Positano’s To Change Hands — And More?

An Old Mill area resident writes:

My husband and I are devastated over rumors that Positano’s will be sold to a developer from Greenwich, to become a residential home.

I’m not sure how many people know that the wonderful owners of this restaurant fought to have 3 tables of outdoor seating a few years ago, but were denied due to a very few uptight neighbors. This devastated the owners.

Most of us in this area love them, and Positano’s. Having a restaurant on the beach in Westport is truly magical, even a necessity.

The number of marriage proposals that I’ve seen take place at Positano’s is a testament to the beauty of the space.

Positano's, on Hillspoint Road near Elvira's.

Positano’s, on Hillspoint Road near Elvira’s.

I can’t believe there aren’t more options for both food and festivities on the Sound. I have heard wonderful stories about Allen’s Clam House (now the Sherwood Mill Pond preserve).

Splash will now be the only water view restaurant on the Sound.

Today, I called Positano’s to track down the rumor. A representative said he could not confirm the potential sale, for a private residence. He said, however, they would “probably” move by the end of the year.

22 responses to “Positano’s To Change Hands — And More?

  1. Very few people know that the building is actually owned by the former owner of Angelina’s Restaurant (recently sold). He retired and moved to…Greenwich

  2. Westport cannot afford the loss of a place like Positano at the beach. Another residence is not what we need to help maintain the vitality of Compo.

  3. We ate at Positano once, many years ago. The food was wonderful, but the noise was deafening. We never went back.

  4. What a loss this will be. I remember when it was Cafe de la Plage. Would be great to see another restaurant but with present day value of land and scale of the site, the numbers probably just do not work for such a small restaurant. Don’t know the details of how Allen’s was converted to public space but maybe same opportunity would exist here?

  5. Valerie DiPrato

    Oh my gosh – that would be awful – I can see the “private
    property” signs already. The neighborhood has already changed enough – to the exclusion of the neighbors that made it the neighborhood in the first place. We are all in to channel Allen Raymond and save this space for our town and our future generations.

  6. One of my favorite restaurants…classy, good food, great staff, very sorry to hear this.

  7. My little sister got married there when it was called The Beach House. I guess they will not be able to have anniversary dinners there anymore.

  8. So typical…NOW everyone is sad to see it go. But no one stepped up when he was trying to make it a great restaurant. The Zoning Board wouldn’t allow the owner to put in operable French doors looking out to the beach because they were afraid of “noise” (even though there are no homes on either side of the building). Then they refused to let him rent the upstairs as an apartment which it had been for years, to supplement his income. When he applied for a permit that would allow patrons to take their cocktails around back while waiting for their table he was nearly crucified. So he was left to operate a beach restaurant with no views of the water in an economically infeasible, poorly designed building with a vacant second story. I am surprised he lasted this long!

  9. I have to agree with Jeff. The restaurant can only survive if people go there and he’s able to provide the experience they want. Otherwise, like Cafe de la Plage before it, it won’t stay. Check out the results to the poll done here back when they wanted to put in the outdoor seating. The readers of 06880 were pretty much split on the issue.

  10. I am glad this story has now broken. My understanding from the manager of Positano’s, Joe Scarpatti, a terrific guy, is that, as of 1/1/15, his rent will be raised significantly by the property owner and Joe believes he cannot successfully operate with the new rent. That rent increase would seem to tie into the talk I have heard that the property may be sold to a builder for a house. My rumor mill tells me it is a local builder, possibly right in the Old Mill Beach neighborhood. One could also speculate that houses next to Positano could also be part of a transaction, but that is just pure speculation. A restaurant at Old Mill Beach has long been a positive, notwithstanding some parking and traffic issues. A house there would be truly boring. I will be doing what I can to “save a restaurant”.
    Don Bergmann

  11. Caroline Iannucci

    Don, thanks for stepping up to try to save this property and keep a restaurant there. We live in the neighborhood and just after our second son was born it was so nice to have a local restaurant we could walk to leaving little ones just a couple blocks away with grandparents babysitting. A home, which would surely be as Valerie described, would change the complete vibe of the neighborhood. My kids call that whole area “little beach” and to see a hoouse looming over it would be so sad. Please let us know what we can do to help not only preserve it but to also improve it (ie outdoor seating, etc).

