matthews makers

Artisen Gelato: Love by the Spoonful

The first concept of gelato was developed by indigenous people during the Inca civilization in Ecuador. These people used to walk to the Imbabura volcano bringing packs of ice which were carefully placed between grassy vegetation (“paramo straw” or “frailejon”). They would also use rock salt to prevent the ice from melting. After they settled everything, they poured fruit juice, or sometimes milk, into a big, bronze pot (“paila”); the liquid was stirred quickly until frozen and in just a matter of minutes, they got a fresh, handmade gelato.
Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many local businesses are offering their own special touches. At Artisen Gelato (301 West John Street), patrons can choose from the new holiday flavors of Red Velvet, Lemon Crème and Pomegranate - all great additions to the 24 other possible flavors rotated throughout the year.

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Owned by Ramon Riofrio and Marcia Monsalve, Artisen Gelato sorbet is vegan-certified and does not contain trans fats, gluten, nuts and derivatives, soy, eggs, artificial coloring, or artificial flavors. Seven of the rotating flavors are made from 100% natural fruit pulp; the remainder are made from coconut milk. The store is a natural outgrowth of Ramon’s early Ecuadorian childhood upbringing – creating gelato with his grandfather.

This Valentine’s Day, Marcia hopes to see more of what she’s witnessed in past years – “couples sharing gelato.” (Two years ago, a teenager came in with two cups – each decorated with his and hers photos, and asked to fill them for his sweetheart.) “It’s fun to watch people here,” she said, “engaging or falling in love!” Add-in witnessing the “happiness of the kids” with severe allergies who are being treated to something which they love. “We are blessed to be here,” she said,” and blessed to help people.”

An original family run business, the couple has just opened its first franchise in Boca Raton, Florida, and hopes to add another handful of stores in the next year or so.

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Artisen Gelato
301 West John Street

Mon-Sat: Noon – 9 p.m.
Sun: Noon – 8 p.m.

Morning Minute: December 28, 2018

News About Town: Republic Services will not pick up trash on New Year’s Day and pick up will operate on a one-day delay. Yard waste pick up is behind schedule as well.


News Around Town:  If you’re getting to know the Town website, but have a tough time navigating and searching, Protect Matthews has a Google search set up for the site. With options for the type of document, exact search, or keyword search it makes finding documents on a great deal easier.

One Good Thing: The Arts and Science Council is holding a workshop to explain the application for the McColl Award, a $25,000 grant.  This grant is open to Mecklenburg County-based nonprofits and creative individuals and ASC staff will be on hand to answer questions. This workshop is Tuesday, January 8, 2019 from 5:30, until 7 p.m. in the Van Every Auditorium at the Mint Museum on Randolph (2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte).

Brakeman's Coffee: A Sharing Space

(L to R) Mark Moore, David Johnson, & Dave Braysden  Photo by Cyma Shapiro

(L to R) Mark Moore, David Johnson, & Dave Braysden Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Last winter, in an overture of friendship and community, the owners of Brakeman’s (David Johnson, Mark Moore, and Dave Baysden) placed an enormous menorah in the front of the building, loaned by the group at ZABS. “The foundation was friendship and trust,” said David.

“I was into the power(ful) story of Chanukah,” said Mark. “It was an opportunity for the Christian community to understand the power of the story.” They also hosted an opening lighting ceremony with ZABS folks providing narrative to the lighting.

We wanted a space that was life-giving...How do we make sure that this space is embraced by everybody?
— David Johnson
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“We wanted a place that was ecumenical in its approach,” said David, explaining the vision for Brakeman’s. “We wanted a space that was life-giving. We’re not rooted in making money. How do we make sure that this space is embraced by everybody?”

“This is a place where people can share their story, tell their stories – whether it’s religious, personal or otherwise,” he said. “Those are the things we (try to support).”

Matthews Meets the European Food Scene

Two transplants to Matthews are forging their way into the food scene and are bringing a slice of their heritage and roots with them.

