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When Maggie Herrick was 9 years old, her favorite place to eat in Shelbyville was Bistro 535. The restaurant's downtown location, fantastic food, and local flare gave the establishment an indelible charm that made a lasting impression on the young girl.
And now, with a college education and nine years of experience in the restaurant industry behind her, Herrick has returned to the community to run the Bistro.
Herrick, who will run the Bistro with her boyfriend, Matty Beal, said owning the restaurant is a dream come true.
"We had been looking into running our own place for a while, and when this opportunity came up, we knew it was right," she said.
Herrick and Beal met while at college in Pennsylvania. Beal, who has 16 years of experience in the restaurant industry, will serve as the Bistro's executive chief while Herrick will be the front-of-house manager.
After having cooked everything from fast food to fine dining, Beal said he is glad to have a place of his own.
"Running a restaurant is a way of life," he said. "It's not just a job."
Herrick and Beal received underwriting support for the venture from Herrick's grandmother, Ermin, Father, Embry, and aunt Virginia.
They said without their support the dream of owning a restaurant could not have happened.
The establishment's former owners, Bill Hisle and Stuart Meredith, decided to sell the business and property in order to concentrate their efforts on their Cattleman's Roadhouse operations. While Beal and Herrick will run the restaurant, Hisle and Meredith have maintained the catering wing of the business under the name of 535 Catering.
Hisle and Meredith owned the Bistro for 15 years.
Beal said no major changes are planned to the menu or to the look of the restaurant. All of the local specialties are still served. And Herrick said plenty of V8 is on hand for the group of men who come to the restaurant every morning.
Beal said one of his major goals is to freshen up the menu by using locally grown, organic produce.
"Anything that we can purchase locally, we are going to buy that first," he said. "It's not only better for the local producers, but, since it's grown nearby, it's going to be fresher."
Beal and Herrick are also glad to be a part of the local downtown revitalization effort.
Herrick said a vibrant downtown is not only good for business, but it also helps build a strong sense of community.
"We want to make a family out of this," she said. "We want this place to be full of life."