Red Barn — Revisited

Last week — based on a phone call to the Red Barn — I reported that the rumors of the restaurant’s closing were wrong.

I said — based on what I’d been told — that the kitchen was being revamped. New ovens and a natural gas hookup were on the way. Re-opening was set for today (Wednesday, July 8).

A number of readers suggested — publicly and privately — that I was wrong.

A woman said that one of the owners called to tell her that her group’s annual luncheon — held every year in late July — would not happen, because the restaurant had been sold.

A salesperson described going to the Red Barn at midday to pick up a check. No renovation work was underway. In fact, no one was there at all.

Red Barn painting

I called this afternoon — the day I was told they’d reopen. The phone rang and rang and rang. Finally, I hung up.

Just in case, I checked the website.

It still touts itself as “a unique, rustic place for your next event or function.”

But even more prominently, it still advertises its Mother’s Day specials.

Meanwhile, the Westport Family Y — which everyone in Westport thinks has bought the property, though no real estate transaction has been filed — is not talking either.

The out-of-date (and strangely dark) Red Barn website.

The out-of-date (and strangely dark) Red Barn website.

  

 

58 responses to “Red Barn — Revisited

  1. Bobbie Herman

    Oh, No!

  2. BEATUS, CARYL

    DAN – PLEASE SAY IT ISN’T SO – WESTPORT HAS ALREADY LOST SO MUCH OF IT’S LEGENDARY SELF – I’M AN OLD-TIMER -THIS MAKES ME VERY SAD. RICHARD, I’M SO SORRY . . .GOOD LUCK

  3. It is always sad to see a restaurant close, specially a Westport icon like the Red Barn…
    For groups who had lunches/dinners planned at the Red Barn, I would like to offer our restaurant Kibberia Mediterranean as an alternative. We would love to have you. We are located at 361 Post Road West on the Westport/Norwalk border, the old John’s Best Pizza. We offer healthy and fresh Mediterranean food, beer and wine, and have the ability to seat in excess of 100 people.

  4. If this is the end, I want to thank the Nisticos for the great family atmosphere they provided all of these years and I wish them all the best.

  5. Nancy Powers Conklin

    My husband’s 50th, Andrew Warde High School, Class Reunion was scheduled to have a Brunch at the Red Barn on Sunday, Sept. 20th of this year. I wonder if the committee is even aware of what is going on. So sad.

  6. Nick, Kibberia Mediterranean will never replace what the Nisticos gave to Westport for four generations. Its appalling that you’d take this occasion to advertise yourself.

    • Willy, I disagree. Nick has been here for a year or two. He never misses a chance to provide excellent food for any group or organization that asks. He is, in fact, following in the Nisticos’ tradition that way (though he has several decades to catch up to them). He is simply offering (with my encouragement) an option for any group that needs space for a gathering. There are other spots in Westport that can accommodate them — but not many restaurants are open to having large groups, like the Red Barn did. Kibberia is one that does.

    • john Hooper

      Willy, I didn’t take it as offensive either. I sounded to me like he was trying to provide a solution after deferring to is iconic status.

    • Tracy Flood

      Ditto

      • Tracy Flood

        My ditto was meant to say I thought was in poor taste to advertise Kibberia. Apples and oranges at the very least.

        • Jamie Walsh

          To know Nick is to love Nick and Kibberia. He is a kind man with a wonderful family who live and contribute to our community. Like the Nistico’s he cares about Westport. Yes the food is different, but I know he was sincere and well meaning…not a person who is looking to capitalize on other people’s misfortune.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      I’m not sure why you consider Nick’s offer as some kind of grievous offense. The demise of places such as Red Barn, Marios, 3 Bears, Peppermill, etc… is just the face of change that none of us can ever hold back. Consumer dollars demonstrate what people want, and if occasional celebrations cannot sustain this establishment, and the family has an offer from the Y that is more compelling, I’d expect a more upbeat thanks to the family for what they’ve provided over the years, and an open attitude to the alternatives that are now available, rather than slinging ire online.

      Kibberia may be newer and have a modern style compared to the older gravitas like Red Barn, but as Dan says, it’s a space that can accommodate larger groups and offers fiercely delicious food.

  7. Evan Stein

    they were on a bank foreclosure list and auction block late last year. At the time, they issued a statement that it was a big misunderstanding. Unfortunately, perhaps it didn’t work out the way they hoped.

  8. Sharon Paulsen

    Childhood memories, adulthood memories! The place is an icon, and just seeing that familiar sign from the Merritt makes me feel all warm ‘n cozy inside.
    Well, I hope it isn’t true, but … guess times are-a-chang’in.
    I haven’t been there since 2006, but it feels like yesterday.
    Good luck to the owners, if they move onward!

    BTW,I think it was very cool, and a sincere reach-out from the Mediterranean restaurant folks! They sound like good people who probably run a feel-good and smart business.
    The restaurant biz is basically a service biz, so offering up solutions to the local crowd, in the way that they did, is very good.

