7 Questions With … Sarah Balliet of Pizza LUPO and Murder by Death

Sarah Balliet is a member of Murder by Death. | Courtesy of Murder by Death

“Restaurateur by day, rock star by night” could be the tagline on Sarah Balliet’s business cards, but we have a feeling she prefers more of a chat over a drink than a stuffy networking session.

Balliet has been busier than usual since August of 2017, when she opened Pizza LUPO with her husband, Adam Turla, and brother Max Balliet. She and Turla also perform in the band Murder by Death, which formed long before the pizza shop was even an idea. The couple met while in college at Indiana University, and Balliet joined Turla’s band as a cellist.

Eight albums, thousands of shows and one move to Louisville later, the band is still going strong and plans to release a new album, “The Other Shore,” in August. Murder by Death will be trying out some of the new material this weekend, July 20-21, as they headline the 17th annual Lebowski Fest.

Sarah Balliet | Courtesy of Murder by Death

And as a nod to Lebowski, Pizza LUPO will be offering $6 White Russians all day and night long on Friday and Saturday as well.

Balliet tells Insider that while she’s a big fan of “The Big Lebowski” and its signature drink, the White Russian, she prefers a Kentucky version her co-worker came up with.

“Our bar manager makes a cocktail called Three Mothers that I like even more,” she says. “It’s a bourbon cocktail with Italian amaro and cream. It’s like a grown-up Kentucky Russian?”

Balliet admits it’s tough to run a restaurant and perform in a rock band at the same time, but she credits her team with helping her and Turla manage both.

“I am very grateful to my brother Max and our really great management staff at LUPO. I am able to focus on my music and be a support system for them when I am able,” she says. “This year I’ve learned to let go a little, and to lean on other people.”

After the Lebowski Fest, Balliet will be touring with Murder by Death to promote the new album, which she calls a concept record.

“It’s a story about two people escaping a ruined Earth — one chasing the other through space,” she explains. “In some ways, it’s a continuation of a story we’ve told on other albums, and in some ways, it’s a whole new sound for us.”

Pizza LUPO is located at 1540 Frankfort Ave. | Courtesy of Pizza LUPO

Check out Murder by Death on the Lebowski stage on Friday, July 20, at the Executive Strike & Spare Lawn, 911 Phillips Lane. They’ll perform with Howell Dandy, and there will also be a live tribute to the film’s soundtrack featuring members of The Deloreans and special guest Jim Hoosier. A screening of “The Big Lebowski” follows the music, and it all starts around 6 p.m.

Before Balliet prepares to take the stage or sling another pizza, we asked her some very important questions …

What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?

Flower sniffin’ …

I don’t know about surprising, but I’d love to play with an orchestra again.

What poster was on your wall in junior high?

So many, but lots of Nirvana posters.

If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?

Carrie Neumayer — her art, music, activism and dedication to Girls Rock Louisville has brought so much to the city, and she’s a personal inspiration to me.

What are your preferred pizza toppings?

Pizza LUPO’s Margherita pie | Courtesy of Pizza LUPO

Can’t beat the classic Margherita.

If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?

50 — I’d like to see if I’m on the right path.

What famous person do people say you resemble the most?


Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?

Elevator maintenance, or a stack of books.