Category Archives: Local business

SoNo Baking Company Opens Wednesday; Geiger’s Closes

SoNo Baking CompanyWord on the (Church) street is that Sono Baking Company will open tomorrow Wednesday at 7 am. Moving into the funky space previously occupied by Java, they’ll offer a limited menu this 1st week.

Meanwhile, Geiger’s Home & Garden Center has closed its Post Road East location. That’s the end of a long era. For several decades before Geiger’s, it was known as Parsell’s Garden Mart.

Redevelopment plans for the 2-acre site include a commercial/residential complex with 12 residential rental units — 2 of them classified as “affordable” — plus a retail building and bank.

Geiger’s is still open in Fairfield, New Canaan, Greenwich and Mamaroneck. And consultation services are still offered in their Sconset Square location.

From which — starting tomorrow — employees can walk a few steps over to Westport’s newest coffee shop, Sono Baking Company.

Geigers

Because We Haven’t Run A Starbucks Entitled Parking Photo In A Couple Of Weeks…

…and because this one takes the (coffee) cake, we offer for today’s outrage:

Starbucks parking

At 1st glance, there’s nothing wrong with this photo. However, the Lexus on the left is not exiting the lot onto the Post Road Cedar Road.

It’s parked there.

That’s right. Alert “06880” reader  Jo Dickison — who snapped the photo — says the Lexus was there when she went in to Starbucks. And still there when she came out.

So even the lame “I was just running in to get coffee” excuse doesn’t work.

Because the Lexus driver was sitting down, inside. Enjoying one very entitled cup of joe.

 

Westport Inn: New Owners Revealed

So who exactly purchased the Westport Inn, saving it from possible demolition and Westport from the specter of a 200-unit, 5-story housing complex? And what did they pay?

The new owner is Building and Land Technology. The purchase price was $14.5 million.

Building and Land TechnologyBLT is described in a press release as “a leading real estate investor, developer and operator in Fairfield County and nationally.” It owns over 50 hotels across the US, and has developed numerous mixed-use projects, including Stamford’s Harbor Point.

Among its “premier commercial holdings”: the Nyala Farms complex, adjacent to I-95 Exit 18. Originally built for Stauffer Chemical, it now counts Bridgewater Associates as its anchor tenant.

“We’re pleased to add the Westport Inn to our local portfolio,” said Carl R. Kuehner III, CEO of BLT. “We believe that the Inn complements our office holdings here, and will continue to provide benefits for local corporations as well as residents of the Westport community.”

The Westport Inn began as The New Englander, in 1960. With BLT's purchase today for $14.5 million, it will remain a hotel.

The Westport Inn began as The New Englander, in 1960. With BLT’s purchase today for $14.5 million, it will remain a hotel.

First Selectman Jim Marpe — who with Planning and Zoning Commission chair Chip Stephens worked to find a purchaser for the Sheldon Stein-owned Inn — said that BLT has “an extraordinary local and national reputation as a real estate investor, and is an experienced hotel owner. It’s gratifying to achieve a result that forestalls previous plans to develop multifamily housing on the hotel site, which we determined was not an appropriate use here.”

Stephens noted that apartments would have resulted in “excessive densification,” as well as the loss of much-needed hotel rooms.

The  Westport Inn recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. It includes 117 rooms, plus 6000 square feet of event space.

Fairfield County Gives!

Fairfield County is filled with folks who give.

But today, they’ll really give.

From now through midnight, we’re celebrating Giving Day. Anyone — including businesses, employee groups, school classes and others — is raising as much as they can, for a few hundred worthy area non-profits.

Hosted by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, and sponsored by Bank of America, it’s a comprehensive, online, one-stop way to make a powerful, collective statement.

Matching funds and prize money is available, heightening each gift’s impact.

Giving Day

Last year — the 1st-ever Giving Day —  drew over $750,000 in donations, from 9,211 people. More than 250 nonprofits benefited.

This year’s goal: $1 million.

The website lists an astonishing array of good causes, in 12 categories. Westport-based organizations include the Animal Shelter, Wildlife in Crisis, the Levitt Pavilion, Westport Arts Center, Westport Cinema Initiative, Westport Country Playhouse, Westport Historical Society, Westport School of Music, A Better Chance, Staples Tuition Grants, Westport Astronomical Society, Earthplace, Homes With Hope, Culture of Respect, the YMCA and Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services. (I’ve probably missed a few. Sorry!)

