As Mel Mioli and I chatted yesterday afternoon about the imminent relocation of Westport Pizzeria to 143 Post Road East, we remembered the many Main Street businesses that his narrow restaurant outlasted.
We didn’t chat about chain stores. Our trip down memory lane was all about the “real” stores that — once upon a time — defined downtown.
All of these places existed during the 45 years Westport Pizzeria has been a Main Street mainstay:
- Achorn’s Pharmacy
- Bill’s Smoke Shop
- Charles Market
- Chez Pierre
- Charles of the Ritz Hair Salon
- County Barber Shop
- Dorain’s Drug Store
- Klein’s Department Store
- Liquor Locker
- Mark’s Place
- Remarkable Book Shop
- Sally’s Place
- Selective Eye
- Sloane’s Furniture
- Soup’s On
- Sport Mart
- Swezey’s Jewelers
- Westport Food Center
- Welch’s Hardware
And that’s just off the top of our heads.
Mel and I came up with the name of just one Main Street non-chain business that was there in 1968, and still remains. In fact, it started out a few doors down, a couple of decades before Mel and Joe Mioli opened their pizzeria.
Congratulations, Oscar’s! You’re the last of a great bunch left on Main Street.
Adding to the list of those departed
The Cheese Shop
World of Cheese
Forgot Greenberg’s. Great for all kinds of clothes, patterns for actually making your own clothes! Imagine that!
Shhh it helps to own your building… Lee is a genius!!!
One of my favorites was the World of Cheese, with Harry Friedman, the owner.:-)
AND, my Dad’s store, Jewels By Jason in the iconic Main Street building with the gambrel roof and the eagle on the front….
Before 45 years ago There was an Economy Grocery on south side of main, and another grocery across st I worked at both around 55. Also a gristede’s up the street. And the original ice cream parlor. Etc.
Atticus Book Store & Café
Greenberg’s Department Store. And I’d categorize Klein’s as a stationery store — I loved that place.
Diana, after it was a stationery store it called itself a department store. They sold cameras, records, books, office supplies and furniture, toys. I never thought “department store” fit, but they did.
Ha! Interesting, thanks! Diana
Is Angelo still behind the counter at Oscar’s?
My late husband’s hair Salon….Louis Hair Salon
The African Room
Rachna of India
New England Jewelers
How about Welsh’s Hardware?
And there were two Chinese restaurants– Little Kitchen and another whose name I’ve forgotten.
Carl, I think you’re thinking of Westlake. Golden House was in Compo Shopping Center — near (or in the same location) of Little Kitchen now.
You forgot Westport Hardware. It’s now on the Post Road across from Terrain, the must-go destination for out-of-towners!
Does the long-gone Country Squire restaurant, which was on the now-fashionable backside of Main Street, qualify?
We included County Barber Shop (underneath Remarkable Book Shop, entrance off Parker Harding), so my vote is “yes.”
It seems that “Progress is our Most Important Product”
Actually, it seems that the greedy landlords simply sell out to the highest bidder.
I know it is not Main Street but let’s add Great Cakes.
Would you rather work hard for a living or just make a big buck today and sell the property.
If you are a renter you automatically have a greedy partner.
I suppose most success stories in town own and do not rent.
Steve, in my Great Cakes story a couple of days ago, Rick Dickinson went out of his way to praise his landlord. I quoted Rick: His landlord “reduced the rent as much as possible. ‘They know what it’s like — they owned a bakery themselves,’ he says.”
A few more: Zwerdlings Bakery, Marvel’s, Colgan’s Pharmacy, Grey’s Pharmacy, Ship’s Lantern, Ben Franklin, Hartman Hardware, Westport Food Center, McMillan Jewelry, Town and Country Shoes,Townly Restaurant, A&P, a camera store next to Country Gal (can’t remember the name), Shilepsky’s, Party Barn, and more.
Thanks, Barbara. Some of these, however, were not still around in 1968 — the year Mel and Joe opened Westport Pizzeria. That was the starting point when Mel and I talked. And Ship’s Lantern was actually on the Post Road — we were talking about Main Street specifically, not all of downtown.
There was a shoe store on Main Street. Also a fabric store and I think a Woolworth’s but anyway a “5 and 10 Cent” store. There was a bakery next to where the Westport Cinema (another one!) used to be. The lady would always give each child a cookie. And there was a Chinese restaurant at the corner of Post Road and Main Street. My late sister Catherine and her friends climbed the tree outside the restaurant one evening and waved at the people inside. Police were called!!! She was 15 or so. Nothing happened (they did call our parents!). Ah, memories.
Of course, Greenberg’s!!! They sold clothes AND fabric and patterns. The shoe store was across from them. And yes, Klein’s started out as a stationery store. Then they added books, then Sally I think (records!) and the cameras etc. Just reading all these is great. Thank you!!
Dan, Thank you and I did read your Great Cakes article. I submit that Rick’s story may be one of a few isolated cases but speaking to the grand majority, I believe to stand correct. I suggest that you look back to when you were a boy and so many of the old icons of the day were not rented but in fact owned buildings. Just sayin’! Rick might of praised his landlord but the landlord in fact did not keep Rick. Many sides to each story?? And, the new grilled cheese store next to Great Cakes seemed to of been able to agree on a rent!!??!! Again, just sayin’. Enjoy the Drug Bowl … oops … I mean the SUPER BOWL.
