Arrow Points To An Amazing Reunion

Two years ago, someone started an “Arrow Restaurant” page on Facebook. It was a place for fans of the famed Saugatuck eatery to gather virtually, and share very real memories of the food and folks they loved so long and so well.

Lou Nistico, son of the founders of the Arrow.

Tom Nistico — grandson of the founders — still does not know who created the page. But he loves it.

He’s even more excited about an event it spawned.

On Saturday, August 18 (6 p.m.), there’s an Arrow reunion. It’s open to all former employees and customers — anyone, really. It promises to be one of the highlights of the year.

It’s at the Red Barn, naturally — the restaurant Tom and his family saved and restored in 1983. The Wilton Road location is gorgeous — but on August 11, all eyes will be a few miles south.

The original location. The restaurant got its name from the “arrow” shape of the Saugatuck Avenue/Franklin Street intersection.

The original Arrow — started in 1932 — was located on the corner of Saugatuck Avenue and Franklin Street (there’s a Chinese takeout place there now).

The 2nd site — remembered by most Westporters — was around the corner on Charles Street. When the Arrow closed in 1991, Jasmine took over the site. Soon it will reopen as the Blu Parrot, featuring live music.

That’s a welcome addition to the revitalized Saugatuck community. But the old Arrow was old school — just like the neighborhood it served. The rest of Westport came along for the ride.

The longtime location on Charles Street.

The Facebook page brings the old Arrow back to life. “It’s amazing to see what it still means to everyone,” Tom Nistico marvels.

“I wish I had a video of a weekend night, so I could see again all the families and customers pouring through the doors. If you lived in Fairfield County, you probably became part of the fabric of the Arrow.”

Tom reels off the names of families that were customers for generations: Gargiulo, Cantor, Nevas, Sawch, Kaelin, Romano, Santella, Palizzio, Buccieri, Pascarelli, Massiello, Strauss, Caiati, Carbone, Luczkowski, McMahon, Spinola, Backus.

Many will be back for the reunion. “People are coming from everywhere,” Tom says proudly. “Eddie Gargiulo from Atlanta, and his brother Steve from Florida. Eddie and Sara Fuchs from Dallas. Billy Murphy from Boston. Cal Neff delayed his return to Thailand to be there.”

Tom Nistico, back in the day.

Corrado Nebel — son of longtime employee Dino, and a recording singer and guitarist — will perform.

As the music plays, dinner is eaten and drinks downed, the stories will flow. Former cooks, waiters, busboys, dishwashers — and the many customers who loved them — will trade tales of the Nistico family’s legendary generosity to (it seemed) every kid in town.

They’ll talk about 4th of July parties, and recall the countless celebrities (including most of the New York Giants) and regular Westporters who enjoyed good times and great meals.

Like sausage and peppers. Chicken picatta, francaise and cacciatore. Lasagna with baked egg. “Tommy toss.” Pork chops with cherry peppers. Clams casino. Eggplant parm. Fried mozzarella. Meatballs…

(In typical Arrow fashion, the August 18 reunion is a steal for good food and good times. The $45 cost includes a full meal — appetizers, dinner, dessert, tax and tip. There’s also a cash bar. Call the Red Barn at 203-222-9549, or email Tom Nistico at tomnissr@yahoo.com for a reservation.)

22 responses to “Arrow Points To An Amazing Reunion

  1. I’m really looking forward to this. When I was growing up here in the 1960s, the Arrow was THE place my family would go to for a weekend dinner. (And, we didn’t really go out for dinners on weeknights, so I guess you could say the Arrow was our go-to place for dinner in Westport, period.)

    You would always see a ton of people you knew from town whenever you went to eat there and, of course, everyone knew and was friendly with the Nisticos.

    When I was older, Lou helped me get my first summer job.

    Great food, great times, great people.

  2. Great story Dan!!! Thank you so much for this wonderful trip down Memory Lane! You are the best! 🙂

  3. Timothy Woodruff

    My friend Tommy Shaughnessy worked at The Arrow through the 1970’s starting as a dishwasher and working his way up through the ranks to waiter. He fondly recalls some early hazing pranks from his “rookie season,” being sent by a cook over to Esposito’s Texaco for a few “large pots of steam.”

  4. I really wish I could be there, The Arrow was definitely a part of growing up in Westport in the 70s. Some illustrious Westport family names on that list. Have a great time everyone, I’ll be thinking of you!

  5. Wish I could be there for the reunion. I think the Arrow was the only place we went out to eat. We always sat on the bar side.

  6. Back in 1977, I went in to apply for a job. They told me to “come back next year”. As soon as I closed the door behind me, a loud roar of laughter ensued.

  7. Douglass Davidoff

    The food! The desserts! The portions! The prices! The people around you!

    And the spumoni!

    Davidoffs ate there all the time. It was a restaurant we all agreed on.

  8. Westporter4ever

    Ahhh The Arrow…how I miss that place! When I was little, it was THE place we went for every Birthday Celebration. I would always get a Tortoni with a candle and the waitstaff and some of the Nistico Family would sing Happy Birthday. My Mom grew up with the Nisticos, so we always knew everyone..Such a good time! Unfortunately one of my last memories, was going for dinner in between trips to see my grandmother in the hospital, they had just seated us, when one of the Nistico’s came over and wispered to my Mom she had a phone call from the Hospital. Needless to say my grandmother had passed. There were alot of tears that night…and it wasn’t just from us, it was the staff too. It was truely a family restuarant!! Now I feel like a Tortoni!!!!

