Category Archives: Local business

Give The Gift Of…

Sure, you could have blown off your family, friends and football, and spent Thanksgiving at a mall.

Or you could have blown off work and the kids, and spent yesterday shopping online, during the made-up holiday called “Cyber Monday.”

But it’s so much better to shop locally. So here — as Christmas creeps up on us, and Chanukah looms even closer (it starts Sunday!) — “06880” presents our 1st-ever Holiday Shopping Guide.

If you’re looking for something that says (or screams) “Westport,” consider:

The Beautiful Pond.” This just-released book celebrates — in stunning watercolor and text — the historic, versatile and beautiful Sherwood Mill Pond.
A labor of love from Judith Katz and Robin Tauck — with all proceeds benefiting Sound Waters’ academic enrichment programs — it’s available at Barnes & Noble, Earthplace, and online here.

Beautiful Pond cover

A restaurant gift card is always welcome. One of my favorite spots is Kibberia. Located on the Norwalk line, this unpretentious spot serves spectacular Middle Eastern food. Owner Nick Iskandar is one of the truly good guys, and deserves all the support we can give him.


A bit pricier — and like Kibberia, not always on everyone’s radar — is Positano. This summer the Scarpati family relocated from Old Mill Beach to the site of the old Dressing Room, next to the Westport Country Playhouse. It’s a beautiful space, with the same regional Italian cuisine and family atmosphere diners have loved for years. Mangia!


From Positano, stroll a few feet to the Playhouse. Gift certificates are available there too, for events from the 2016 season to the Family Festivities series and Script in Hand play readings. Too often, Westporters overlook this cultural (and very cool) gem.

Playhouse logo

Speaking of food, the Farmers Market (winter version) is open Saturdays, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Gilberties’ Herb Gardens on Sylvan Lane. You may not always think of artisanal breads and cheeses, meats, baked goods, seasonal vegetables and hydroponically grown salad greens as holiday gifts, but there’s also organic maple syrup, interesting teas, dog biscuits and the like. Hey, I’m just trying to offer some only-in-Westport choices…

Westport farmers market logo

The chainification strangling Main Street is thankfully absent from Saugatuck. That neighborhood is still home to unique shops. The funkiest, friendliest and most fun of all may be Indulge by Mersene. From her digs on Railroad Place directly across from the train station, Mersene (like Cher and Adele, she needs only one name) sells a melange of gifts. Local artisans’ works, gourmet foods, decorative pillows, jewelry, home decor — it’s all there. The owner is as much an attraction as her goods — and that’s saying something.

Mersene, with some of her many unique creations.

Mersene, with some of her many unique creations.

A couple of steps from Indulge by Mersene is This men’s store — offering custom-tailored suits, blazers and shirts — is a cut apart from traditional clothing shops. The fabrics and selections are both classic and hip. is a little fish in a big sartorial pond, but definitely worth checking out.

If you’re one of those who look for worthy causes at the holidays — and I sure hope you do — you don’t have to look far. Some of my favorites in Westport are A Better ChanceAl’s Angels, Homes With Hope, Project Return and Staples Tuition Grants. Many others — including those just beyond our borders, like Mercy Learning Center and the Adam J. Lewis Preschool — do amazing work (and have amazing needs).

ABC logo

You can add your own special organization to the list. I’m sure you’ve got other gift ideas too. I’ve only scratched the surface. Click “Comments” below, to share your favorites with the very giving, very generous “06880” community.

WHS 06880 towels

Bonus idea: Why not give “06880” itself? You’ll find items like these at the Westport Historical Society.

Stew’s Lucky Turkey

Alert “06880” photographer Lynn U. Miller was at Stew Leonard’s yesterday morning.

(“Don’t ask why anyone in their right mind would be at Stew’s the morning of Thanksgiving,” she says.)

She spotted this gigantic billboard:

Stew Leonard's 1

The lucky turkey is not — as at least one customer thought — the bird selected for dinner at Stew’s home.

No — the “lucky turkey’ is actually on display in an enclosure at the entrance to the World’s Largest Dairy Store.

