In 2006, when Scott Kaluczky stopped in to , he was just looking for breakfast.
But when he learned that the owner was offering to rent the space, he turned to his longtime friend, Lou Aloupis. Aloupis, who grew up in Stamford and has a background in corporate strategic marketing and real estate investment, saw potential in the property.
Kaluczky saw in this unique historic property, the entrepreneur's dream, an opportunity to pursue something he loved and hopefully build a successful business. The friends became business partners and rented the market for a year. In 2007, they purchased the property, which includes a house and barn.
Although trained as an engineer, cooking had long been a passion for Kaluczky. From baking croissants and buche de noel from "Gourmet" magazine recipes as a kid, to working with the woman who cooked for his fraternity brothers in college, he always enjoyed preparing food and sharing the experience with friends and family.
The history of this commercial country property, suits the vision of its owners. Town records indicate the original structures were built between 1860 and 1885. Aloupis said its believed that it was once a commercial ice house, storing ice harvested from the pond behind what is now the across the street. As the photos on the walls today attest, throughout most of its history, the building has been home to a deli or market in one form of another.
The partners have worked to become members of the Silvermine community, which includes parts of Norwalk and Wilton in addition to New Canaan. Their goal from the start was to become a hub of this small community. For several years Kaluczky served on the board of directors of the
Aloupis said it hasn't always been easy, making a small business like this work. But, they have enjoyed tremendous support from the Silvermine community and he said the growth of their business indicates they are fulfilling a need for their customers and neighbors.
In 2008, they began serving dinner two nights a week. It was always a part of their plan, but with the closing of the it seemed especially timely. While breakfast and lunch are served from the counter, dinner is a bit more formal, with table service. They also offer catering and Aloupis can easily list by name the neighbors they've recently worked with.
"We want our customers to feel the market is an extension of their home," said Kaluczky. To that end, they offer a case filled with prepared foods to go in addition to salads, sandwiches, soups and baked goods.
Also proudly displayed on the walls are reproductions of the comic strip, "Hi and Lois." Stairs outside the market entrance lead to the second floor of the building where Brian Walker works. Walker writes the strip with his brother Greg, which was begun by their father Mort. The market and its owners, including Kaluczky and Aloupis, have been featured in the comic strip, serving "Hi" from behind the counter.
Their business plans include expansion, but not in the form of growing the market's retail business. They have been in talks with commercial kitchens about producing some of Kaluczky's recipes for retail distribution. Plans are to start with his marinara sauce, hopefully early next year.
The house on the property, which they have rented for residential use periodically, is scheduled to be sold to the Arts Center in the new year. Planning and Zoning has approved the transaction. The Arts Center would use the house as an administrative building, enabling them to recapture several buildings on their current property for studio space.
The barn, which stood out back for many years, but was severely damaged by all the recent storms, had to be taken down. Aloupis was delighted when they found a use for the siding in the market. Recent improvements include barn-siding wainscoting throughout the dining area.