Both Marci Dagenhardt’s Marci’s European Sweets and StrudelTeig, a food truck bakery owed by Marvin and Cora Adcock, are using recipes and recipe books provided by their grandparents. They represent the latest wave of ethnic food-vendors who are changing the palette and cultural landscape in and around Matthews. Both have been in business for approximately one year.  

Marci, originally from the Czech Republic, started baking when she was very young – especially Christmas cookies – a time-worn annual family tradition. Originally schooled in hospitality, Marci moved to the US to be a nanny.  After marrying, she turned to baking as a way to remain connected to her homeland. It also brought her enormous comfort.


When Marci’s beloved 93-year-old grandmother sent her 1947 recipe book last Christmas, she took it as a “sign” and began baking in earnest for others. She and her husband recently built their 4800 square foot home in Matthews, complete with a separate kitchen intended for her growing business. Not only does she now bake for a living, but the actual preparation and being in the separate kitchen space provide a way to relieve stress daily.

She fondly speaks of using marzipan as an ingredient, has baked many new European-style goods to find the perfect fit for her business, and constantly searches for new Czech recipes to add to her growing offerings. Recently, her cousin in the Czech Republic sent her a new fudge recipe – it’s all a way to remain connected to her family. Of her grandmother’s feelings?  “She loves it,” Marci said. “She’s so proud.”

And, now, it’s a new way to connect with others.

“I try to bring (food) to people to open their mind,” said Marci, noting that many people stop in to tell her about their grandparents who come from Europe. “I (sometimes) say, ‘Wow, I’m not here by myself!’ “

Moravian gingerbread, Linzer cookies, honey cake, poppy seed cookies, Bohemian and Moravian kolache, rugelach, and marshmallow fondant cake are just a few of her specialties. This is not just about business, she insists, but about “bringing people joy. …and experience something new… Sweet can be sweet, but not sugary-sweet (like in America). I want to help American people know the culture.  I want people to experience that there are (foods) different than what’s here." To get an authentic flavor, she imports some ingredients from the Czech Republic. She also ships her baked goods across the US.

Marvin Adcock brought together his desire to work for himself with the culture and cuisine of his Austrian-born wife, Cora (with a nod to some German and Swiss-cuisine specialties, and incorporating the cuisine of other  European/Eastern European countries). “My passion was to cook for people and use the recipes from her background,” he said. Last year, they purchased a food truck. “There are no European food trucks” around here, said Cora, who has drawn from country-favorites and used some recipes from her grandfather’s restaurant in Austria.

The couple takes pride in their all-natural, locally-sourced ingredients.

Their truck offers a way to be mobile and cater to many different crowds. They use their food truck for “foods that take less time to prepare” which include pretzels, Viennese Apple strudel, and Bavarian pretzel melt (grilled cheese), to name a few. They’ve also started a separate catering business which is quickly growing to include things like Speckknödel, Schweinebraten, Viennese Gulasch, Hungarian Krautstrudel, and Käsespätzle.


They, too, say that international travelers and fellow Austrians/Europeans come up to the truck in search of authentic foods they can’t find elsewhere.

While both companies have a strong online presence (for ordering), in the future, both groups would like to own small European cafés. For Marvin, that would be intended to serve breakfast foods; Marci would like a European coffee shop (adding on her husband’s passion for coffee) with two separate areas – one for people who wish to have quiet and the other side for “moms with kids.” “Every woman from my family goes to the coffee shop on Thursday…we talk….and the kids can play together. They serve small sandwiches, sweet stuff and have peace,” she said with a smile, noting that she is now the mother of a newborn.

For both entities, the opportunity to share their respective cultures here is not lost, nor taken for granted. “It’s not just food,” said Cora, adding that she also posts photos of Austria, on their site, to give a broader overview of the beauty of the country. “I think that the greatest part of America is the ability to live your culture (freely) here,” said Marvin.

Hyperlocal Sneak Peek

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While we’re busy whipping up the food for tomorrow’s feast we’re also doing a little prepping here at the Beacon. We’re unveiling the Hyperlocal Holiday Gift Guide this Friday. In the meantime, here’s a little taste of the small businesses and local talent that would love to have your support this holiday season.

