income
that would allow him to be a blessing to others. That was the
same year that he and his oldest son Andre took a borrowed
table from his church and one grill and sold their first Philly
hoagies and sandwiches for a Cancer Relay for Life event.
He donated the profits to the event.
Two years later, Matthew and his son opened A Taste
of Phillie in downtown Vidalia. Tragically, Andre suffered
a massive heart attack not long after that. He was only
thirty-eight-years-old at the time. Following the tragic loss
of his son, Matthew's wife Mary and the rest of the children
stepped in to help with Matthew’s new business.
“My wife Mary stood by me when all we had was two
white Styrofoam coolers for a refrigerator. For two years, we
had five kids to raise and no refrigerator.”
In spite of the challenges, Matthew met each one head
on. And as he worked, he taught his children to work. He
was determined to spend the time of his redemption well.
His children would know how to swim upstream against
the tide of a generation’s entitlement issues and electronic
excuse for connection.
“Many of these kids don’t even read,” said Matthew.
“They don’t know what’s going on. Reading and math skills
are important. You’ve got to be able to count, and you’ve
ABOVE Matthew named the
"Miss Pie" sandwich after his wife
Mary, who he says is his "chicken
and my steak. She’s all three of
my cheeses. She’s my lettuce and
tomato. She’s my everything."