  9. Dan,
    Thanks for the story!!
    The Arrow Restaurant, it was Westport!! The Nistico Family, they were and still are a huge part of Westport and always will be!!
    From going to and remembering the first one on Charles street as a kid with my parents and brothers, to the last one before it closed on Charles Street and going their with wife and my daughters!!
    From the incredible smells of the kitchen, to the waiter’s always remembering your name, to the newest members of the Staples football team working there as bus boys.
    To Lou and Joe and Frank always being there every night and saying “Thank you”!! To remembering ALL of the Nistico boys working at the restaurant and them always saying “Thank you”
    To seeing your favorite New York Giants on a regular basis!!
    The place was Westport!! Always was, always will be!!

    “Thank you” to the Nistico Family!!

    Enjoy the reunion, wish we could be there, but we won’t be able to make it!!

    So, Here’s to the Arrow and All of the memories of a lifetime!!

    Tom Wall

  10. I LOVED the Arrow! My first job – as a salad girl – lasted exactly two days. I was terrible. We used to go there almost every Sunday night with the Siddells. I loved “Uncle Lou.” Wish I could be there, but Colorado is a little far. Have fun! Melissa Strand

  11. Bruce Fernie

    Thanks Dan,
    As someone said above it was the ONLY place in town our entire family would always agree on. Sure wish I could be there, Have fun.

  12. Dominic Zeoli

    I was part of the Nistico famil growing up in Saugatuck working at the Arrow. I have great memories working there as a busser and waiter that no one can take away.

  13. I could not wait to get home from baseball to get down to the Arrow and visit Frank. No matter how long the line was out the door, I was sat immediately!!!!! A s a young kid, constantly playing ball at the park, we would hit the Arrow for the best meatball sandwich in 9 worlds!!! Of course that was a treat but the “gravy grinders” were so affordable we couldn’t pass!!
    I can still see Louie stirring that huge pot of gravy!!
    I want to thank the Nistico Family for their support of not only my career but for every athlete in Saugatuck/Westport.
    Wish I could make that reunion…..Thanks a million!!!!

  14. Ditto, Mike. The Nisticos were the kings of Saugatuck — and the Red Barn is better than ever. I love that old Arrow placemat. Notice that the placemat shows the Arrow’s address as “Saugatuck, CT”, not Westport. Thanks to the Nisticos and the Arrow — and the RR sign that read “Westport & Saugatuck” — the world knew that Saugatuck was more than just a Post Office; it was, and is again, a community..

  15. yep, hot summer nights after little league, straight to the Arrow for dinner!
    Thanks for the place mat, it really jolted my memory, wish I could be there!

  16. Always loved the Arrow antd the Nisticos where else could you enjoy a great meal and learn how to handicap the ponies? Doug Deakin

  17. I was a salad girl in the mid 80s and had a run for a while at busing but the floor was to hectic for me, so beat a prompt retreat back to the stainless steel safety of the salad station. There, I crancked out salad after salad, made pitchers of house salad dressing (that recipe is what I use in my own house today I might add), plated up tortufo’s, healthy portions of cheese cake, took to go orders, and ruined one white t shirt after another. That was my first real pay check job, and I learned a lot from the Nistico family about hard work, having fun on the job, and the importance of customer service. Today, I am a therapist but I still remember that job as one of my favorites job of all time.

  18. WoW ! The Arrow great memories dishwasher 67-69 first job 3.25/hr ,lessons learned there have lasted a life time,Frank hired me and told me if I work Sunday’s he would serve up a meal if I got there early,he always did.My favorites were a Porterhouse or a world famous meatball sandwich. Big Louie tearing a loaf of bread ripping out the middle and stuffing it with meatballs and sauce and saying eat then get to stirring those pots for the pasta.The little extras really help make a happy employee.All have a cold one and salute to the Arrrow and Nistico Family .Great Memories .

  19. Joanne Lupton

    My mother (Helen Jones) stepfather (Bob Jones) brother (Bob Lupton) and I (Joanne Lupton) probably ate at the Arrow once a week during the 60’s . Our mother owned the Cheese Shop at the Station. The antipasto was wonderful, I can still to this day visualize it on the plate with the vinegar and oil glass decanters with stoppers. The meat sauce on the pasta was terrific, as was the filet mignon. We always had bisc tortoni for dessert — in that little fluted paper cup. When I went back for the Staples Class of ’62 reunion and the Arrow wasn’t there I was so disappointed but so glad to go to the Red Barn for dinner. I learned only later on what a tremendous contribution Lou Nistico made to the education of so many people in Westport. Joanne (Lupton)

  20. Another prank on the rookies, in addition to going to the texaco for “steam”…..go out and water the plants in the restaurant which were fake! Also, when taking the garbage out to the dumpster, you coul expect to get beaned in the head with a few meatballs

  21. Our Staples ’76 Football team would eat there the night before every game. Nistico’s would pick up the tab. We went undefeated, state champions that year. That tells you how good their food was.

    A few weeks after the Championship game I took a girlfriend to dinner there. The waiter came out after dinner and said “It’s on Lou”. Awesome.

    Thanks Nistico’s!

  22. it was not that good.