  12. Robert Fatherley

    Another sad story of special places in Westport disappearing. I am still recovering from the demise of Max’s Art Store.

    How many more houses do we really need…especially on the waterfront where privately owned controls the view whereas a restaurant shares with many from various parts of the town and Fairfield County our magnificent vistas as they enjoy a good meal and quiet conversation and view magnificent sunsets and water birds.

    Julie Fatherley

  13. Sharon Paulsen

    I had a client lunch there awhile back, and the food was tremendous! There was only one other table occupied and seemed a shame that it was so slow. Granted, it’s not a mainstream location, but I do recall that Allen’s Clamhouse was frequently stuffed to the gills, especially for dinner.
    I personally think that having a summertime crowd enjoying outdoor dining would be a lovely backdrop to this cozy little area of the beach. If I were a resident there, I would enjoy the sound of pleasant chatter, plates and glasses clinking, and all things of summer sounds and people outdoors.
    This would indeed be very boring if it becomes a residence. And, it just doesn’t seem that this property would lend itself well to being a home.
    Such a shame if that’s what will happen.

  14. While Compo Beach without a doubt the best town beach in all of Connecticut, the surrounding area is kind of a dud.

    If Elvira’s and Positano’s is as good as it gets and you think that’s good, you’ve clearly never visited Rowayton.

    I guess Positano’s will be a loss – I always found it to be way too closed in for something right on the shore – it might have just as well been downtown or in one of the many strip malls on the Post Road.

    Allen’s was the true loss – but the well heeled neighbors did everything in their power to make sure it couldn’t be saved so they’d have their peace and quiet and some extra special water views. How precious.

    So this place will go, it will become another Hedge Fund Manager’s home, we’ll have a convenience store and nothing more.

  15. Quite a contrast between the comment of now and then… http://06880danwoog.com/2012/06/10/positanos-patio/

  16. Oh, don’t tell me! Positano has been part of our tradition since our children were small. They loved to play on the beach and we watched them through Positano’s windows until calling them in and shaking the sand off outside the door so that they were presentable indoors. Joe’s kids and ours have grown up and now we see his handsome son and lovely daughter contributing in the restaurant and we compare notes about their next steps,college etc. We have witnessed weddings there and we have been there often for Sunday lunch and for many special occasions-birthdays, First Communions, anniversaries, and family gatherings after sad events, too. The staff always have been wonderful and attentive to our needs. Even our far-flung friends who come every Thanksgiving think of a meal at Positano’s on Compo Beach as a traditional stop in Westport. If this really happens, a precious piece of community at the beach will be lost!

  17. Some follow up. Positano did want to expand with some outdoor seating. I supported it as lunch and late afternoon eating. When Joe and his land use consultant changed the plan to include dinner, I opposed the dinner concept due to the noise at night. As to the use of the second story, I do not know the details. The property is non conforming, but our ZBA is usually quite liberal as to variances. If it could be used, that financial benefit would need to flow to the restaurant in some way. As to Allen’s, I am sure many have their own perspectives, with only one being that some wealthy people determined the outcome. The original plan was to build several houses. That was of course prevented and volunteers, Sherry Jagerson, Liz Milwe and many others, created the park, with Sherry being the key person now maintaining it.
    Don Bergmann

    • Nice about face, Don. In the end, it’s all about good intentions and unintended consequences isn’t it?

  18. Amy Saperstein

    Generations of our family have enjoyed positanos as part of our summer traditions. We always wondered why there wasn’t outdoor seating or open doors to the beach but we still loved the food and ambiance! Please let us know if we can do anything to help keep this Westport gem!

  19. Great opportunity for the town! Buy it, While we are at it buy those two little houses on the island by the mill gates .