Matt Toomey and Grizzle Dorff, a member of his cast of characters at Toomey’s. Toomey will not be returning to the Mo Mart, but the fun continues at his new spot in the Village. (Photo: Kirkner)
After a 16-year stint as head chef at the Whoa Nellie Deli inside the Mobil Mart at the entrance of Yosemite, Matt Toomey will not return this spring.
It’s been a question floating around town ever since he opened his new catering and carry-out restaurant, Toomey’s, right after Christmas, and now it’s official.
“It’s true that Matt will not be back at the Whoa Nellie Deli,” confirmed Denise Molnar, manager and daughter of Mo Mart owner Dennis Domaille. “We’re going to keep the food and the kitchen staff the same, at least for this coming summer. Ernesto Romero, who has been with us for awhile, will take over as head chef.”
“I am going to miss the people and the ambiance, it’s been my home, but I plan to re-create it here,” Toomey said.
And by here, he means his new location in the old Ski Surgeon spot in the Village, which he has transformed into his own little dream.
“80/50 saw an opportunity and wanted to attach my name to it,” Toomey explained of his new location, which connects to the private residence club now managed by Auberge Resorts.
Toomey stated that his new landlord has been extremely accommodating. So far, the only time he’s really differed in opinion was when they were discussing the design of the new place.
“They wanted it to fit in with the ski town vibe,” Toomey said, but he was dead set on having the interior look and feel like a ballpark.
“Once they agreed to the design, the deal was sealed,” Toomey explained.
And so the restaurant is engulfed in baseball paraphernalia and décor. Toomey’s collectibles line the walls (his wife, Athina is happy to have a spot for all of it other than the closets in their home), there are references to Fenway Park and old baseball games play on one of the televisions.
“Being at a ballpark is my favorite,” Toomey said. “Fenway is my favorite field and the Kansas City Royals are my favorite team,” which explains the cap he wears most of the time.
But what stands out the most about Toomey’s is, of course, the food. Whoa Nellie Deli favorites such as the fish tacos and the lobster taquitos are available, plus some new items are gracing the menu.
For starters, there’s an entire breakfast section, and the Coconut Mascarpone Pancakes will knock your socks off (but take note, they are huge!).
Also available are large, to-go platters for big groups.
“It’s basically the Mobil favorites because that’s all I know how to make,” Toomey said jokingly.
Toomey’s started as just catering and carry-out, with a phone in option where customers can call in their order and then pull up and have their food brought directly to their car. In the two months that it’s been open, however, Toomey’s has also added some dine-in seating, leaving some to wonder how that will jive with the Village’s already limited parking.
“We recently got parking permitted out front [along Minaret],” Toomey said. “The signs should be going up soon.”
So it seems things are rolling along for Toomey and his family. “Everyone has been really helpful and welcoming,” he said.
When it comes down to it, Toomey explained that two of the main reasons for making the move were wanting his kids to go to school in Mammoth and wanting a year-round job opportunity.
While customers who would often stop in just to see him behind the counter will most definitely miss him at the Whoa Nellie Deli, he hopes to create something in Mammoth that will be just as fun.
“The exciting part is not knowing,” Toomey said. “But I needed to focus on one spot and a long-term plan and make it great.”
Both Molnar and Toomey said they don’t feel that they will be competing against one another even though they will be serving many of the same menu items.
“People will still come to the Mobil,” Molnar said. “Hopefully both [restaurants] will be successful.”
“You can’t compete. They’re Yosemite and we’re Mammoth,” Toomey said.
“Besides, by the time you drive from here to there, you’re hungry again,” Athina added.
Look for the entertaining banter that Toomey is known for at the new location. Some highlights include never knowing if you’ll be served by a human or a bear, and the upcoming performance of Michael McDonald.