Real Estate Roulette

The word on the treadmill is that New York Sports Club may leave Compo Shopping Center.

An employee answering the phone three days ago denied the rumor.  The Norwalk location closed March 31, she said, but Westport will remain open.  She took my name and number, and said the general manager would call back.   I’m still waiting.

Chip Stephens — the ear-to-the-ground, eyes-wide-open longtime Westporter who may mount a first selectman run — heard the fitness club news, and let his imagination run wild.

With so many businesses closing, he says, what would happen if real estate owners panicked and agreed to long-term leases at reasonable rates?  Perhaps, Chip wonders…

Food  Fair could return to its former site — the one currently occupied by New York Sports Club…

The Magees might reopen  Bridge Market, with basic home-and-beach grocery needs and a sub-$5 sub…

The Purcells would resurrect their bar, complete with shuffle hockey and pool tables in the strip mall across from Barker’s — er, Super Stop & Shop…

The Crest Drive-In might reappear at Derma Clinic, just a few yards behind its original, legendary spot at the Playhouse Square entrance.

I built on Chip’s list.  Selective Eye could return where Katzenberg Kafe just klosed.  Sport Mart might live again in its first home, Sconset Square (back in the day it was “Sherwood Square”).  And the Pepper Mill could revert to its long-ago role:  a Greyhound bus stop.

Take it from here, “06880” readers.  If you could reincarnate your favorite place — at a currently closed site — what would it be?

26 responses to “Real Estate Roulette

  1. Judith Crowley

    You mentioned my all time favorite store … The Selective Eye! The most fabulous and ORIGINAL clothing, sexy cards, naughty shoes – yes on Main Street in Westport! I also loved Sweet Pea (Playhouse Square next to Friendly’s – doh! Derma Clinic, oops, not anymore. Well, then next to The Organic Market). Sweet Pea is where all us pre-teens bought our satin heart and rainbow pillows for our bedrooms and fun stickers!

  2. Judith Crowley

    Oops! One more oldie but goodie .. The Wizard of Westport! They were in the shopping center across from the Saugatuck Congregational Church and sold costumes, fake doggie do, whoppie cushions, and my favorite, fake tickets to put on peoples’ cars when they parked inconsiderately. We sure could use those around town! 😉

  3. Would love to bring Fuddruckers back into the Post Corner Pizza/Cingular/Westport Bank location on the Post Road. Their chocolate chip cookies were spectacular.

  4. Does anyone remember that Selective Eye first opened on the Post Road, directly opposite Main Street? The floor was covered with pebbles, and the earrings were fabulous. It was worth dodging traffic to get there. Opposite Remarkable (sigh), Gristedes had an extraordinary pre-mixed meat loaf. Lou would save the last one for me if there were a run. Next door, Gristedes Liquor always had a sign on a St. Pauli Girl six-pack, saying “Paul Newman’s beer!” Dorain’s had hundreds of exotic cigarette brands and a little further south on Main Street the coolest clothes were at Liverpool. The owners, Jeff & Hank, were pretty cool too. I had my bangs cut at Charles of the Ritz, and even bought a dress once at Peck & Peck.

  5. I’d forgotten those pebbles at the Selective Eye! I also miss Chubby Lane’s–though it doesn’t qualify for Real Estate Roulette since the building itself is no longer in existence. Willows Pediatrics, I believe, now inhabits the property. (Remember the sky blue shirts and navy pants all the CL employees wore?)

  6. Lived in the Westport area for 40 years, but never went to Chubby Lane’s. Did manage the Big Top, though. And Muriel’s Diner was for more…um…elegant outings.

    • Chubby’s was my first job — at the Post Road and the beach. The home of the first $1 hamburger in Westport. How he got us to wear those knee-length blue socks, I’ll never know.

      • Nothing would beat getting a great steak at Manero’s, where Contes just vacated. Plus they had the best martinis in Westport, and were so large that even in the days before designated drivers, you could only safely have one.

        • Another glaring omission. Allens’. Good seafood, best lobster in town and maybe the most personable wait staff in Westport. I drive by the site and wish it could have been saved.

  7. Uh, this is a guy who went through life answering to “Chubby.”

  8. Beat me to the punch on the “Porky Manero’s” site. How about Country Gal, which might have been in the Katzenberg’s space or the LF space…Huckapoo shirts!

  9. We need an Arnie Kaye back

  10. The African Room was above Country Gal, owned by Kay Metts. Early 1970s. Beautiful clothes, African fabrics. Burt Knopp, who owned Country Gal and taught guitar, has been a beekeeper in Vermont for many years.

  11. Chip Stephens

    Here is one for you Hoover… Bring back the Bridge Grille , Westport’s 70’s version of Cheers The building is , man that would be a blast from the past!

  12. Tom Allen SHS '66

    The Arrow, at its original site, the corner of Charles St. and Saugatuck Ave., with Joe, Lou and Frank Nistico out front and their parents manning the tiny kitchen. Give me a rare cheeseburger and a chocolate shake from the Big Top at its old site — corner of Roseville and the Post Road — with Jimmy Flynn and Barney Tumey at the grille.

  13. How about the old Penny Candy Store on the Post Road… or the Ice Cream Place on the bottom floor of the place on main Street…. or the original Westport Smoke Shop that blew up where Ben and Jerry’s is now… or maybe Ship’s…or as everyone else has stated… BIG TOP..oh how do I miss BIG TOP!!!

  14. Art’s Deli, around the corner from GoodWill, across from the Premier Market (with all those paperbacks with the plain covers hidden in a corner).

  15. Bring back the pink ice cream shop on Main Street – next to the Remarkable Bookstore – across from Gristedes.

  16. Wasn’t that the Ice Cream Parlor — across from Remarkable, underneath Jason the Jeweler? Jason’s space is now Great Stuff, and I’m not sure what’s under it — keeps changing. And while we’re on that part of the street….I’ll never forget Chez Pierre’s salad dressing, not to mention the rest of the menu…

    • Yes, it was the Ice Cream Parlor — in its first (or second) location. It was also at the end of Compo Shopping Center, where Cohen’s Fashion Opticals is now (I can’t remember which of those two sites came first and second). The third location was across from the old Crest Drive-In (in the building that later became Bunyan’s, and is now a real estate office). The Ice Cream Parlor was upstairs; Buffalo Clothiers was downstairs. The signature ice cream dish was the “pig in a trough” — if you could eat it all, you didn’t have to pay for it.

  17. The African Room? Wow–that’s a flash from the past. I worked there part-time one summer. I’d completely forgotten until you mentioned the place, Wendy.

    • You know we’re getting old when we forget where we worked! I have done that myself. Ah yes…now, what was I saying again?

  18. Summer of 1970 stands out — Everything I wore was from the African Room. Then the Plumed Serpent came to Brooks Corners, and I was clothed for life. And remember Crystal Palace? It was briefly in the Great Stuff space. Beautiful vintage jewelry. Sigh.

    • All my clothes from that era came from the used blue jeans store (“Functional Clothing”), run in a basement directly across from Brooks Corner.

      Today we can buy new jeans that “look” used, for outrageous prices. Even new jeans that look new cost quite a bit. As the country lurches toward green-ness, isn’t it time for pre-owned clothing to make a comeback?