Dressing Room Ends Its Run

This message was posted today by founder-owner Michel Nischan on the website of The Dressing Room — his very popular (and quite cleverly named) restaurant next to the Westport Country Playhouse. 

After 8 great years and hundreds of thousands of delicious, local and sustainable farm-direct meals, Dressing Room Restaurant has closed. Founded by internationally renowned chef Michel Nischan and the late actor Paul Newman in 2006, the restaurant was Fairfield County’s first farm-to-table restaurant.

Michel Nischan at the Dressing Room, with a portrait of co-founder Paul Newman.

Michel Nischan at the Dressing Room, with a portrait of co-founder Paul Newman.

We thank our customers who shared our passion and genuine interest in supporting regional growers and responsible farming methods. As a result of their loyal support, and the resulting successful 8-year run of the restaurant, there are now nearly a dozen farm-to-table restaurants gracing discerning Fairfield County palates while supporting Connecticut agriculture.

Dressing Room Restaurant received numerous awards and accolades in the local and national food press, including one of Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 95 New Restaurants in the World” (2006) and recognition for “The Best Burger in America” by Steve Raichlen, USA Today (2010). This is a testimony to meals made with the best locally grown, artisanal and organic foods.

The Dressing Room.

The Dressing Room.

Lori and I want to thank our talented staff and their families, whose selfless dedication to our cause made the vision a reality. Nearly every team member was with us from the very beginning, and each nurtured their guests with a sense of genuine hospitality not seen in many restaurants today.

When Paul and I founded the restaurant, we wanted to change in the way people thought about food. We believed that all people should be able to put the same ripe tomato on their family’s table, regardless of their income

Lori and I will always hold Dressing Room Restaurant dear in our hearts. Our talented culinary and service team made it one of the most amazing restaurants ever to grace Connecticut. We operated as a family unit, bonded together by a strong set of core values and love of good food.

Wholesome Wave logoWith a more deeply dedicated focus on Wholesome Wave [the national non-profit founded by Nischan to help underserved urban and rural communities gain more affordable access to healthy, locally grown foods while supporting the small and mid-sized American farmers], I am proud that more people will have access to amazing meals. We encourage you to support farm-to-table restaurants, farmers’ markets, and healthier food choices. After all, it’s all about food. Good, pure, affordable, wholesome, delicious, local food. For everyone!

Reached tonight, Michel told “06880”: “Lori and I have been thinking this over for a while. Wholesome Wave is ready to explode. The Dressing Room was awesome and wonderful, but I reached a point where I need to devote all my time to one thing. Wholesome Wave is what I want to do when I grow up.”

13 responses to “Dressing Room Ends Its Run

  1. Our loss. Loved the Dressing Room and Lori, Michel and the family and will miss sharing the quality of meals that the Dressing Room provided.

  2. Oh no. Jon Vaast is a chef extraordinaire. He’s an artist. I need to know where he goes. Dressing Room closing really is our loss. I wish good luck with the new venture. When that story about food being grown in a “don’t ask don’t tell” method by supposedly wholesome food stores, I decided my family is going organic or farm to table.

    • Michel Nischan

      Hey Mary, This is Michel. Jon is in the process of landing as we’ve been working with him on opportunities. Like us on Facebook: The Dressing Room Restaurant as we’ll be posting and promoting where Jonny lands!

  3. Best of luck to Michel and Lori.

  4. Nancy Powers Conklin

    So sad to hear that the Dressing Room is closing. All the best to the owners as they pursue other dreams. Sure hope all the staff will be able to find jobs. Jon Vaast is a great chef and hope he stays in the area.

  5. A reader who asked for anonymity — because her friends gave her a gift card, and she does not want to seem ungrateful — writes: “It is unfortunate that they closed without notice. I received a $100 gift card for Christmas and can’t be the only one holding a now useless card.”

  6. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    Doesn’t sound like this is anything but a personal decision on the founder’s part to devote his resources in a new direction. Unless he’s got financial hardship that’s being borne in silence I’d agree that a little notice wouldn’t have been a bad idea. I hope I’m not missing anything. $100 is not chump change even in Westport. I doubt Paul would approve.

    • Wouldn’t $100 just cover the cost of an appetizer?

      Yup, no smiley emoticon.

    • Michel Nischan

      Appetizers were $9 to $13. We’ll miss tons of great customers and plenty of smiley emotions.

    • Michel Nischan

      We’ve been reimbursing those who have unredeemed gift certificates. We have been and always will be good with Paul

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  8. I was sorry to learn that The Dressing Room is closed. This is sad.

    I spent many Friday evenings at the restaurant. I listened to Phil Bowler, Lissy, Tony and others perform. It added so much to the atmosphere of the place.

    I also appreciated the way I was treated by Lori and other staff members. They went out of their way to give me professional attention and service.

    I wish Michel and Lori the best and i’ll always remember the many enjoyable nights I had at The Dressing Room.

    • Michel Nischan

      Hey Larry. We will truly miss you. It was a sad decision, but one that needed to be made. Wishing you the very best.