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While you’re planning ahead, don’t forget your Hand Turkey!

Morning Minute: November 21, 2018

News About Town: The Matthews Police and Fire Departments are teaming up for the first annual “Matthews Public Safety Year In Review”.  Because our emergency response departments look at Matthews in three zones, there will be three meetings: North, Middle, and South. Each meeting will be a town-hall style and is a prime opportunity for anyone who is ever in Matthews to learn about public safety in 2018 and what to expect from the departments in 2019. Meeting dates and locations are listed on the Town’s website.

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News Around Town: The Matthews Help Center has launched their 2018 HOPE Fundraising Campaign to continue serving Matthews-area residents in-need with financial assistance and counseling. The HELP Center does not apply for government funding, so their $1.3 million budget relies on sales from Backporch Treasures (the thrift store), grants, and donations. This season The Leon Levine Foundation will match all NEW donor gifts between now and December 31st. To contribute, donate online at or mail a check to PO Box 91 Matthews, NC 28106.

Special Election Update: Following Tuesday's recount, Rachel Hunt has been declared the winner in the NC House District 103 race. In the end, just 68 votes separated Ms. Hunt and Mr. Brawley, making the case for the importance of every single vote.

One Good Thing: If you haven’t seen our call for artists and businesses all over the internet, we’re working hard behind the scenes to bring you a Hyperlocal Holiday Gift Guide. The Good Cup and The Loyalist Market are hosting a Hyperlocal Small Business Saturday Pop-Up event and have offered our Hyperlocal Holiday Guide participants the opportunity to join. Stop by on Saturday, November 24, from noon till 3 PM in the courtyard beside the market and shop small in Matthews.

Side Hustlers and Master Makers: We Want You!

Are you a crafter, baker, candlestick maker?

Small business owner? Manicurist or masseuse?

The sign-up page is here or email Norah about advertising in our Hyperlocal Holiday Gift Guide! Rates start at $15, deadline to sign up is November 20, 2018 and the page will launch November 23.

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Morning Minute: November 14, 2018

News About Town: It’s time once again for Coffee with a Commissioner. Head out in the rain and meet three of our Council Members at 10 AM at Brakeman’s Coffee for a chance to chat. Conversation is led by the attendees at these events, so come ready with all the Matthews questions you’ve been wondering about.

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News Around Town: If you see a particularly hairy looking male police officer around town don’t worry, nobody’s joining ZZ Top. Thirty two Matthews Police officers are participating in No Shave November. Each officer donated $25 to participate and those funds will be donated to Zero Cancer Foundation, a prostate cancer patient advocacy and public awareness group. Check out the Zero Cancer site to learn more and donate.

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One Good Thing: Aside from our obvious obsession with bacon, we at the Beacon also love handmade goods and small businesses. Are you a crafter, baker, candlestick maker? Manicurist or masseuse? Got something that would make a great gift? We have a gift guide for the smallest of businesses at the best of prices: $15! Message us or email Norah about advertising in our Hyperlocal Holiday Gift Guide.

Don't Miss Bee-haven

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

While scouting Little Free Libraries, this roving reporter found one with a particularly stunning backdrop, a mural of sunflowers painted on the homeowner's fence. The mural “Bee Haven,” 1718 Privette Road, was created by Indian Trail artist Tersia Brooks whose Matthews-public artworks can be found on the obelisk at Country Place Park on South Trade Street and a turtle painting on a storm drain in Four Mile Creek Greenway.

According to Tersia, “Bee Haven” represents what someone would see as if there was a hole in the fence, and is a nod to the pollinator passion of its owners and many others in Matthews, NC.

Tersia related that as she took a photo of her artistic creation for her portfolio, a butterfly landed on the biggest sunflower in the piece. “I loved it,” she said. “It made me really, really happy….. If a butterfly landed on it, it must really be a beautiful sunflower.”

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro