LETTER: Feeling lost due to downtown Shelton uncertainty

The building that housed Liquid Lunch and the Joy Lee Restaurant after the early January fire.

The building that housed Liquid Lunch and the Joy Lee Restaurant after the early January fire.

Editor’s note: A shorter version of this letter appeared in the Oct. 29 print edition of the Shelton Herald. It had been shortened to meet the pint edition’s 500-word limit. This is the full letter.

 

To the Editor:

My name is Michele Bialek, one of the owners of Liquid Lunch. We had been a cornerstone business in the heart of downtown Shelton for almost 10 years.

We are weathering the recession that hit this region very hard and Liquid Lunch has remained a staple in the area. We love our city. We love the people in our community.

On the morning of Jan. 6, our world was turned upside down. The fire which leveled the building next to us ravaged our tiny building, and displaced so many people and businesses in its pathway.

Of course, our community rallied and showed the depth and breadth of Shelton pride. I even got a phone call that very morning from the Derby mayor letting me know how sorry she was and that her doors are open if we ever needed anything.

I personally am still amazed at the level of care and support I receive from the people whom we feed.

After sifting through all of the destruction and insurance muck, our tough little building stands. It has survived three major fires over the years. Everything surrounding it is gone and our little brick building — which once housed The Culinary Shop, a bakery I remember from my childhood — has been deemed structurally sound and the Mattos chose to rehab it instead of knocking it down.

At first, I was doubtful, but after seeing the positive transformations, I am very excited.

We are still asked on a daily basis, “What’s going on downtown?” The Matto family and we have been working very closely in efforts to re-open our restaurant.

Fred and I believe that the best bet for us is to fine tune our skills and evolve our concept just enough to spark some new life and interest.

Michele and Fred Bialek, inside the LiquidMichele and Fred Bialek inside the Liquid Lunch establishment at Scinto Corporate Park. They opened the first Liquid Lunch in downtown Shelton 10 years ago.

Michele and Fred Bialek inside the Liquid Lunch establishment at Scinto Corporate Park. They opened the first Liquid Lunch in downtown Shelton 10 years ago.

Imagine my surprise when I opened last week’s Shelton Herald to the headline “A New City Hall Downtown?” While as a tenant I have been in open communications with the Matto family regarding the re-opening of our business, I was dismayed to hear that the mayor found it appropriate to go public with these “plans.”

Frankly, I find it in poor taste to announce an agenda including a property that does not currently belong to the city. The Matto family has been through enough in the past year and does not need any more pressure to answer questions.

I have kept my mouth shut for too long. It is now time for me to get loud. Fred and I are dedicated to the city of Shelton. We are passionate about our restaurant and fully appreciate the opportunities which have been opened to us since we opened our doors.

However, we at no time received a phone call from our mayor or his office showing their community support. There has been no outreach to help us find a new location, nor support for the Joy Lee (Restaurant) family.

We have not been included in any of the discussions until very recently regarding the potential future of the area where our building still stands.

I would have hoped for a meeting with the mayor to discuss at least some ideas. If there is a grand plan in the works for the whole downtown area, where do Liquid Lunch and Joy Lee fit into all of this?

I am in no way expecting a handout. I simply would appreciate being included in the conversations. Liquid Lunch is our life.

Due to insurance limitations, we are reliant on rebuilding in our current footprint. We cannot afford at this stage in the game to simply change course and look elsewhere.

We actually have a timeline and very limited resources. Are we to just stop everything? Should we continue spending money and time trying to ro-open? Are we supposed to surmise all of this from the articles in the paper?

Beyond that, this “little building that stood” is our home. I would be very sad to see it knocked down after all it has been through.

 

Michele Bialek

Shelton

 

Michele Bialek and her husband Fred own Liquid Lunch.

 

 

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