SHELTON, Conn. -- You’d think with six kids ranging from four to 13, two dogs and three restaurants, Michele Bialek would be busy enough. But nope, she and her husband, Fred, owners of the casual soup and sandwich spot Liquid Lunch, with locations in Shelton and Milford, and Grow, in Shelton, continue to stir up the pot with hearty soups, farm to table meals, and neighborhood-oriented events.
The couple, who met while working at Bertucci’s restaurant in Shelton back in the day -- she in the front, him in the back -- say they love working where they live and being entrenched in the community.
Bialek, who calls herself "a perpetual student of the School of Life, having done extensive traveling, waitressing, and generally experiencing life throughout the Southwest and Europe," said she never thought she'd be back where she grew up. The Shelton native said it was important for her kids to know their grandparents just as she knew hers, which is one reason why she and her Culinary Institute of America-trained husband decided to put down roots in the Valley. "It's just home here," she said.
Their first Liquid Lunch opened in 2004, the second in 2007. Grow, described as "Farm table meets Gram's table," opened Sept 11, 2015, which was Michele's Gram's birthday.
"My husband's best dishes are home-cooked comfort meals," she said. "He's not pretentious, he cooks with the right balance of flavors and we have an executive chef, Alberto, who rounds out our menu with fancier dishes as specials."
New to Grow: The return of "Souper Saturdays," which had started at Liquid Lunch. Here, local music occurs at 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. "Local everything is very important to us," said Bialek. "It means family. And family means community."
She said she and Fred balance being a working couple/owners by having one person work when the other one is off. And on Sunday nights, they eat together as a family. The group is also often together at the big Grow community table on Tuesdays.
"That's what's great about our restaurant," she said. "We can bring our kids here."
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