How Far Would You Go?

I lucked out the other day:  I found a parking spot smack in front of the Y.

Site of the next great Westport restaurant?

As I got out of my car, 3 guys were checking out the dilapidated-but-handsome-and-now-under-renovation Federal home on Church Lane.   I’m guessing they were potential investors in the restaurant planned for the site, nestled between the former Red Cross building and Manolo.

Would you go there? they asked.

That’s a wide-open question — sort of like the polls that ask if you think you’ll get married, without actually asking to whom.  I mean, are we talking seafood or Thai (which I love ) or Hooters (which, um…)?

So I talked to the restaurateurs about Manolo, that general area of downtown, and the Y itself.

Basically, I said, Westporters don’t like to walk.  They’ll circle the block endlessly, in order to park next to the YMCA — so they don’t wear themselves out heading to the Fitness Center.

Zest — a pretty good restaurant — couldn’t make it there; I’m sure the limited parking (“15 Minutes Only” right in front) didn’t help.  Finalmente, around the corner, has had to battle the perception that there are only 4 parking spots within walking distance.

Well, what about the Baldwin lot? — the one behind Williams-Sonoma — the restaurant guys asked.  Wouldn’t people park there — especially if the new place had outdoor tables?

I didn’t want to dash their enthusiasm.  On the other hand, I didn’t want to cause them to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars either.

So I’ll ask my ever-perceptive, always-honest “06880” readers:  What do you think?

Answer the survey below.  But beware:  If you say “yes,” you’re morally obligated to support the new restaurant.

31 responses to “How Far Would You Go?

  1. Estelle Margolis

    Tell them I would walk a mile for a really good corn beef sandwich. Try the Carnegie or the Stage Deli sometime and then compare to what we get here.
    Parking is no problem for me!
    Estelle Margolis

    • WestportNow reported that a new restaurant called “The Blue Chip” is coming to the space where Jasmine was located. They have a location in Danbury already so I checked out the menu on the website…they have a corned beef sandwich. Menu looks great overall, too.

  2. Considering that I frequent both Finalmente and Manolo…. And I love to walk, yes! Bring on more restaurants downtown. Let’s just work on making that whole area more pedestrian friendly.

  3. Great location IF they keep the Y downtown…which they should!

  4. Parking is never an issue after 6pm.

    But, if I’m in a mood for an expensive romantic dinner with my beloved, I’d go to Splash.

  5. When I go to the Wild Pear I either walk from my office on Kings Highway or I park behind Williams-Sonoma and walk the rest of the way. I love to walk, and if the food is good, I’d go in a heartbeat! I miss Onion Alley, that was a great place for lunch. I’d love to have another great lunch place. I know it sounds strange, but Penny’s Diner on East Avenue in Norwalk has really great thinly sliced and VERY lean corn beef :))

    • Judi, I’m almost always in agreement with you, but you lost me with the Wild Pear. I’ve tried it and sworn it off for good…I found terrible food at high prices.

      Did I just go on a bad day?

      Keep the opinions coming, I always enjoy reading your comments.

      P.S. Have you had the baby yet? Good luck either way 😉

      • I have had some good soups there, so perhaps it was an off day? I do go to the salad bar there more often in the spring and summer, which is always really fresh and good.

        The baby is a month away! Thank you for asking! I’m walking like George Jefferson!!

        I enjoy your opinions and comments too! I read 06880 before I get out of bed every morning.

        • “…George Jefferson”, you made me laugh!
          Good references, the other day Dan mentioned Sanford and Son, both favorite shows of mine from the ’70s (when I was a kid).

          For soups I usually go to Chef’s Table or Balducci’s, but I’ll give them another chance and try the soup.

  6. Given the other changes that are planned for that immediate area, I think I would go there frequently – right now I don’t – lack of parking somewhat, lack of atmosphere mostly. Quain’t it ain’t!

  7. I love to walk in downtown restaurant. Sometimes, I park my car at Compo Shopping Center and walk to Main Street for shopping. I tried to do that this winter, but the sidewalks weren’t shoveled.

  8. Yes, I would go there – especially with outside dining options.

  9. Conspicious Constipation

    I recently ate at Manolo. Great steamed mussels.
    Parking was simple. At the Wild Pear. Mario’s
    has troubled parking and has done well. Depends
    on the food and not the parking. While I wouldn’t
    stroll around in 17 degree weather, I would love to see
    the streets of Westport downtown blocked off to cars
    so people could aimlessly walk around at night once
    the snow melts in May.

  10. At least once a week, I used to park my car in Parker Harding Plaza and walk through the tunnel to Onion Alley for the best hamburger in the county! Even if the weather was lousy, the walk was short, and to some extent ‘covered’. The population is aging. I’m not sure that folks will walk. That parking lot is very big, and it will be a schlepp from the far end to the restaurant. At the Dressing Room, there are men to guide the parking and a huge handicapped section. But that lot is solely for the Playhouse and the restaurant. The Williams-Sonoma lot is for everybody.

  11. “They’ll circle the block endlessly, in order to park next to the YMCA — so they don’t wear themselves out heading to the Fitness Center.”

    You made me laugh Dan (not that I’m one of those).

    And I agree, Zest was good (and loud), with a nice wine selection.

    We like Thai too. Where do you go around here?

    • Good, but not great: Papaya Thai in SoNo; Little Thai in Darien; The King and I in Fairfield. Slim pickings indeed.

      • Thanks for the tips. We do go to, and like, Papaya Thai in SoNo.
        I have heard good things about Little Thai, but haven’t been and I’ll look for The King and I and try it.

  12. Love to walk downtown. Then again I’m an 8 min walk from Manolo’s.
    Eat at Manolo’s frequently and welcome a new place!

  13. King and I is excellent, Fairfield has great restaurants, great town to eat.

  14. So far, it looks like 4-5 people will eat there. Therefore, if the aces amazing and they have 6 tables, they’ll probably do fine. Otherwise, I think the premise may hold: “Church Lane will have trouble supporting a full-sized restaurant.” It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try though.

  15. The Brit in me is always hoping for a decent tea room, the exec in me is always looking for a decent breakfast spot for an AM meeting to start the day, any chance for either?

  16. Bring back Ships and I am in! We need more good family resturants in Westport. Outdoor seating would be a plus.

  17. I’m with you Dan, I LOVED Ships!!! And the candy store that was next door was called Judy’s. The owner gave me free rock candy, because my name name was Judi 😀

  18. We eat at Finalmente weekly and usually arrive in 2 cars, No difficulty parking. We eat at Manolo once every 2 weeks probably. Again no major problem parking aside from the entitled, obnoxious, Hummer (and larger) driving “Mommies” who totally block the entire street and wouldn’t consider moving 2 feet for an ambulance filled with 6 year olds. Such is Westport.
    Any restaurant with good, consistent and fairly priced food and service will do just fine regardless of parking. Pietro Scotti is a great chef, but Zest was not a great restaurant, at all.

    I for one am very excited about Battali’s new joint as well as Shake Shack.

    And anyone who has never been to or not in a while should remember Westfair Fish & Chips. Real, whole belly fried clams, onion rings and lobster rolls. As good or better as any any shack on the shoreline.

    I commend Gordon and all who are working hard to bring some nightlife back to Westport and cab’t wait for this spring/summer to have new eateries. Now, if only someone would resurrect Players Tavern.