Category Archives: Local business

CL&P Saves The Ospreys

For months, an osprey nest high above a Fresh Market utility pole has fascinated Westporters.

This morning though, the raptors caused a power outage at the shopping center.

CL&P workers rushed to the scene. Merchants and shoppers gathered to watch, as crew members in 2 large buckets examined the scene.

Osprey nest

Everyone expected the nest to be removed.

Instead, the CL&P guys carefully rerouted the electrical feed a few yards away. The nest was undisturbed.

The utility company has taken a ton of hard knocks in the past few years, over their slow response to natural disasters.

This could have been a disaster of another kind. CL&P’s quick — and very wise — response should have them flying high.

Putting A New Stamp On Saugatuck

If you’re one of the many Westporters peeved by the Playhouse Square post office: Help is at hand.

A new branch opens next month in Saugatuck. Located on Ketchum Street, just off Franklin Avenue — the one-way street running from Tarry Lodge underneath I-95 — it’s got 2 things our itty-bitty shopping center post office lacks: parking, and interior space larger than, um, a postage stamp.

Saugatuck post office

The Saugatuck branch replaces the old building next to the train station, which was followed by a grim temporary trailer in a parking lot opposite Dunville’s.

As a resident of the condos behind Playhouse Square, I strongly urge everyone to use this new branch for all your postal needs. (Or not. As noted in the comments below, it’s for post office boxes only.)

And — once you’re there — bop over to Garelick & Herbs. WestportNow reports that the popular gourmet food store opens soon at 580 Riverside Avenue, across from Downunder. It replaces CM, another gourmet market.

Garelick & Herbs is also vacating its Post Road East location, opposite Stop & Shop. It will move to the Southport line, site of the former Double L Market.

Which is not far from the Green’s Farms post office. Where you can also go, to avoid the Playhouse Square mess.

3 Bears For Sale

No, not the longtime restaurant on Newtown Turnpike. That was sold awhile ago — to Chabad Lubavitch.

These 3 bears — papa, mama and baby? — have stood for years outside the Post Road BP gas station, near Maple Avenue.

Bear collage

Now it’s an Exxon station.

And the bears bear “For Sale” signs.

The oil industry doesn’t get more cutthroat than this.



Papa John’s Comes To Westport

Well, sort of.

I got a semi-frantic email yesterday, from an alert and very concerned “06880” reader. She wrote:

I was having dinner with my parents and a couple of their friends.

We were moaning about the  beach and some of the plans for downtown. Anyway, one of them asked if I had seen a sign for Papa John’s coming to Main Street in the old Remarkable Book Shop (Talbots).

I haven’t been down to investigate. Frankly, I’m not sure I can handle it. It might put me over the edge again, like Dunkin Donuts in Saugatuck.

Wondering what you know or have seen.

“06800” is a full-service blog. So I headed downtown — braving the art show crowds — and I can report that, without a doubt, it definitely is true.

The sign — at the corner of Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza — can’t be any clearer:




Michele Bakes Her Last Westport Pies

Michele Stuart — owner of Michele’s Pies on the Post Road, across from the old post office — writes:

We are closing our Westport location this Sunday (July 20). We will relocate all of our business back to our original Norwalk location, and our Norwalk store will remain open. It is just 10 minutes from our Westport location.

We are excited about many new ventures. For example, we have been selling our pies on QVC. We also are excited about catering desserts for wedding, corporate events and private parties. Based on many requests, I will also do pie-making classes in the near future.

Michele Stuart, in her Westport store.

Michele Stuart, in her Westport store.

I have a young family, and I look forward to focusing on new opportunities that will allow me more family time. I thank Westport for all of their support over the last 3 years. Westport holds a close place in my heart, as I have lived here since I was 10. I am honored at the opportunity to have my store in this great town!

Come visit us in Norwalk (666 Main Avenue — Route 7 — near the Wilton line). We’re open Tuesday to Saturday (9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.) We will open on Sundays starting July 27 (10 a.m.-3 p.m.).

Uber Westport

Since time immemorial — well, at least since F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald summered here, guzzling bootleg gin and carousing in their motorcar up and down South Compo — Westport has had a difficult relationship with drinking and driving.

We don’t condone it, of course — particularly now, in the post-Mad Men era, when we all know its dangers.

But after a night at a party, restaurant or bar, none of us may be in condition to drive. Local taxis have sketchy reputations. And not many parents will call their kids for a ride.

Enter Uber.

Uber logoThe San Francisco-based company connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire. Cars are reserved through a cellphone app. Payments are done by credit card, so there’s no need to carry cash.

When you need a car, you click on the app. GPS pinpoints your exact location, and estimates how long before a car gets to you.

You can select car types: a black car or SUV. UberX is the least expensive: usually a Toyota Camry or something similar. You can also rate your driver.

Uber operates in over 70 large cities — and, for the past couple of months, Westport.

A longtime local businessman — who requested anonymity — used it Friday night to return home from a party.

It cost $7 — including tip. (Uber says, however, there is “no need to tip.”)

He told a few friends. The next night, they texted Uber too.

3 screen shots from Uber in San Francisco.

3 screen shots from Uber in San Francisco.

They report that their cars were nice and clean. The drivers were pleasant. It’s a great economic opportunity for them to operate here, the Westport rider says.

“It’s great,” he adds. “You don’t have to worry about having that extra glass of wine. Once the word spreads, our roads will be much safer. And the parties more fun!”

Somewhere in that great speakeasy in the sky, F. Scott and Zelda are smiling.


Bear Down

I’ve never understood why a black bear stood for years outside the BP station on the Post Road, near South Maple.

Then again, I’ve never understood gas companies in general.

Yet this late night/early morning vandalism is hard to fathom:

BP bear

Word on the street is that surveillance cameras caught the toppling — and hand-chopping.

Surveillance helped one night in August 2007 too, when the bear was actually stolen by a guy who’d just bought cigarettes. According to WestportNow, he (the bear, not the vandal) stood 3 to 4 feet tall, weighed 75 to 100 pounds, and was valued at $600.

Moral to anyone else thinking of messing with BP: You can run, but you can’t hide.

From a bear, or a surveillance video.

(Hat tip to Elizabeth Beller)


A Crumbling Career

Who you gonna believe?

The sign encouraging you to apply for a job:

Crumbs 2

Or the one that says, don’t bother:

Crumbs 1

Who knows? Both signs are on the same door, at the downtown Crumbs store.

A quick check of the website notes that there are 55 openings throughout the company.

Though none in Westport.

It also says — somewhat prophetically –“Start your ‘crumby’ career here!”

(Hat tip to Maxine Bleiweis)

Sidewalk Sale Madness

If you had a tough time finding a parking spot downtown today, there are 2  reasons why:

  1. It was the 1st day of Sidewalk Sales. Shoppers swarmed outdoor tables, looking for bargains.
  2. The always-packed Brooks Corner lot was closed.

Brooks Corner

The only plausible reason for 2) above is 1).

But that makes no sense — unless the owner of the lot feared that, Westport drivers being who they are, they would carelessly plow into all those shoppers in front of Brooks Corner stores.

But — surprise! — there were fewer shoppers there than anywhere else on Main Street.

Can anyone guess why?

(Hat tip to Sheila Flinn for the story idea and photo.)


Scrambling For Crumbs

Crumbs says it is shutting all its stores, the New York Times says.

The action comes a week after it was delisted from the Nasdaq. The company — which in addition to its store behind Tiffany on Jesup Green has 65 locations in 12 states and Washington, DC — may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

This is the 2nd cupcake closing in Westport this year. In February, Great Cakes shut its doors too.