Matt Haley, Restaurant icon, Philanthropist from Rehoboth Dies in Motorcycle Crash in India

Tragedy hits the Mid Atlantic restaurant scene, as Rehoboth, Delaware restaurateur, philanthropist and just month's ago awarded the James Beard Award for Humanitarian of the Year Award 2014, Matt Haley has died from injuries suffered in a motocycle accident while touring Northern India.


In the Summer of 2012, Baltimore lost one of it's restaurant angels, Scunny McCluster of Nacho Mama's, the original orange crush in Baltimore and Mama's on the Half Shell fame. Scunny, died suddenly in an bike accident when he collided with a bus while crossing Coastal Highway in Ocean City, Maryland.


A man, who I recently met and could call my friend, who wore big Jackie O-like glasses this Summer, Haley had an infectious zest for life, travel and helping others. Self-professed, "Hungry for adventure" Haley was  traveling through Northern India with the goal of to delivering stoves to a Nepali village while his bike struck a truck, August 15. The photo to the left is a selfie he took just one days prior. He loved social media and taking selfies.


Business partner Scott Kammerer released this statement:

“At approximately 11:25 pm EST Sussex County humanitarian, renowned restaurateur, and James Beard Award winner Matt Haley passed away. He was in a medijet transport from Leh, India to New Delhi, India.


On Monday at approximately 4:05 am EST he had been involved in a high-altitude, high-impact motorcycle accident while on a 6 week humanitarian expedition through northern India and Nepal. Since 2011 Haley had traveled extensively and devoted significant time and financial resources to ongoing humanitarian efforts in the area. He was traveling with international film-maker and motorcycle expert Guarav Jani.”


"The entire team at the Matt Haley Companies is incredibly saddened by this huge loss. We will release more information as it becomes available.", said Scott Kammerer, president and COO of The Matt Haley Companies.


Matt was a recent friend in the business. We exchanged multiple emails and facebook, twitter and Instagram messages and posts, as it pertained to his devoted, talented team at his eight restaurants Founded by Chef Matt Haley, SoDel Concepts restaurant group was named one of the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine in 2009. The group is comprised of Fish On! restaurant in Lewes, Lupo di Mare in Rehoboth Beach, Bluecoast and Matt’s Fish Camp in North Bethany Beach, NorthEast Seafood Kitchen in Ocean View, Catch 54 and Papa Grandes in Fenwick Island and Rehoboth Beach, and their catering company: Plate Catering and in all he owned and managed over 25 businesses.


 Director of Operations, Matt Haley Companies, Michael Dickinson tells CITYPEEK Patti: "On one hand my heart is heavy because my friend and mentor is gone. On the other hand my heart is so full of love and inspiration because of the time & experiences I was lucky enough to share with him. I will miss him every day and will continue to work every day to make him proud & honor his legacy."


Matt believed " This organization does not exist in our community, but rather for and because of our community, both local & global.”  Additionally, his vision notes, posted online state:  "We feed our community – MHC currently owns and or operates 25 restaurants, foodservice outlets, and liquor stores in 4 states. In the peak of our busy season, we employ upwards of 1000 people, and serve 25,000 meals a week. We operate the fastest- growing catering company in Delaware, providing service for events as intimate as a 50th anniversary for 2 people, or as expansive as a prom for 500 high schoolers."


A great lost for the joie vivant who loved posting all about "#HaleysLife," his family at home and his entire work family at SoDel Concepts. I just used his corporate Chef Matt Ruley spice rub in my grilled chicken. Life is ephemeral, let's go for it. #HaleysLife lives on!


Patti Neumann is Publisher/Founder of and an award-winning columnist and blogger on food, wine & the good life.