Celebrating Matt Hoyt

| October 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

By contributing writers Melissa Bell and Susan McNeil Schreyer

Matt Hoyt, co-founder, co-owner and general manager of Mission Hills restaurant and bar Starlite, died Saturday, August 14, 2021. He was a beloved husband, brother, son, uncle, nephew, cousin to dozens, friend to too many to name, restaurateur, filmmaker, artist, musician, comedian, raconteur, and all-around merry-maker.  He will be remembered with love and tears and laughter.

In 2007, Matt and two partners decided to create a special space in San Diego for friends and future friends to gather. They chose 3175 India Street and Matt called it Starlite. Despite the 2008 recession, Starlite quickly became a favorite restaurant destination. Fourteen years later, it still regularly tops the lists of recommended restaurants, and is credited with paving a path for the emergence of San Diego’s craft cocktail and farm-to-table food scene. 

Matt Hoyt is shown with his caricature drawing.

When Covid wreaked havoc on the restaurant industry, Matt threw his whole weight against the challenge of keeping Starlite open for its dedicated customers, and still managed to find time to help other San Diego restaurants and businesses navigate the ever-complicated documentation system for loans and relief.

Born to Sue and Ken Hoyt on October 13, 1975, Matt is mourned, adored, and remembered by his parents, his best friend and wife, Allison Bell Hoyt, his brothers Mark and Tim, their wives Sophy and Carlyn, his nephew and nieces Ethan Hoyt, Sadie Hoyt, Kinsley Hoyt, and Nola Winterbell, his in-laws Bob, Nancy, Andrew, and Melissa Bell, his large, loving extended family, and his many cherished friends.

Dubbed “Hurricane Hoyt,” Matt lived multiple lifetimes. In addition to co-founding the beloved Starlite, Matt created performance art, improv acts, short films, and music videos; helped friends acquire and build out businesses; popped up in television shows, video games, and on radio ads with his booming, joyful voice; and played an informal, and deeply vital role of connecting the artistic and creative communities of Southern California. 

Matt got his start in the music scene two decades ago, fronting the band Turkey Mallet and working as a promoter and booker for El Cajon’s The Soul Kitchen, while still at Valhalla High School.

He would go on to become a consummate people connector, befriending musicians, artists, filmmakers, restaurateurs, gallery owners, and comedians. His boundless fervor for others’ creativity was infectious.

He also pursued his own wild artistic endeavors, such as developing “Talk Talk Show,” an all green green-screen absurdist television show and the episodic comedy “Antarctic…huh?” filmed in his backyard.

He loved nothing more than boisterous parties full of the people he loved, and he loved many people, but none so well as his wife, Allison. It was at one of those San Diego parties that he met Allison in 2005. They had their first date on December 11 of that year, and were rarely apart after that. The couple married in Palm Springs in 2010.

The two fed off each other’s energy – making each other laugh, pushing each other, and, most of all, supporting each other.

In lieu of flowers, buy a round at Starlite, support a local store owner, celebrate an artist you love, hug your people, laugh hard and long, and never forget how sweet and precious and short this life is – just as Matt would have wanted.

To honor Matt, and to celebrate him, a retrospective of his work and his life will take place at 2 p.m., Sunday, October 10 at Bread & Salt, located at 1955 Julian Street, San Diego 92113. You are invited to attend. 

Additionally, the Mayor and City Council will be proclaiming October 13, 2021 as The Matt Hoyt Day in the City of San Diego.


Category: Business, Local News

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General articles by the Presidio Sentinel and Associated Partners.