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W.Va. couple's barbecue wins over TV judges

August 26, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Sara and Mitchell Matzek of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., won "24 Hour Restaurant Battle," a show in which dueling teams of aspiring restaurateurs are challenged to launch the restaurant of their dreams in a day. Their prize was $10,000.
Submitted photo,

A local couple trying to rebuild their barbecue business won $10,000 in a reality show competition that aired Wednesday on the Food Network.

Sara and Mitchell Matzek of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., won "24 Hour Restaurant Battle," a show in which dueling teams of aspiring restaurateurs are challenged to launch the restaurant of their dreams in a day. The winning team receives $10,000 at the end of the show.

The Matzeks' Texas barbecue roadside stand in Martinsburg, W.Va., was destroyed last summer when it was struck by a car. They told The Herald-Mail in interviews before the show aired that they went into the competition hoping for a win so they could invest the cash prize into rebuilding their business, which they're calling The Q Company.

In the episode, the Matzeks are shown sleeping in the dining room of the restaurant for easy access to the meat smoker, which Mitchell Matzek checked hourly over the course of the night.

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"Because barbecue never sleeps," he said during the episode.

Mitchell Matzek, 44, works in construction and takes his motorcycle on long-distance rides for charity. Sara, 38, is a network engineer.

In the end, the Matzeks' meaty menu of beef brisket, pulled pork -- a risk because they had to use pork shoulder instead of pork butt -- and ribs was a hit with the judges.

The Matzeks' no-frills barbecue joint beat the Latin-fusion theme presented by Washington, D.C., couple Chris Alvear and Francisco Pliego, who lost points with judges for serving a dessert of boxed brownies and store-bought ice cream.

The Matzeks' win marks the second time local contestants have appeared and won on "24 Hour Restaurant Battle." Former Hagerstown resident Justin Warner was featured on an Aug. 11 episode dubbed the "Battle of the Couples."

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