Bob Tripp knows a few details most people probably don’t. Like how former President Ronald Reagan likes his filet mignon. It’s medium well.
Tripp cooked a meal for him back in the day, when he was working at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Most locals here know him as the former executive chef of the Flood Tide Restaurant at the Inn at Mystic. But as of Oct. 1, he has a new venture in Groton. He’s opened “Good to Go”, a shop at 394 Eastern Point Road that sells fresh, gourmet meals you can pick up and put right on your dinner table.
The shop also serves comfort food your mom might make; a perhaps fitting addition because Tripp said his mother taught him to cook.
“I think we have something for everyone,” he said. “Because even people who love to cook and cook on a regular basis sometimes don’t have the time.”
Tripp grew up in Hamden, went to the Culinary Institute of America in New York, then landed a job at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.
About a year later, he was offered a job as night chef at what's now the Hilton Garden Inn on 14th Street in Washington, and he cooked the meal when Reagan, then Vice President George W. Bush and a group of other politicos stopped in for a banquet.
He never met the president, just prepared his steak.
About three years later, Tripp, of Groton, relocated back to Connecticut as he was starting a family. He worked several different chef jobs before beginning his career at Flood Tide in 1989. He left and went back three times for various reasons; the children were little and he wanted more normal hours, he got another job offer. His most recent stint there was from 2009 until this year, just before opening Good to Go.
His grown daughter, 33, named the store. She had a dream that this was the name of the business, so they went with it.
Tripp, who has been in the restaurant business 38 years, works with Dave Moore, of Groton, his partner who has worked in restaurants for 25 years.
“You have to like it,” Moore said.
“It’s a disease,” said Tripp. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
There are no other chefs in his family, but he said he can recall being in the kitchen while his grandfather cooked. Tripp's mother also cooked and he learned watching her. He's spent hours cooking with his mother and still does. She's 82.
“The best teacher in this case is experience and experimentation,” he said. “You say, ‘Let’s try this.’ That’s how some great ideas are born.”