Beyond our town borders are Mercy Learning Center, WPKN, Soundkeeper, Circle of Friends, Jewish Home for the Elderly, STAR, the Merritt Park Conservancy — you get the idea.

But what are you waiting for? Stop reading! Click here.

As every organization knows: Every dollar counts. And there’s no time to waste.

 

Silver’s Bazaar: A Clever Idea Moves Forward

What’s up with Steve Silver’s plan to open a vendors’ bazaar in his former gift-and-luggage store Compo Acres space?

Lots.

Steve is shooting for April 1 — no foolin’! — as the target date for his innovative venture. He’s already heard from 20 local vendors, but there’s room for more.

Steve Silver in his former gift-and-luggage store. Soon, the space behind him will be filled with artists and entrepreneurs.

Steve Silver in his former gift-and-luggage store. Soon, the space behind him will be filled with artists and entrepreneurs.

Artisans of all kinds — painters, jewelry makers, scarf designers, you name it — as well as entrepreneurs with ideas they’d like to test; people with a product to sell; mom-and-pops that need a smaller space…all are welcome.

“Whether you have 1 item or 100, this will be Westport’s small business refuge,” Steve says. “It’s got the power of an energetic group, uniting for a great cause. The possibilities are endless!”

Local artists or entrepreneurs interested in a space can contact betsy@ourtowncrier.com.

And — because this is truly a crowd-sourcing venture — even the name is up for grabs. “Silver’s Bazaar” is not set in stone. If you’ve got a better idea, email steve@silverofwestport.net.  

And Why Shouldn’t I Park Here? I Need Milk And Eggs!

In the nicest weather, Trader Joe’s is crowded. And the parking lot is a mess.

Today is not the nicest weather. We’re in the midst of our daily snowstorm, so naturally everyone headed out for milk and eggs. The parking lot was a real mess.

Alert “06880” reader Pam Ehrenburg has seen plenty of crowds at Trader Joe’s. She calls today’s “the busiest ever.”

Pam has also seen plenty of entitled parking in her years in Westport. But this sight left her, she says, “in awe.”

Trader Joes parking

“Parker smiled,” she reports. “But didn’t move.”

Yanni Delivers

On Christmas Eve in 2008, Westporter Tina Crosby had a small leak in her newly painted kitchen.

Within an hour, Yanni Papakosmas of Father & Son Plumbing in Wilton — I’m not sure if he’s the father or son — sent someone over. He solved the problem temporarily. The next day — Christmas — the job was done.

Over the years Tina hired him for other work, and referred him to friends. “He is honest, very knowledgeable, and does excellent work,” she says.

In the current freeze, plumbers have all the work they can handle. But today — his day off — Yanni showed up again, when Tina called.

It took only 10 minutes to fix the problem. Tina reached for her wallet.

“No charge!” Yanni said.

His business card reads: “Small enough to care. Big enough to deliver!”

And classy enough to rate a shout-out on “06880.”

Father and son plumbing

 

 

Fairfield County Aid, From Near & Far

Connecticut leads the nation in income inequality. The top 1 percent of our residents earn average incomes more than 48 times those of the bottom 99 percent. In Fairfield County, the figures are undoubtedly even more skewed.

Quietly — but very effectively — Near & Far Aid helps those on the lowest rungs.

NearFar_logoSince 2000, the unassumingly named, all-volunteer organization has donated more than $14 million to men, women and children living in poverty right in our midst.

Grants go to services providing emergency food, shelter and clothing; economy security programs like job training, financial literacy and affordable housing, and of course education.

The funds come from neighbors who contribute generously — very generously. But raising money is never easy. With tremendous competition from many worthy groups for donations, Near & Far Aid works hard to solicit funds.

They’re helped greatly by the generosity of the Mitchells. The  family — who offer up their store for nearly every charity that asks — holds a special place in their hearts for Near & Far Aid. For 20 years, they’ve hosted an amazing Spring Gala.

Sara BareillesThis year’s event is Friday, March 6. The highlight: an intimate concert with 5-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles. There are also live, silent and fine wine auctions; a spring fashion show, plus cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and supper.

As usual, Bob Mitchell — co-CEO of Mitchells and Richards — will be a “silent” event chair. He lends support, ideas and resources, but takes no credit.

