- Posted April 30, 2014 by
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
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From Prison to Award-Winning Restaurant Owner
Matt Haley, CEO of SoDel Concepts in Rehoboth Beach, Del., went from prison, to dishwasher, to award-winning restaurant owner.
Haley came from a troubled childhood and then, in his teen years, he started abusing drugs and alcohol. He was kicked out of every Washington, D.C.-area school he enrolled in. By 30, he was heavily involved in the drug trade and incarcerated on multiple drug-related felonies. After spending several years in prison, Haley, then 35 years old and ready to start over, began his foodservice career as a dishwasher. He entered a vocational program and learned to cook and today owns seven of Rehoboth’s finest restaurants that employ 1,000+ people and generate nearly $50 million in revenue.
To pay it forward, he established the Global Delaware Fund to administer goods and services to at-risk children and those in distressing situations, both locally and nationally. Haley has helped fund three schools and provide scholarships for students in Nepal, in addition to mentoring children and funding the education for youth who have been affected by school funding cuts.
Haley most recently was named the 2014 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year and also was awarded the 2014 Restaurant Neighbor Award from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation for his outstanding chartiable service.