  9. T. Mitchell

    It’s fine to be sad about the closing of a restaurant that has been around forever but it is also necessary to be realistic about whether the restaurant had seen its better days come and go. Just because it’s an institution doesn’t mean it should stay open forever if it no longer is getting the job done in the eyes of those it served. It was time…..

  10. I moved from the area in 2005, missing a few restaurants but mostly The Three Bears and now Red Barn. Came for a visit and found the place where my husband proposed, Three Bears, had closed. Very sad. Now this. I had been planning on moving back to the area, but now, I don’t think so. I know that change is inevitable, change is good, but there comes a point where there is something wonderful in the balance of old and new. Seems like Westport has lost it’s charm. Sad. If the Red Barn had indeed been foreclosed upon, it would have been wonderful if someone could have helped them, saved it.

  11. If The Red Barn has served it’s last meal that is sad, but inevitable in my humble opinion. I grew up down the road from it and the Three Bears…. Neither ever had rave reviews, they were tired and folk lore held venues. They have been present but not kept up to culinary levels of the discerning Westporter… They should of taken a page out of D’villes… Or even The Black Duck… Tweaking, revamping, and keeping an eye to the future always has to be part of a business plan

    • Or even Cobb’s Mill Inn in Weston -don’t forget about Cobb’s Mill, one of our last-standing icons! This is where our real estate reps brought us to lunch in 1989 when we came from California to see our home (Banks Tavern) for the very first time. Brilliant P.R. on their part as they were aware that there are those who want to be in Fairfield County, in great part, because of its New Englandness: namely, its history. So places like the Silvermine Tavern or The Three Bears or the Red Barn or even The Clam Mansion, Georgetown Saloon or Marios, for that matter, bring an unmistakably charming characteristic to the area that sadly, looks like it’s beginning to fade away…

      • Michael Wolfe

        Wait a minute…your real estate agent brought you to lunch when you were house shopping? Ours sent us a Christmas tree…after we spent an afternoon with her touring the local synagogues. Woops.

        • BEATUS, CARYL

          THAT’S THE MOST RIDICULOUS BROKER OOPS STORIES I’VE HEARD IN A LONG TIME

          • True story, Caryl. Quite the surprise when it arrived. We never said anything, a gift is a gift, but still…

            We would have been more than happy to have had lunch at the Red Barn (well, maybe not now…).

    • Tweaking didn’t do much for The Redding Roadhouse, however.

  12. It seems to me the appropriate thing to do is for the Nistico’s to publicly set the record straight.

  13. Werner liepolt

    Sad to see a restaurant close. But infuriating to learn they had outstanding commitments that they didn’t honor like gift certificates and group contracts… That certainly besmirches the memory of the Dressing Room, the Red Barn, and others.

  14. Sharon Paulsen

    Well, foreclosures aren’t pretty, and if that’s what they are having to face, then I wouldn’t necessarily count on the owners to honor “coupons” or “pre-arranged gatherings”. Not cool, of course, but … be prepared folks.

    And, I have to agree a bit with T. Mitchell – it just may be “time” for them to close up. Perhaps they hung on just a little too long, so instead of closing up with a bit of dignity, they’re just staying out of the limelight.

    I do feel nostalgic for losses of other establishments too, as other posters have mentioned.

    Kind of feels like Tavern on Main (Chez Pierre) might be one of the “last men standing”?

    Good field work here Dan!

  15. Sharon Paulsen

    ooops – correction/addition to my latest comment – I didnt mean to discount Dunville’s or The Duck when I said the ‘ol Chez Pierre/Tavern on Main spot was the “last man standing”.

    Kind of forgot my roots for a moment, lol!

    Plus, you guys still have Oscar’s, Gold’s!! Hmmm, who else? Coffee ‘an? And the hot dog place on Riverside? And Viva’s, right?

    Well, there it is.

    Now, a really good, kick butt, seafood joint (sit down, near the water) would really be a smart move for a coastal town like Westport. And I’m talking “casual/rustic/Cape Cod”, newspapers on the table, messy, butter drenched wonderfulness, of the freshest seafood available. Sea-To-Table, I say. We have plenty of Farm-To-Table options manifesting.

    A nod to Westfair for amazing reviews of their seafood. Maybe those guys should “expand” to fit the aforementioned idea??
    🙂

  16. Ah, Chez Pierre with the creaky floor! So wonderfully worldly!

  17. Wendy Cusick

    Junior’s Deli and Grille 265 Riverside Ave Has a new owner Eric J awesome food and staff. Does Catering for Large groups at your choice of Location. Give him and staff a call 203-227-9803 he might be able to help some of you with events? Facebook-Junior’s Deli and Grille Westport, CT

  18. I have had some of the best food and best memories ever at the Red Barn with countless showers and get togethers over the years mostly at their legendary and classy buffets. Best Osso Bucco I have ever had. Good luck to the Y and to the Nistico Family as all are pillars of our community.

  19. Chris Grimm

    As with the closing of the restaurant by Saugatuck Station, I would presume that an owner is not going to say the business is imminently closing until every single detail is ironed out, every contract signed.