“We truly cherish our 20-year partnership with Near & Far Aid,” Mitchell says. “Our family shares the same mission to give back to the less fortunate, particularly here in our community. We are so excited for this year’s 20th anniversary. We’re confident it will raise a record amount of funds, bringing relief, assistance and hope to those living in poverty.”

The “wealth gap” in this area is enormous. The consequences are real.

But the opportunity to help is priceless.

(For information on Spring Gala tickets, or to volunteer or make a donation, click here.)

The Mitchell family

The Mitchell family

 

Calling All Roofers!

I posted this story in January, 2011. Unfortunately, it’s needed again. Thanks to alert “06880” reader Peter Flatow, who found it — and the many Westporters who (I am sure) will respond to it.

—————————————-

An alert “06880” reader writes:

Hey Dan, maybe you could post something asking for recommendations for contractors or whomever will clean off roofs.  I’m worried about killing myself.  Maybe we give some local entrepreneurs some business.

A great idea.  Click “Comments” to recommend anyone you know — or yourself. Feel free to include recommendations of any other FML-weather-related folks we might need in other categories, too. (Plumbers, anyone?)

Caveat emptor:  This is a blog, not the Better Business Bureau.  Do due diligence before hiring!

Ice

Jimmy Izzo Turns 50!

Everyone in Westport loves Jimmy Izzo. He’s a 1983 Staples grad, the owner of Crossroads Hardware, an RTM member, and an all-around great guy.

In honor of his 50th birthday — today! — alert “06880” reader/proud sister Sue Izzo offers this tribute:

Many of us have siblings we love. But I believe I have one of the most selfless, giving and amazing brothers in the world.

Jimmy Izzo, at one of his favorite spots: the Longshore golf course.

Jimmy Izzo, at one of his favorite spots: the Longshore golf course.

Jimmy is 10 years older than me. When I was obsessed with Cabbage Patch dolls, he was into Van Halen and was the bookie at Staples High School driving around in his Scirocco. Yet every night, it was my brother who put me to bed and read me a story.

As a junior in college I decided to study abroad. My brother handed me a credit card. He specifically said it was for emergencies.

Anyone who has traveled through Europe at the age of 19 knows how easy it is to find $2,000 worth of emergencies over 6 months. He just laughed it off.

But what makes my heart swell the most is the unconditional love and support Jimmy has given me through the years, as I dealt with my long journey with depression, building a business, and riding this roller coaster we call life. Having him by my side has made it all possible.

My sister and I abandoned my mom and dad. I left for the West Coast, my sister for Cape Cod. We completely broke the Italian daughter code.

My brother remained in Westport, and has been a pillar in my family’s life. How many sons do you know who not only bring lasagna or eggplant parm to their parents, but cook it from scratch?

The Izzo family -- decked out in Italy's colors.

The Izzo family — decked out in Italy’s colors. Jimmy is 2nd from right.

And have you met my father, A.J.? Not only is Jimmy his first and only son, but he works and puts up with him every day. My brother is definitely an amazing son!

I am confident in saying there is not one person who does not like my brother. He is the ultimate friend. His heart is so big, so giving, and unconditional. His door is always open. He is there to listen to a friend in need, lend a hand, and give advice when needed.

People are very lucky to have him their lives. It is rare to have such a loyal friend as Jimmy. When I come home to visit it is like walking into a bar with the mayor, though I doubt a mayor would be so well liked.

Jimmy Izzo (4th from right), and a few of his many close  friends.

Jimmy Izzo (3rd from right), and a few of his many close friends.

Two words: Ice melt. Go on Jimmy’s Facebook page to see when the latest shipment came in. Crossroads is more than a hardware store; it is the local community center. I love seeing my brother, dad and the longtime employees interacting with old and new residents.

So many times I hear my brother say, “just come down the store. We’ll take care of you.” And that is exactly what he does. That store has been in business for over 20 years. I love what it represents for our town. It is the epitome of community. And I love that my brother cares so much about Westport, its origins, and maintaining what we can of the Westport we grew up with.

So on his 50th birthday, I wish my brother Jimmy many more beautiful Compo Beach sunrises, as much laughter as possible, and a heart full of love and happiness.

I am so proud to call you my brother. I love you more than words could ever describe.

Love,
Sue

Jimmy Izzo, his mother and sisters.

Jimmy Izzo, his mother and sisters.