From the ashes who knew this restaurant would GROW?

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Co-owner Michele Bialek stands out front of GROW restaurant on Howe Avenue, which opened in September of this year. – Aaron Berkowitz photo

A fire on Jan. 6, of last year destroyed nearly an entire block of Howe Avenue leaving a gaping hole in the ground, displacing 27 families and six businesses including Bob Boroski School of Art, Howe Convenient, The Petal Pusher, a barber shop, and two restaurants, Joy Lee Chinese and Liquid Lunch.

The first of those businesses to reopen in the location is called GROW and is a “re-imaged” version of Liquid Lunch, owned by Fred & Michele Bialek and Mark Moeller which opened back in September of this year. The full service “Farm-to-Family” restaurant offers locally sourced food and beverages in a bistro-style setting and is open five days a week for lunch and dinner, and Sundays for brunch.

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“We felt it was important to both support and give back to our community,” states Michele Bialek, co-owner. “It is a large part of who we are as a family and a core tenant of how we want to run our business. We both grew up in Shelton, are raising our children here and want to see the community thrive.”

GROW is more than a different version of the former restaurant, according to Michele it is a new concept that helps support other, smaller businesses and local farmers in the area. For example, the pork offerings – sausage, bacon, pork chops – and many of the seasonal vegetables came from Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton. The grass-fed beef and cheeses came from farms in nearby New York and soda is locally made Castle Soda from Ansonia.

Additionally, the homey décor features table bases made by local metalworker and artist, Justin Hawker, of Hawker Metalworks, and are recycled I-beams, and part of a deconstructed bridge. The table tops were made by the owners, Fred and Michele Bialek, and are a combination of reclaimed 100-year-old white ash barn wood and new wood, while the chairs and most of the décor were purchased from a local Habitat for Humanity store in which proceeds help build houses in the local community.

“We have been doing this for a while, starting with Liquid Lunch and we had always thought ‘What do we want to do next?’,” said Bialek. “We decided we wanted to get as local and as homegrown as we could possibly get,”

Michele said it has been  a long road back to reopening on Howe avenue and the owners had to venture off into the fundraising world in order to help revive the business.

“The support and positive feedback we receive daily means the world to us. We asked of our community who had already wanted to know how they could help and a surprising number of people visited our Gofundme account to make donations. We appreciate every last one,” said Bialek. “We knew we were faced with three choices. We could have reopened Liquid Lunch, we could have walked away and cut our losses, or we could take another leap and try something new which hasn’t been done in the local area. We decided to give it a shot and fortunately the community has been so receptive.”

The journey to rebuilding and creating a new restaurant proved to be difficult, but Bialek said it was a heartfelt reminder as to why she chose to get involved in the food business to begin with.

“It’s easy to find yourself getting dragged down by the nameless and the faceless who don’t even see your business beyond a number, but we were reminded why we were doing this. You do it for the people who come in, the people who remember you and you remember them. You remember what they eat and they become your family. That’s what we wanted to do, make our way back to Shelton so we can feed our family,” said Bialek. “For me, this has all been worth it. This is Shelton.”

The restaurant is open Tuesday and Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Grow is located at 434 Howe Avenue and online at www.growshelton.com

 

 

 

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