    While it may seem misleading, saying “we’re open/remodeling/whatever” before a deal is a 100% sure thing, it assures continued customers if the deal falls through, until the deal goes through, and improves leverage with the people with whom the deal is being negotiated.

  20. Bob O'Mahony

    Anyone know the oldest running restaurant in Westport?

    • BEATUS, CARYL

      CHEZ PIERRE OPENED IN 1958. PRIOR TO THAT IT WAS THE ICE CREAM PARLOR LEASED TO HARRISON (CAN’T REMEMBER HIS FIRST NAME). THE ORIGINAL ICE CREAM PARLOR WAS FOUNDED BY BOB BEACH, I THINK IN THE 1940’s. VIVA OPENED AFTER CHEZ PIERRE. I’LL CHECK WITH JOE MIOLI RE THE WESTPORT PIZZERIA.

  21. Bob-I don’t know but my guess would be Wesport Pizzeria.

  22. If the Red Barn is indeed closed for good I wish all the best to the Nistico family. Wednesday nights at The Arrow restaurant were a family tradition while I was growing up and the quality of their food and especially service are still the standard by which I judge family restaurants.

  23. BEATUS, CARYL

    JUST SPOKE WITH JOE MIOLI. HE STARTED THE WESTPORT PIZZERIA IN 1968 – TEN YEARS AFTER PIERRE NELLI OPENED CHEZ PIERRE WITH SPONSORSHIP FROM THE ORIGINAL FAMOUS ARTISTS.
    PIERRE HAD BEEN A MALE MODEL

    • Chez Pierre is long gone. It’s been Tavern on Main for probably 2 decades at least.

      • I’m pretty sure Gold’s opened in the 1950s. And didn’t Oscar’s open pre-1960?

        • True for both. But they’re really delis — not “restaurants.” Looks like Westport Pizzeria is the oldest sit-down-and-order-dinner-from-a-menu restaurant in town.

          • Part 2: Oscar’s pre-dates Gold’s. And it used to be in a smaller spot on Main Street — was it where Westport Pizzeria stood for so many years?!

            • BEATUS, CARYL

              OSCARS AND BILL’S SMOKE SHOP WERE SIDE BY SIDE. WESTPORT PIZZERIA WENT INTO OSCAR’S SPACE. BILL’S SMOKE SHOP MOVED TO BROOKS CORNER . . .

              TRUE CHEZ PIERRE WAS SUPERCEDED BY TAVERN ON MAIN BUT THE PREMISES REMAINED THE SAME DECOR

            • Gary Singer

              And who can forget the “help-yourself” pickle barrel in front of Oscar’s
              counter. And Oscar Siskin, smoking a large cigar while filling orders was
              perfectly OK in “the day”.

  24. Viva’s opened the year after Westport Pizzeria…

  25. Barbara Agar

    Is there any more information?

    Have a wonderful day! Date: Wed, 8 Jul 2015 18:00:39 +0000 To: barbaraagar@hotmail.com

  26. On my earlier comment above (5th from the top); I’ll say again to advertise other venues while the corpse of the Red Barn is still warm (and facts unknown, but speculated on) is in poor taste. One would have thought this chain of comments to be more commemorative.

  27. Hey Dan Woog……………….I have been around these parts all my life. I would love to see the Red Barn revived. You have a powerful voice……..can you help? I feel the same way about TheThree Bears. Obviously they need re-invention ……But they were once unique and awesome places. Surely they can be revived ?

  28. Sharon Paulsen

    Lee’s information about Viva’s sparked another memory/question for me:
    Wasn’t there a Mexican restaurant in the downtown/Main Street location of what I recall is probably still Aqua now? It was all upstairs I believe. Was that a Viva location for a time?

    Obviously this tracks away from the question of the “last man standing” that I posed earlier, but these community comments spur on more and more memories!!

    • Pancho Villa’s! (And either before or after, wasn’t it also Mark’s Place — a discotheque owned by Mark Kaufman, who went on to own Ship’s)?

      • Jerry MacDaid

        Speaking of Ship’s, I really liked that place. There was some sandwich called the MOM that I used to get. Maybe pastrami with an egg and other stuff on it. 30 years ago though so memory is vague. Anyone have a copy of their menu?

  29. Sharon Paulsen

    Holy crap Dan – yes! Pancho Villa!

    And I just checked with my Dad (who used to own New York Bike in the 70’s, downtown, corner of Imperial and Main), and he believes that Mark was the owner of Ships, after the disco joint. But we’re talking 1970’s and ’80’s here, so he’s a little fuzzy on that.

    Loved The Ships myself! As a kid and teenager. Can’t recall when they closed up (or when the offshoot Chinese food takeout place kicked in – mid ’80’s for both?).

  30. If this is indeed the last of the Red Barn, I would like to applaud the Nistico family for being the toast of Westport! Westport in it’s hay day! When we all had manners and could walk into the Arrow or Red Barn, even if just be for take out, and be treated Like Gold!! Please lets NOT EVER lose Dunvilles, The Duck, or Vivas! I truly Love this town!!