Positano’s Beach House

The news that Positano’s may close — and become a beachfront home — elicited plenty of comments on “06880.”

Readers spoke of the restaurant in glowing terms. Some thought of its long-ago, long-running predecessor, Cafe de la Plage.

But in between those 2 spots, there was — briefly — a restaurant called the Beach House.

Loretta Hallock sent along a painting by Tony Marino. The Westport artist loved Westport scenes. This one captures beautifully the charm of the restaurant, the neighborhood, and the “off-season.”

Beach House - Tony Marino


14 responses to “Positano’s Beach House

  1. We’ll be devastated if Positano’s becomes a residence. What we are in desperate need of in this town and surrounding towns are restaurants on the water. Seafood restaurants to be specific…with outdoor seating.
    I pray it doesn’t become a residence for one, but a ‘residence’ for many so that we may ALL continue to enjoy the gorgeous views over LI Sound which Positano’s allowed us all these years.

  2. Sherri Wolfgang

    I am curious to know if anyone remembers “Grubs”?
    That was the (so called) convenience store that is now El Viras.
    When I was a kid in that neighborhood, Grub would have soda. Literally one can of each– Coke, Pepsi…
    And he would blow the dust off a can of the soda you chose!!

  3. When I was a boy of 7 – we Summered in a house near Old Mill. On many nights we’d play capture the flag on Old Mill Beach under the stars. I remember vividly, going to the side/kitchen door of Cafe de la Plage and getting garlic bread – dripping with butter and garlic in a paper bag – that the cooks gave us with big smiles. That memory is indelibly etched in my mind and always brings smiles to mind – as one of my favorite childhood memories.

  4. I remember Grubs as well. We were terrible. I mean – Kenny Washington was “grubby” but he left something like $500K to the YMCA for the children of Westport. We used to make fun of his lumbering doer disposition. While he wasn’t the friendliest guy – his legacy is shining.

    • That’s Ken Montgomery, not Washington. And my junior high friends and I were terrible to him too. On the other hand, the half-inch or so of dust on food that would have been long past its sell-by date (if that existed back then) was a bit gross.

  5. Joseph Thanhauser

    It’d be interesting to learn why Positano was thwarted in its wish to have outside tables. That piece of land is a unique spot that is accessible to everyone; converting it to a private residence would be taking one more prominent visible property out of circulation.

    • The “patio” they proposed to use for their outdoor dining was the subject of a cease and desist / removal order back in c. 2000 (it was located not on their property but rather Old Mill Beach itself – town owned land, as it appears the building is located right up against their property line on the back side) and instead of complying over the years, they sought permission last year to operate outdoor seating there, and offered to lease that portion of Old Mill Beach occupied by their illegal patio from the town. Many neighbors objected (raising legitimate noise and parking concerns), and the precedent of allowing a landowner to ignore an order to remove an encroaching structure from town land and reward them for their refusal with permission to use it, along with the precedent of allowing a business to lease a portion of beach for business purposes, all combined to result in a rejection of that request by the P&Z. I am not familiar with a rejection of their request to install french doors to the beachfront as was mentioned in the earlier Positano’s post, that might not have even been in front of the P&Z Commission.

      That P&Z vote had nothing to do with whether the members like the restaurant or its importance to the local community – in fact I have been eating there with some frequency ever since I first went to Cafe de la Plage on a date with my high school girlfriend in 1981.

    • Evidently the restaurant is not viable economically. The changes the operators sought to make it viable were not allowed by the P&Z. Now the restaurant is experiencing economic duress and might close, and “no one” (at least almost no one) wants another mansion occupied by a hedge fund manager to appear on the site. What did the P&Z and Don Bergman think would happen when the request for outdoor facilities was rejected ?

      If the restaurant cannot survive without access to town owned land, maybe it should not exist. But, the town and the P&Z have seen fit to try and make a worthless house (Gunn) a viable economic entity by slipping town owned land under it. The town is giving away town owned land (Baron’s South) so a commercial developer can build housing for senior citizens. There are precedents for giving away town owned land for commercial entities, why not a restaurant?

  6. I think, at one point, there was briefly a restaurant at this location – it was named “San Francisco” or something like that. It was late 70s or so. My mom saw Bette Davis there.

  7. Would be ashame to lose a local beautiful gathering spot on the water. My mom (Staples ’38) loved our occasional lunches there. I think the outdoor tables should be re-examined to retain this wonderful oasis

  8. Gene, i remember those Capture the Flag games, with the big rock in front of the Cafe de la Plage as home base.

  9. Loretta Santella Hallock

    We called him Kenny. I remember him being very nice to me and he loved my kids. The store did have a bad smell when you walked in.We only bought candy and ice cream that was wrapped. Kenny saved all his money and as we all know left it to the YMCA. I still think of it as Kenny’s store. I will sure miss walking by Positano’s which I still think of as Cafe De La Plage.

  10. Eric Buchroeder SHS '70

    My mother used to tell me she wished I wouldn’t eat anything from there. She stopped short of forbidding it, but the sentiment was clear.