Petaluman's Journey from Hot Dog Stand to Wealth Management


FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER | February 7, 2017

Petaluma-born-and-raised Matthew Larrabure has worked his way into a fascinating career, dispensing financial advice through his association with The FPI Group with Merrill Lynch. Way before that however, young Larrabure explored several occupations, and remembers starting up a hotdog cart business in downtown Petaluma 10 years ago with three college friends.

“We liked hanging out, but said to each other, ‘hey, there’s nothing to eat downtown at night,’ because all the restaurants then would close by eight or nine,” he said. “We did all the research, got our permits and our health department clearance and ran that business for a couple years. It was fun.”

Subsequent endeavors include running a house-painting business with his brother and working for a local real estate developer.

Larrabure started as an assistant at Merrill Lynch 10 years ago now and moved up with the team he was working for. He credits his partners for inspiring him to continue with wealth management.

“They taught me to be genuine and real to clients, and to take care of them. If you take care of your clients and do the right thing every time, they will be with you for a long time,” he said.

Looking for interesting things to do around town, Larrabure and his wife Kate joined the Petaluma Active 20-30 Club in 2012. Larrabure served as its treasurer for three years, then vice-president and now president of the club. Petaluma Active 20-30 is a community service organization that focuses on raising money for local children along with actively working directly with them.

“Our main ‘give back’ is our annual children’s shopping spree where we take kids back-to-school shopping,” he said. “They get over $160 worth of new clothes that they like and want, and that fit along with school supplies, shoes, haircuts and more.”

This past year, the club was able to sponsor 50 kids, the most the club has ever done.

“We, the members, actively support and work on different kid-based activities, doing all the work ourselves. The money we raise stays here locally in our direct community and 100 percent of donations go toward supporting kids,” Larrabure said.

Larrabure has been part of the Petaluma Toastmasters club for many years and supports his childhood church, First Presbyterian Church of Petaluma. Also a member of the Novato Chamber of Commerce, and involved with a small business — a local business-networking group he put together with a friend, Larrabure said he’s got a good, but slightly sarcastic sense of humor and a positive attitude.

“I try to treat people with happiness every day. My philosophy is to be nice to people, be happy and positive,” he said. “You never know what people have going on in their life. Being happy, friendly and helpful goes a long way.”

Petaluma Ribs for Kids is Fun for All

By Houston Porter, Argus Courier

June 7, 2016

In only its second year, Ribs for Kids welcomes back an expanded field of competitors, an exciting new panel of judges and a kid-friendly location, which is apropos for an event that raises money for local youth focused charities.

The June 18 event is presented by the Petaluma Active 20-30 Club, a group of men and women between the ages of 20 and 39 that strives to foster personal growth, friendship, networking skills and leadership development through pursuits that have a positive impact in the community, mainly through work to help improve the quality of life for less advantaged children.

Active 20-30 International’s motto is, “One never stands so tall as when kneeling to help a child.” The Petaluma Active 20-30 Club’s fundraising efforts go toward its yearly Children’s Shopping Spree, where disadvantaged youth are given a free shopping spree at Kohl’s of Petaluma.

Looking to do something a bit different than the normal golf tournament, crab feed or gala evening, Active 20-30 realized in 2014 that Petaluma had no barbecue competitions. But unlike professional barbecue competitions with strict rules about cooking and judging, Ribs for Kids is more about camaraderie and fundraising for local kids.

“Yes, we have rules and actually a judging system, but the thing we love about this event is that the competitors are regular people,” said Matthew J. Larrabure, the event organizer. “There are other barbecue events for professionals, who drive in from out of state, but our event is for locals who enjoy grilling and barbecuing and want to compete in a fun atmosphere and, in the end, help support the children of our community, because that is what it is all about.”

The club learned a lot from the inaugural Ribs for Kids event, primarily that they needed more space.

“Mario & John’s was a great location for our first year, but space was limited,” Larrabure said. “We were looking to expand and were lucky to partner with the First Presbyterian Church (at 939 B St.), who are letting us use their entire grounds.”

The new location will not only have space for live entertainment and games, but will also allow patrons to bring their kids, which was not a possibility at last year’s bar location. This year’s event will also offer sides, such as fruit, coleslaw and corn-on-the-cob.

Event sponsors include Fishman Supply, Petaluma Hills Brewing Company, Mario & John’s, Vine & Barrel, Graffiti, City Sports Club and Korbel California Champagne.

Differentiating themselves from nationally-sanctioned barbecue events, where competitors spend vast amounts of time and money preparing for competition, the entry fee for Ribs for Kids includes the cost of ribs, which are supplied to event organizers at a deep discount by Raley’s.

Each team sets up their equipment first thing in the morning, and once they receive their eight racks of baby back ribs, the magic begins.

“Some people go basic, some with a spice rub, some with traditional barbecue sauce, and some even experiment with a fruity flare,” Larrabure said. “There is no ideal or perfect sauce. The key is to cook the ribs properly.”

Although the entry deadline has passed, organizers have extended a special deadline for Argus-Courier readers to June 11. For anyone interested in trying a rib competition, whether you have your own secret recipe or not, this is a great way to put your toe in the proverbial barbecue sauce, all while helping disadvantaged kids.

After years of slim pickings in the barbecue department, Petaluma seems to finally have come into its own with the opening of several fall-off-the-bone ribs, tender beef brisket and finger-licking good pulled pork restaurants. However, for an even wider array of barbecue flavors in one place, Ribs for Kids is a great event where the public can reap the sweet and savory benefits of an amateur barbecue competition, all while helping to raise money for a great cause.

The June 18 event is from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 939 B St. Pre-sale tickets are $30, or $35 at the door. Ages 13 through 20 are $20, or $25 at the door. Kids ages 12 and younger are free.

2nd Annual Ribs for Kids

It's barbecue season in Petaluma!

Houston Porter, Petaluma Argus Courier

May 11, 2016

Ribs for Kids is coming up on Saturday June 18. Presented by the Petaluma Active 20-30 Club, this event raises money to help disadvantaged youth.

I look forward to judging the event, as I did last year, when teams offered up quite a tasty selection of ribs. This year’s venue is the First Presbyterian Church, which offers space for fun and games, and allows families to bring to their kids.



Fresh Start For Local Kids

Post by Sonoma Life Magazine

One shoe at a time...

At 5 a.m. 11 more Than 100 young adults will gather outside Kohl’s in Petaluma eagerly waiting to get inside the store.You might think they’re gearing up for a super sale, but you’d be wrong: Active 20-30’s Children’s Shopping Spree is about to begin.

Three Chapters of the Active 20–30 Club (with members between 20 and 39 years old) will join the effort with other chapters around the region, state and country to help children in need buy clothes for the upcoming school year.But more than that, volunteers connect with students in a way that they hope will make a lasting difference.