Industry Insiders: Matthew Hechter, Smooth Sailing

Matthew Hechter takes hospitality very seriously. Together with partners Mark Barboni, John Barboni, and Chris Brandon, he owns and operates Hudson Clearwater, an upscale new American restaurant in New York’s West Village, and the team is always on hand to make sure everything and everyone is taken care of. “We scraped together everything we had to open this place, so the four of us are here all night trying to meet and thank everyone who comes through the door,” he says. “We try to make the dining experience as personal as possible.”

The Las Cruces, New Mexico native comes to the restaurant business via Hollywood, where he traveled to take an internship with New Line Cinema. When full-time work in the industry didn’t materialize, he supported himself by tending bar. On the way back from a surfing session with his best friend, Brandon, in 2007, they struck upon the idea of opening a restaurant. Four years, two partners, and 2,800 miles later, Hudson Clearwater opened for business on Hudson Street, where it quickly gained a loyal following for its sublime cuisine and impeccable service. Running the restaurant is more than a full-time job for Hechter, but he thrives on the energy.

“I never get tired of people telling us how much they love the space and the food,” he says. “But the most challenging aspect is knowing that I won’t have a vacation for quite some time.”

Still, it’s a labor of love for Hechter and his partners, who strive to provide guests with the kind of cuisine and service they’d hope to get during a night out with friends and family. During his rare days off, he gains perspective by staying active in the great outdoors.

“When I’m not here, which is very seldom, I still enjoy surfing, or playing soccer,” Hechter says. “I think it’s really important to get outdoors and clear your mind.”

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