Valarie Gross said that before she and Mike Gross got married in 2010, they knew they wanted to open a business together.

“We knew we wanted to work together forever,” Valarie said.

In October 2020, the entrepreneurial couple bought Coffee Tree Cafe in Argyle, and six months later they changed the business name to Uncle Mike’s Bistro.

What’s in a name

Mike said when they bought the business, they immediately added menu items that were more bistro in nature, such as paninis and wraps. However, longtime customers and those returning for the first time under the new ownership were requesting a variety of coffees and cupcakes, which were top sellers under previous ownership.

The couple asked their nieces to help rename the business with a name that reflected their menu.

“They literally put names in a hat, and Uncle Mike’s came out of the hat,” Valarie said.

Meet the owners

Valarie said she comes from a family of restaurant owners and has been working in restaurants or retail since she was young. Mike took a job as a dishwasher in Boston, which led to industry connections resulting in on-the-job training from one manager in particular.

“She said ... be my kitchen manager, and I'll teach you everything you need to know," he said. "She taught me how to be a manager, how to cook, run a kitchen and better myself as a person.”

The husband-and-wife duo have divided responsibilities based on their strengths. Mike runs the back of the house, while Valarie maintains the front of the house.

“She’s the face [of the business], and that's the way I wanted it,” Mike said. “I told her, ‘I’m not the face, I'm the food.’”

Popular menu items

Mike comes up with the recipes and makes most items from scratch, including the dressing used on the honey mustard chicken croissant, which is one of their top selling sandwiches.

“I have one guy who came in, tried it, loved it," he said. "He came in the next day and had it, then came in that weekend and brought all his friends in. They all had it, and now they all come in once a week and have the honey mustard chicken sandwich.”

Other top sellers are the BLTA and pancakes.

“We sell everything every day,” Mike said. “Nobody believes me, but from this menu, I sell at least one of everything that is on here.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to notate the correct last names of Valarie Gross and Mike Gross.