Dismantling The Red Barn

Any hopes for a hail Mary rescue of the Red Barn were dashed last night.

Simply Estated said it will hold an estate liquidation sale this Friday and Saturday (July 17-18, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.). Everything in the restaurant — which closed abruptly this month, after 32 years in the Nistico family and decades more under previous owners — is for sale.

Tables, chairs — it’s all on the market (except kitchen equipment).

Who knows? Somewhere in the back you might find the “The” part of the iconic “Red Barn” sign. It blew down in a storm a couple of years ago, and was never fixed.

Generations of memories fill the venerable restaurant. The Nistico family — and those before them — served Westport long and well there.

After Saturday, everything else will be gone.

Red Barn painting

25 responses to “Dismantling The Red Barn

  1. Jill Nash von Schmidt

    So sad to see yet another classic Westport establishment disappear.

    I pray that all is well with the Nistico family & that they are just moving on to better things. I fondly remember the Arrow & the absolutely delicious food they served. I remember waiting in line for a table while take-out orders flew out the door. It was our “go to” restaurant when I was a child.

    I was blessed to be able to have our wedding reception at the Red Barn. What a lovely party – our guests were well taken care of, and the food was delicious.

    Thank you, Nistico family. You have given me many fond memories – ones that I will always cherish. I pray that you will all be blessed in whatever endeavor you choose next.

  2. Steve Doig (Staples '66)

    Lou Nistico was the heart of the Staples football boosters during my mid-’60s era. I also remember my family eating regularly at the Arrow. Good times, now gone…

  3. First The Three Bears, now The Red Barn. I am so nostalgic for that period in time – when New Yorkers could drive up the Merritt Parkway and take Exit 41 to a sublime time at either establishment. A “cocktail time” sort of time, slow and relaxed. Hollywood images of the 40’s and 50’s Connecticut sort of settled on The Three Bears and The Red Barn. Guess we’ll have to settle for that.

  4. Sherri Wolfgang-Peyser

    Marios, Mansion Clam House, Splash, Three Bears, and now The Red Barn?

    So sad.

  5. So was the rumor true that the Y is buying the property. If so, what will become of the building?

    • The rumor about the Y buying the property — for daycare, parking or to tie in to its sewer line — has been out there for a while. They are not saying a word. So far, no real estate transaction has closed.

  6. Bart Shuldman

    Good food attracts customers. This is not about the so called ‘changing’ Westport. It’s about a concept born years ago that most today did not like. Sorry. But restaurants are required to adapt to changing ‘tastes’.

    • Bart, on the other hand, the Nistico family obviously had a formula that was a success for many years. And they did adapt when they switched from the Arrow to the Red Barn years ago.

      Between the Arrow and the Red Barn, their restaurant business supported at least three generations of an extended family—with the family business having begun in the 1930s. Perhaps with the current primary family operators in their mid-60s, they weren’t looking to undertake further changes to the menu.

      The bottom line is, I think many family businesses would love to continue operating for 80+ years and support multiple generations. Wishing the Nisticos all the best.

    • Hey Bart, whatever the reason the restaurant closed is neither here nor there right now,,, how about a little respect for the Nistico Family who thru the course of many,many generations has given and contributed to all of Saugatuck and Westport…

      Best Wishes to the Nistico Family

      The Cribari Family

    • Bart Shuldman

      I wish the family all the best and truly hope, should they decide, to one day open another restaurant that people would enjoy. No harm was intended.

  7. David Smith (Staples '64)

    In the 1950s and ’60s we lived in a barn in Weston that had been remodeled into a home and painted red. Our phone number was only one digit different from the restaurant’s number and we were routinely annoyed by misdialed calls. When a caller asked if this was The Red Barn, my mother would always say, yes, it is, and sometimes take a reservation. I have no idea why I remember this.

  8. Tom Feeley Sr

    The food at the Barn was excellent as was the service. But the Town would not permit a bar, so one could not “hang out” or meet someone for just a drink. That had more to do with the demise than their failure to adapt. They were excellent restaurantours with over 50 years experience.