(Photos/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photos/Lynn U. Miller)

The lucky turkey — which lives to celebrate another day — is named Madison. Someone at the front desk told Lynn she (the turkey) is named for Stew Jr.’s daughter.

Sure, President Obama can pardon a turkey. Far more impressive for Stew to do so — saving countless kids from asking their parents, “Is that our dinner?”

Let There Be Lights!

Tonight — without fanfare — the new downtown street lights were turned on.

Just as importantly, the old cobra-style highway lights were shut off.

The new lamps — lower, warmer, nicer — are far kinder to Main Street. They also complement the lighting displays in many nearby stores.

The west side of Main Street...

A soft glow on the west side of Main Street…

...and the east. Note the new, user-friendly pedestrian crossing in front of Banana Republic too.

…and the east. Note the new, user-friendly pedestrian crossing in front of Banana Republic too.

Soon, the holiday decorations will be up. They will be far lovelier than last year’s sad zip-line effort.

Now all that’s left is for Eversource to remove the old lights. Let’s hope they move more quickly than the contractors on the Merritt Parkway North Avenue bridge.

Meanwhile, further north, a lone snowflake glistens near Oscar's...

Meanwhile, further north, a lone snowflake glistens near a new light by Oscar’s…

...while Tavern on Main boasts its traditional lamp, and a gorgeous wreath.

…while Tavern on Main boasts its traditional lamp, and a gorgeous wreath.

Time For A Mystery

Over a year ago — as Max’s Art Supplies was ready to close, and everything inside was for sale — I posted a story.

Miggs Burroughs wanted the iconic Karron’s Jewelry clock. Rescued once from another Westport store, it had served for years as a symbol of the famed art store.

He was a minute late. Sherri Wolfgang — a close friend — had already bought it. She told Miggs she’d wanted it since she was 8 years old, and bought her first sketch pad at Max’s.

At least Miggs got this memorable photo:

Max's famous Karron's clock with (from left) Nina Royce, Rita Ross Englebardt, Sherri Wolfgang, Shirley Mellor and Jay Cimbak.

Max’s famous Karron’s clock with (from left) Nina Royce, Rita Ross Englebardt, Sherri Wolfgang, Shirley Mellor and Jay Cimbak.

After staying in one spot for decades, the clock has now taken on a life of its own.

The other day, Ron Hofaker emailed me. He is not an alert “06880” reader. The only reason he knows about this blog is because — well, let him tell it:

Recently a friend called me at home in Hannacroix, New York. He said he was at a sale in Pleasant Valley, New York. I have been in the market for vintage midget race car parts. He believed he had found some.

He hadn’t. Not wanting to leave empty-handed after my hour-plus drive, I spotted a clock in the kitchen. After a bit of negotiation I purchased it.

Curious about its origin, I googled the name and found your site. Wish I had more to tell you about it.

Ron sent a photo. It sure looks like the same clock:

Karron's clock

It has no sentimental value for Ron . He’s offering it to any Westporter (or former resident) who wants it.

If you’re interested, email me:

But Miggs gets first dibs.

You Want Pizza With Those Pants?

Bedford Square is remaking downtown Westport.

And Urban Outfitters — across the street on Church Lane — is remaking itself.

The hipster-ish retailer — whose shares have plunged more than 50% since March — has just bought a restaurant group. Vetri Family is best known for Pizzeria Vetri. Food and Wine Magazine recently called it the best pizza place in the country.

The Vetri group plans to integrate restaurants and/or coffee shops in at least 3 Urban Outfitters locations: Herald Square; Austin, Texas — and Westport.

“Spending on casual dining is expanding rapidly, and thus, we believe there is tremendous opportunity to expand the Pizzeria Vetri concept,” says Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne.

Investors were not impressed. Urban Outfitters shares dropped another 7.5% yesterday.

Coming soon: a new eatery inside?

Coming soon: a new eatery inside?

Compo Acres Shopping Center Just Got A Bit More Crowded

Jersey Mike’s Subs opened today, in the Compo Acres space previously occupied by Robek’s.

The “fast-casual sub sandwich” spot — the 10th Connecticut location for the franchise, and one of 1500 overall — joins Trader Joe’s, Chipotle and SoulCycle in contributing plenty of constant, in-and-out traffic to Westport’s toughest-to-navigate shopping center.

