Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
Matt Leum has more friends from his school days now than he did back then.
Matt grew up in Glendale, a suburb north of LA. His family's swimming pool was the only one on that block.
His dad owned a chain of supermarkets in the greater Los Angeles area. His parents met at the flagship store of that chain back when it was just a corner market. Matt grew up the youngest of six; his younger brother died at 4.
In Part 1, he shares stories of his mom's bad-assery as we dive into her history quite a bit, including her French and Inuit parents.
After college in Santa Barbara, Matt sent an unsolicited letter to a law firm in San Francisco asking about jobs, and got offered work as a response.
In Part 2, Matt starts off with his involuntary foray into placing temp workers. Turns out, he loved the job.
He moved around from job to job over the next few years, but returned to thank the person who pushed him into this new career.
A trip to Paris led, in a very roundabout way, to Matt starting his own French recruiting firm. With that, he moved to Europe and lived there for the next 11 years, while keeping his place (and job) here in the Bay Area.
Jumping back a bit, Matt describes meeting Sister Roma shortly after he moved up to San Francisco. Then we fast-forward to Matt's return from Paris to Glendale to help care for his ailing father. After his dad passed away and his marriage broke up, Matt moved back to The City.
After trying unsuccessfully to buy an Italian restaurant in the Castro, he and his chef partner went in search of a new place of their own. Matt closed escrow on the spot where Roma's is on March 16, 2020.* He describes how, in light of the quarantine order, he shifted his business approach—he added an Italian market to the restaurant he had already established.
Matt is quick to point out what a communal effort it was to get the place off the ground. Please visit their website for more info, including their "Roma's Drag Deliveries" on Wednesdays.
He ends this podcast looking into the future, both for his business and for San Francisco.
* the date that San Francisco's shelter-in-place order went into effect.
We recorded this podcast at Roma's Ristorante Italiano in South of Market in April 2021.