Will Matthews, ’19

Will Matthews, ’19, adds some flavor to Northeast Ohio’s food scene with Southern Comfort Kitchen, his New Orleans-inspired restaurant and food truck.

As the CEO of Southern Comfort Kitchen, Will Matthews, ’19, has found a way to bring a piece of his hometown in Louisiana - and his family history - to Ohio. Will came to Kent State University on an athletic scholarship. He played running back for the Golden Flashes and was a member of the football team that won the 2019 Frisco Bowl, the first-ever bowl victory in Kent State history. Will brought the same commitment to his studies as an entrepreneurship major. He loved Kent State, but he still missed home - especially the Cajun food that had defined his childhood. He began cooking for friends and teammates and soon realized he could transform his culinary interests into a viable business. He and fellow entrepreneurship major Zach Mottershead, ’19, developed a business plan as part of their coursework. They started Southern Comfort Kitchen in 2018 with a food truck on the Kent Campus, and in 2019, they won the second place prize of $8,000 in the CEBIPitch, which aims to help grow and support startups within the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship. That money helped renovate and furnish the food truck, and in 2022, they opened a storefront in the Highland Square neighborhood of Akron, Ohio, to bring their unique combination of Cajun flavor and southern charm to even more folks. Get to know Will in his own words.

KSU: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
WM: Having the time to be able to spend with loved ones and enjoy your own time while being financially stable.

KSU: What is your favorite trait in others?
WM: Love.

KSU: What trait about yourself do you like least?
WM: I feel like I have to do everything on my own sometimes.

KSU: Who has had the greatest influence on your life?
WM: My mother, everything I’ve seen her do and overcome, and she still treats everyone with grace and love.

KSU: What is your favorite Kent State memory?
WM: Winning the first football bowl game in Kent State history! (Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl in 2019)

KSU: What is your favorite journey?
WM: Starting from pen and paper and turning Southern Comfort Kitchen into something tangible.

KSU: What is your guilty pleasure?
WM: Eating a whole box of fruit snacks.

KSU: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
WM: Graduating college and starting my business.

KSU: If you could come back as one person, who would it be and why?
WM: I would come back as me, so I could correct mistakes and allow my younger self to have the knowledge I wish I did at the time.

KSU: What part of your college experience most formed who you are today?
WM: Realizing everyone I became friends with during my freshman year in college would not be with me as I moved forward. Knowing that it’s okay for some things to end and allow space for new things to enter. Also, distancing myself, and focusing on the goal I had before I came to school.



POSTED: Friday, February 16, 2024 02:49 PM
Updated: Friday, February 16, 2024 02:49 PM