That traffic will be particularly intense for a while. In addition to the usual let’s-try-the-new-place mentality, there’s an added incentive: Through Sunday, Jersey Mike’s is offering free subs for a minimum $1 contribution to Special Olympics.

The only catch: You’ve got to already have one of the 10,000 certificates “circulating throughout the community.”

Jersey Mike's was packed at 1:30 p.m. today.

Jersey Mike’s was packed at 1:30 p.m. today.

Sweeping Away Crumbs

Several alert “06880” readers have sent emails, noting that Crumbs is closed.

It’s not the 1st time the pricey cupcakery has shut its right-behind-Tiffany doors.

In July 2014, the parent company announced it was closing all 66 locations.

A few months later, it reopened.

Westport has survived worse. The beloved Great Cakes is no more, but owner Rick Dickinson is selling his great cupcakes (and more) at retail outlets like Calise’s and Peter’s Weston Market.

Will we miss Crumbs? Did anyone ever go there? And if so, why?



KHS Votes Westport A Winner

Election Day has come and gone. But for alert “06880” reader Christie Stanger, the good feelings linger. She writes:

On Tuesday, as adults took to the polls, younger Westporters took to the hallways and sidewalks outside of polling places, at bake sales to raise money for schools.

While Kings Highway Elementary is not unique, our adventure highlights what a wonderful town Westport truly is.

When KHS was closed as a voting site, we had to move our Election Day bake sale to the Westport Library. Westport Weston Health District’s Mark Cooper, Norma Jarrett, Sandy Arcudi and Melissa Romano helped us get our permit to sell baked goods. This is not like bake sales of old, but their kindness made the process seem very small-town.

Next, we coordinated with Town Hall. Janet Suchsland and Eileen Francis in the first selectman’s office gave us permission to operate in a public space. The library’s assistant director, Paul Mazzaccaro, allowed us to operate at both entrances. He provided us with tables and chairs, meeting us bright and early on Election Day (and wishing us luck).

Kings Highway Elementary School students, parents and siblings rock the Election Day bake sale at the Westport Library.

Kings Highway Elementary School students, parents and siblings rock the Election Day bake sale at the Westport Library.

And lucky we were! 70 degree weather with blue skies on November 3. That was fabulous — but the people of Westport were even warmer.

Voters, candidates and library patrons stopped by for goods made by loving hands, and others donated by generous businesses (Saugatuck Sweets, Great Cakes, Starbucks and Atlantic Pizza). The number of times we  heard “Keep the change!” and “Let me just give!” gave us warm fuzzies more real than the ones teachers handed out as pencil toppers.

Finally, we did not notice even one person parking outside the lines in either parking lot!

It all added up to one of those magical days, when you’re reminded that people are good and generous, that we are all in this together, and that Westport is an amazing town!

Get Your Judaica Here!

Westport Auction is one of those easy-to-miss local businesses.

Located in the former Saugatuck post office — just steps from the train station — it’s where owners Travis and Kate Worrell run monthly estate auctions. With experts who span centuries, styles and continents, customers are always sure to find something new — er, old — and interesting.

Right now, it’s Judaica.

An enormous 407 lots are being auctioned off soon. They’re from Moriah Galleries in New York, which is closing. Items — many quite rare — come from around the world.

Bids will come from around the globe too.

Continental silver circumcision set.

Continental silver circumcision set.

Among the Jewish ritual objects — called “the largest and finest collection of antique Judaica offered for sale”– are:

  • A 19th century Persian amulet with Kabbalistic charts for pregnant women
  • Silver circumcision shields
  • A Polish Kiddush goblet
  • A Galician silver Torah pointer
  • A Dutch Sabbath lamp
  • Also: Chanukah lamps, dreidels, Purim plates, seder trays, rugs, mezuzah cases, kosher seals, and much more.

The auction is set for Tuesday (October 27, 5 p.m.). Bids will be accepted in person (615 Riverside Avenue) and online (click here). Previews are Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Need another reason to go bid? Refreshments are provided by Mendy’s Kosher Catering.


Pachelbel Meets Compo Beach At Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe's