A Slice Of Success

If the battle for Westport’s heart was a prizefight, today Saugatuck knocked downtown out of the ring.

Or — to put it another, perhaps more maritime way — the original business center of Westport blew the long-time reigning champ out of the water.

The 1st annual Slice of Saugatuck Festival — the brainchild of area resident Matthew Mandell, with the collaboration of dozens of restaurants and stores — drew thousands of residents to that pizza slice-shaped, still semi-Italian, and fairly funky neighborhood.

EMTs eat well, thanks to the Saugatuck Rowing Club's Boathouse chef.

Free food (and beer, wine and margaritas) were a main attraction.  But there was much more:  music, kayaking, hairstyling, fire truck sitting, fly fishing, tae kwan do, people-watching…

In other words:  fun.

Down Under offered free kayaking, on a gorgeous afternoon.

I’m a native Westporter.  I’ve always loved Saugatuck.  But until today — when I strolled its very stroll-able streets, and wandered its alleys and shortcuts — I didn’t really think about how much is packed into that small space.

The range of restaurants — from the Black Duck to the Boathouse; Mansion to Mario’s; Rizzuto’s to Tarry Lodge and Viva’s — is remarkable.  There’s room for Saugatuck Grain and Grape, plus Saugatuck Wine & Spirits.

And — as the 2nd phase of redevelopment begins — there’s even room to grow.

Of course, new projects are planned for downtown too.  From the Church Lane restaurant/retail complex to National Hall across the river — and, at some point, whatever replaces the Y — new restaurants and businesses could bring refreshing energy to that much-maligned area of town.

Riverside Avenue or Main Street?  The real fight may just have begun.

Music was a key element of Slice of Saugatuck. This duo performed outside Rizzuto's Restaurant.

Outdoor tables were a prime attraction at Tutti's.

Near Mario's, this bench bore a sign: "Yankee's Fans. Bullpen bench from the original Yankee Stadium. $7,500. See Fred."

The line was long outside Tarry Lodge. Great appetizers served by roving waiters eased the wait.

9 responses to “A Slice Of Success

  1. Charlie Haberstroh

    It was a great success! Kudos to Matt and all those who helped him organize and execute a wonderful 3 hour celebration of a special part of Westport. However, don’t forget the “anchor” at the other end of Saugatuck, Dunvilles, which also had a live band, sliders and chicken wings. The other restaurants there also served free food.

  2. We had a great time at the slice. Very dog-friendly too! Congratulations to all! Hope this becomes a regular thing.

  3. The Dude Abides

    If the analogy to the Ortiz-Mayweather fight is any indication of the comparison between downtown/Saugatuck, it is scripted and fixed. Nice to see something new in the town and takes advantage of the beauty of the water.

  4. Thanks for a fun and free event. I went there between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and there was a shortage of spoons, napkins and, sometimes, food! I think the crowd caught the restaurateurs by surprise. I hate to mention it but I think this event could charge a nominal fee and still get a good turnout.

  5. A clear fall day, a high tide showing the Saugatuck at its best, friendly and welcoming restauranteurs and shopkeepers, well-managed traffic, plenty of walking space, a mostly local crowd reacquainting themselves with each other and the pleasure that Westport can be: Matthew Mandell and all of the many who supported his idea found and executed a great formula.

  6. Thanks for the kind words. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

    Might I ask a favor? If you see a Slice lawn sign, please take it down and hold onto it. Email me and I’ll come get it or you can drop it off at my house.

    Instead of the signs being thrown in the garbage, they could be used again next year. And the signs will be out of sight that much quicker. THANKS!!!

    • The Dude Abides

      Wow, what an organizer! I wish more would be concerned about taking down their signs and saving money in doing so! PAL signs are still up since the spring and I believe the Yankee Doodle Fair was in July? They clutter every espanade in the town and it is not even election time yet.

    • Wow, Matt. You seem like a doubly nice person now!

  7. Since I just moved into Saugatuck, this was a great way to acquaint myself to all the restaurants and shops in the area. Saturday night, instead of cooking dinner, we ordered take-out from one of the restaurants we visited earlier in the day. Our goal, now, is to eat at every one of those restaurants over the next few months. I hope this becomes an annual event.