What was the name of that GROOVY store just south of Dorrain’s, NEAR THE LIBRARY…the London Connection no, that’s not it…purveyor of “mod” clothes, once the rage had disappeared? The name was in my head ten minutes ago…Remember Sally Hunter’s Record shop at Klein’s?
Hey Wyatt, was the clothing store called Liverpool? And it was Sally White who ran the record department at Klein’s. She later opened her own store, Sally’s Place, which closed just a few months ago.
But calling her Sally Hunter made me think of the Record Hunter — Jay Flaxman’s great store next to Remarkable Book Shop. Which, for some reason, made me think of the Functional Clothing used jeans store. I can’t imagine a used ANYTHING shop on Main Street today!
What was the name of the Mexican restaurant downtown? Around where Acqua is? Maybe it was on the other side if the tunnel? But there was one on Main.
Yes, Pancho Villas. We had all the Mexican revolutionaries covered. The Bedford Jr. High Spanish classes used to walk there for a meal/field-trip.
Danny dont forget the country gal Platypus
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There was a restaurant in the Acqua space called Fat Tuesday’s at one point. I remember the pizzaria well from high school – a couple of slices and a Coke were affordable. I remember once being there with Phil Gambaccini and smoking cigars while eating pizza. He dared me to blow cigar smoke into my Coke and then drink it. I’m not going to say what happened next other than “don’t do it.”
Rico’s Hair Salon — did someone mention that one? Also County Federal was a local bank, right? Boy I miss those days sometimes – simpler times and yes, I know– that really grinds some people’s gears to read that but so be it. It was a town that had it all — Main Street was so fun in those days.
Yes Dan! That was it!! Pancho Villas!! They had awesome homemade tortilla chips. We used to get them in a big paper bag and walk around town eating them or pick some up to bring home!!
Howard Hartmann’s Hardware (right next to the Mobil station) was on Main Street until the early 70’s. My dad owned it.
Dan, Gray’s Drug Store, next to the Westlake may have closed just before Westport Pizzeria opened, because I believe the Pizzeria’s counter was the former soda fountain at Grays. I was a short order cook there in the mid to late 1940s. I sent you a photo of it last year.
The was a men’s store on the east side of Main Street when I moved here in 1983. I think it may have been called Willow & Tweed, but I’m not sure. Was it there in 1968?
Maybe it was Hickory and Tweed.
Town and Tweed.
Danish Hearth !
Felix Kozak’s was a small men’s clothing store just up the street from Dorain’s Drug Store. I recall going in there when the son, a high school student at the time would be working on Saturdays. I believe he now manages the Men’s Department at Richards, the Mitchell Family of Stores Greenwich outpost.
Also, either before or after Atitcus Bookshop/Cafe, the site (Simon Pierce now) was a swanky cafe/fine foods place called Cristada’s. Lasted about 2 years.
I still wear a few things that have Feliz Kozak labels. Not sure if that is a compliment to them or a statement about me…
I never thought that Oscar’s could get the beauty-parlor smell out of the space that had been Charles of the Ritz, but they did it! And quickly.
Town and Tweed…
The Linen Closet was my dad’s store. I remember opening day in 1954. I was so excited and proud of my dad, Herbert Gladstein. He sold his business in 1982 when he retired and moved to Florida. My dad passed away this past summer, one week short of his 97th birthday.
Functional Clothing, downstairs from Sweezy`s
Someone told me recently who the owners of the men’s store to the left of where banana were. Their kids are still in town they said. Can’t remember the name of the store either. Anyone? Don’t forget Gristedis,and Greenberg’s…Westport Hardware, Pack Roads. And Ann Taylor has been here a long time…before 72…was Westport the flagship? Dress Box, Westport Travel, Plumed Serpent, all I think were there in 68 and on Main Street.
The clothing store Towne & Tweede.
Party Barn- another much missed Main Street shop! Amazing how things change, thanks for always making sure Westporters (old & new!) don’t forget these things.
how about Pack Roads–with a beautiful location backing onto the water and Gorhams’Island and did anyone mention Trudy Garys . After living on long island (n.y.) those two stores represented all i had read about Fairfield County—very ivy leaguy
Not quite Main St. but in the same vein – Downtown – There was Schaeffer’s sports store at the end of the street next to Max’s, and Ship’s Corner restaurant next to them.
The clothing store was Town and Tweed men’s clothing. There was a Texaco next to the Christian Science Reading room (gone) and the Tack Room (gone, back, and gone again).
Not sure when this store was on main street, but there was a fur store I believe across from Oscar’s in the 80’s. The gentleman that owned that, has wound up here in Alabama and opened a fur store down here…you all can stop laughing now…we do get cold weather down here too!
Margarita de Santis – I remember many of the places mentioned – good memories – also back in the 50’s there was a pet shop on Main St. toward the Post Rd. end & at the opposite end was a record store (near Gristede’s) that had sound-proof booth’s where you could play your selection. Yes, I think the Ann Taylor shop was their first – I had worked there in the summer.
Was the record store called Melody House? That’s where Sally White first worked. I don’t remember it, but have heard quite a bit about it.
Hartmann’s Hardware…..I worked there in 67-68. Bill Betts was the owner, a great guy.
What was located in that mess of a building where all the Gaps now reside? I seem to recall that a fire destroyed the building that was there prior.
It was a furniture store. Burned to the ground in the mid-1970s. Then came that vertical “mall” that never worked.
Sam Sloat Coins used to be next to Bill’s Smoke Shop.
great I remember when
The furniture shop was an outlet for W&J Sloane, I think. And no one has mentioned Peck & Peck or Walkers’ Frame shop.