  9. We spent so much time there–seems like we practically grew up at the Arrow…. So many amazing family memories at the Arrow and the Red Barn. Thank you for all you gave us…I wish all the best to the Nistico family

  10. Loved the Arrow– spent many Saturday night dinners there with my parents after a full day at Compo. Red Barn was wonderful as I remember it. Funny, in the city I live in now, which considers itself a foodie mecca, and I have to agree in many ways, we have an old fashioned Arrow type of place that has been in the family since the 1930’s and another generation is now running it.

    They’ve changed the menu slightly adding specials that are more “today,” and the interior is slightly upgraded, and this place is jammed packed every night standing room only to get a table. They keep their bar up to date but they still make the old stand byes – the best, martinis, old fashions, good beer on tap and wine selection, etc. The reason I love this place so much is that it reminds of soo much of the Arrow. The interior as well – I feel like I’m a kid again at the Arrow some nights. The meatballs and sauce are the same recipe from 1930 — and they’re outstanding.The lasagna is still the grandmother’s recipe.

    My point being, there’s always a market for these generational family places who give you the feeling of love and home. We will never stop going on Sunday nights to this place now. These places are becoming rare and so much change — hope it makes for a better Westport.

  11. Susan Hopkins

    Thank you … and best wishes to the Nistico family.

    Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left of you.
    ~ Simon and Garfunkel

  12. linda pomerantz novis

    My memories of playing their spinet piano (occasional Sunday brunches) at the Red Barn in the 1980’s..(..The piano actually nestled inside a (non-working!) fireplace in the main dining room..(a
    challenge -for the nearby tables, but the nice dining folks ,there, always appreciative of my piano playing…a nice place.. Best wishes to Cheech,Tommy & the entire Nistico family.

  13. Sandy Johnson

    My best wishes to the Nistico family You served Westport well!! My family would always take guests to the Red Barn as it was right next door (my home was off exit 42) I still own the property on Gault Park Dr even though Imoved to New Orleans a couple weeks ago to live near my son. I hope to be able to sell my home there soon I do miss Westport but am enjoying New Orleans and a brand new YMCA pool which is near by. Thanks,again , to the Nistico family for the wonderful restaurant years!!
    Sandy Johnson

  14. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    My late mother, a lifelong Westporter and classmate of Lou Senior’s, passed away in 2004. When we brought her home from Ohio to bury her there was no one at the funeral other than our small family and several friends because all of her Westport friends had already passed. We decided to gather at the Red Barn, where we were greeted like family by our classmate Cheech, who we hadn’t seen (we had moved away) for 20 years. We had no reservations and, as always, the restaurant was busy. He expressed his condolences, gave us the upstairs banquet room, where we had some time to privately be together as a family. There can never be a substitute for the Arrow or The Red Barn because there can never be a substitute for the generosity, warmth and kindness of the family that owned them.

  15. Tom Allen '66

    Well said, Buck. Perfectly said, in fact. God bless the Nisticos–and Martha.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      May you (and your incredible memory) stay well.

  16. All the best to the entire Nistico clan (and Martha). You won our gratitude and our stomachs, and you all did an exemplary job. Ride on pards.

  17. Melinda Hemson Dubowsky

    Ok, I’m a little late but I just saw this today.
    The Red Barn had been my favorite restaurant since my parents took me there in the 80’s. I loved it so much I wanted to have my wedding reception there but sadly, it was too small for what we needed. I then insisted on having the rehearsal dinner there. My dad was their electrician for years so I was familiar with the owners. Everyone there did an amazing job accommodating us and I will always cherish those memories. It was a great party!
    A few years back, I was at a flea market near Rocky Neck State Park and found the same postcard Dan used in this article. Of course I bought it and it is framed and hanging in my kitchen.
    Best wishes to the Nistico Family. Thanks for the memories!