After getting a taste of the entrepreneurial life in West Virginia, Andrew went on to Chicago and later Saint Louis with his West Virginian business partners to run popular night clubs and further advance his knowledge in hospitality/service industry. The partnerships he created through that venture are what ultimately led him to Washington D.C. where, in 2002, he co-founded Matchbox Food Group and helped grow the company into what it is today – a 17 unit operation with approximately $60 million in annual sales.
One year after opening, Matchbox restaurant won the prestigious award of 2003 Best New Restaurant through Washingtonian. Andrew and his business partners went on to open multiple locations throughout the D.C. Metro area and one restaurant in Palm Springs, California. In 2010 they became a multi-concept group by opening Ted’s Bulletin, an upscale diner serving breakfast all-day as well as lunch and dinner, as well as DC-3, a gourmet hot dog fast casual concept with a chef-driven menu collaborated on by Matchbox Food Group’s executive chefs at the time. Ted’s Bulletin won Best Neighborhood Gathering Spot in 2011 and is known to draw visiting celebrities as well as former President Barack Obama.
In 2015 Matchbox Food Group won Ernst and Young Regional Entrepreneur of the Year award for their successful restaurant concepts, growth, and culinary and employment contributions to the greater Washington area. Today Matchbox restaurants are located in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Texas and Florida.
Andrew’s strength is in his creative lens where he has led all aspects of design and branding for all his restaurant concepts. He is also an architect of culture, having led in the development of training guides and team building, and leading management hiring and mentoring, he is a master at relationship building – which helped Matchbox Food group raise millions of dollars for their expansion.
No stranger to the restaurant business, Lee’s mother, Yesoon Lee, also chef at Mandu, owned a sandwich shop in Old Town Alexandria, VA in the 1980s, and in the late ‘90s, a Charlie Chiang Kwai takeaway store at Reagan National Airport. It was at Charlie Chiang Kwai that Lee learned the basics of running a food establishment. He cemented his restaurant knowledge at Oceanaire, where he worked under Chef Rob Klink who trained him both on the managerial and the culinary side of the food business.
In 2006, Lee and his mother decided to open their own restaurant, one that played to their strengths and represented their culinary traditions and culture. They opened Mandu’s first location near Dupont Circle in November 2006 and five years later, the second one in DC’s Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood.
Since opening Mandu, Lee has cooked across the country as well as internationally. In 2015, Lee represented Washington, DC, at a national culinary competition promoting the use of heritage breed pork and responsible farming. In the Fall of 2016, Lee traveled to London for two weeks to showcase a Korean tasting menu as the resident chef of Carousel Restaurant. Lee was also featured in the Washington Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 List in 2016 as a leading local business leader.
Mandu has won “Best Korean” in the Washington City Paper annually since 2010 in addition to being featured in several local and national publications. Mandu was also recognized as a recommended restaurant in the Michelin Guide’s premier Washington, DC issue in 2016. In 2017, Mandu was nominated for Best Casual Restaurant for the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s annual RAMMY Awards.
Mandu and Lee have been featured in several national and local publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Men’s Health, Lucky Peach, Washington Post, Washingtonian, and many more.
Drewno joined the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group in 1998. At Chinois, he learned to meld French cooking techniques with vibrant Asian flavors. At Spago, he came to understand the importance of beginning with only the finest ingredients. Drewno furthered his knowledge and solidified his passion for Asian cuisines at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Vong and at Stephen Hansen’s Ruby Foo’s.
In 2007, Wolfgang Puck tapped Drewno as the opening Executive Chef of The Source. The restaurant has been honored with numerous accolades including three-star reviews from both The Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) awarded The Source “New Restaurant of the Year” in 2008 and “Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year” in 2011. Drewno received the coveted “Chef of the Year” prize in 2010 and again in 2016. In 2012 and in 2013, Drewno was a semi–finalist for the “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” James Beard Award.
Drewno has won many culinary competitions benefiting important causes, including the DC Crab Cake Competition, Pig Out for Diabetes, and DC Central Kitchen’s Capital Food Fight. He won the Washington, DC leg of Cochon 555 (twice), a traveling culinary competition promoting sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs, and won the Cochon 555 Heritage Fire barbecue competition. Drewno serves on the Board of the RAMW, and is an Honorary Board Member of the DC Food & Beverage Collective. Each year, Drewno hosts fundraising events for DCFBC and the George Washington University Hospital Mobile Mammography Unit, two causes he holds near and dear to his heart.