Did you know that there should be a Domino’s pizza where GROW now stands? True story. When Fred and I were first looking at locations for our luncheonette, we had our eyes on a different spot around the corner. The landlord kept putting us off and didn’t return our phone calls. We were getting really frustrated and didn’t think it was going to happen. Then one of our friends said that the corner space on Howe Ave had a sign up and that we should check it out. It was then that we met Ralph Matto.
He showed us around the space which was then a makeshift locksmith storefront. As we walked, we told him our story- that Fred is a really talented chef and that we were going to open a shop dedicated to soup. Now mind you, at the time we had been met with a lot of discouraging feedback about our idea. Our friends and family were trying to talk us out of quitting our jobs with two small children just to follow a dream.
He listened and we said our good-byes. I really liked Ralph. He was straight forward and he reminded me a lot of my dad. Nevertheless, we thought that he would blow us off the same way the others did and that our unrealistic dream would be put on hold yet again.
To our surprise, we actually heard from him a few days later. He told us he saw something in us that excited him. Apparently, Domino’s had come to him and he was ready to sign a lease with them, but we came along and Ralph decided to take a chance with us. It was a phone call that changed our lives.
Over the years, we have grown to love Ralph Matto. He has always treated us like family and has been nothing but gracious and kind. He has come in many times to eat and chat. We found out that in the eighties, he led a downtown revitalization movement and was fully immersed in restoring this city. He’s told me stories of growing up in his mother’s downtown bar and I have met countless people who know, love and respect him. He has a deep love for this city and the people in it.
Ralph was the first person to take a chance on us. He truly believed that we had a shot at making something good and supported us every step of the way, even when it wasn’t the easiest business decision. We owe so much to him and I want him to know just how special he is to Fred, myself, our family and the community of Shelton. Thank you, Ralph. You have given us something which we will always cherish – your blessing.