Checking Out The Mansion

In the heart of Saugatuck, it’s hard to miss: Every day, the former Mansion Clam House moves closer to its new incarnation as Parker Steak House.

The substantial portion of townsfolk who don’t like restaurant changes wonder what’s ahead. Owner Chris Costa — a longtime Westporter who bought the property from his uncle’s estate — sends this reassuring message to all:

I’m glad that my family contributed to Westport’s individual character for many years with the Mansion. It’s my intent that the building and grounds retain some of the salty dog touches that I too enjoy.

I intend to replace the fisherman on the roof. We are searching for a new mannequin now, and some foul weather gear. The old one was beyond repair for safe installation.

The quirky Mansion Clam House fisherman will be back -- in some form -- at the Parker Steak House.

The quirky Mansion Clam House fisherman will be back — in some form — at the Parker Steak House.

We will do parking lot and dock work too, once the structure is complete.

My passion for the individual character and spirit that has endeared Westport to me is alive and well. I too sometimes lament the homogenization of the beige stone and shingle world the town seems to have become.

We need individuality and diversification. The cookie-cutter thing doesn’t work for me.

I need to respect and balance the tenant’s design and wishes, and collaborate with things that can work to add all the character people fondly remember.

Work proceeded last month on the former Mansion Clam House. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

Work proceeded last month on the former Mansion Clam House. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

Not the least of that will be some very good food. To be clear: It will not solely be a steak house! While that is a focus, seafood of course will be well represented.

The operator is a great guy, very open to listening to customers to get them great food at fair prices and a welcoming atmosphere. He’s in this for the long haul.

I am too. This is not a trendy one-hit-and-done, in-and-out.

Time will tell. At the end of the day, the people are the voters.

We set the stage. They come. Everyone learns. Evolutions occur. And a good balance is achieved!

(Hey, “06880” readers! If you know where Chris Costa can find a good fisherman mannequin, click “Comments” below.)

 

20 responses to “Checking Out The Mansion

  1. Loretta Santella Hallock

    The building is looking great. My Moms cousin was the original owner. Looking forward to the opening! Hope you have lobster rolls with butter!!!!

    • Chris Costa

      Thank you Mrs Hallock, we appreciate your kind words – I think the new operator intends to have some great lobster options ! Hope we see you once open. Kind regards !

  2. Wendy Cusick

    I’ve been watching since they started the renovations. They’re doing a wonderful job and quickly. The building looks fabulous Thank You Mr. Costa and Dan for sharing the update. Nice to know there still a local connection to the property.

    • Chris Costa

      Dear Wendy,

      Thank you very much, I hope you enjoy the new spot once they are open!

  3. Morley Boyd

    The “scotch tape” replacement sashes are a little unfortunate but the wood roof is a class act and looks great from Bridge Street. Overall, it’s nice to see a familiar landmark being conserved.

    • Chris Costa

      Dear Mr. Boyd,

      Thanks for your insight, we learn from all comments received! I hope when it all pulls together everything is in balance!

  4. Nelson Morgan (Westport expatriate and erstwhile Mansion customer)

    To replace the seated fisherman, Chris might check out these websites for full-body mannequins that can be bent to a sitting position. Clothe the figure in foul weather gear, then add a fishing rod and perhaps a painted face.

    http://www.roxydisplayinc.com/webpage/mannequins/high%20end/flexi_arm/mfxweg.html

    http://www.mannequinstore.com/male_mannequins.htm

    http://www.zingdisplay.com/Posable-Military-Male-Mannequin-p/smil-flexg.htm

  5. matt saltus

    I find it interesting how Mr. Costa and his family seem to take credit for the 60+ year run of the Mansion Clamhouse. Anyone even vaguely familiar with the landmark restaurant know it was the Verina family and the Saltus family who put their sweat, money and hard work into making this
    the premier seafood establishment in Fairfield County. Its laughable for him to claim he is “preserving” the Westport we grew up in by removing one of its cornerstones and replacing it with a steakhouse. Just what we need another steakhouse.

    • Loretta Santella Hallock

      Mario’s, Maneros and The Peppermill? All gone.

    • Diane h silfen

      Thanks Matt. I wanted to say it but I couldn’t. It had to come from you

      • Chris Costa

        Dear Mrs. Silfen,

        Greetings, as offered to Mr. Saltus, I meant no omission or offense to the past talented operators of the business, I know they created the positive spirt that endears the mansion to so many ! Please accept my apology it was not my intent at all!

      • Dear Diane. On behalf of the Saltus family, I thank you for your support. Matt Saltus

    • Chris Costa

      Dear Mr. Saltus, I’m sorry you seem to think I and or my family are taking credit for running the restaurant, I tried to make it clear that was indeed not the case. I know many years of hard creative and talented work was indeed done by the Verina and Saltus families! I thank them all for contributing to the good feelings and positive history of the town. My apologies if I offended you, that was not my intent at all.

      • matt saltus

        Dear Chris, Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thank You. Matt Saltus

        • Dear Matt,

          Thank you, you made a very good distinct point, I value your perspective, I look forward to the next chapter, as the new operator puts his talent and heart and soul into it like your family did along with the Verina’s. My best regards, and thank you again. Best regards Chris

  6. Bart Shuldman

    Chris. Best of luck. Just remember-it is not what the building looks like-but the food and drink inside. The success will only be judged that way.

    • Chris Costa

      Dear Mr. Shuldman,

      Thank you ! Agreed I’m a true believer as I said in that you are only as good as your last meal. The new operator is a great guy, with passion and integrity, I believe he will bring theses qualities to please his clientele! I hope you come and experience once things are ship shape !

  7. Bart Shuldman

    Chris-thanks for the reply. We got to every new restaurant in Westport as we want to support those that are willing to invest in our town. I will hope the food is as good as you predict and then parking is somewhat easy, making it a great experience.

    Wishing you all the success!! Let us know when you want us to do our ‘try’.

  8. Wendy Cusick

    Well, that was a surprise! Thank you for the response Mr. Costa. We’re cheering you and the new restaurant operator on. I agree with Mr. Shuldman the great quality food, drink and great customer service are what’s important to building a solid cornerstone business/restaurant. If it’s possible email, a copy of the menu from the other location or just post the link here to a web page of the restaurant. Just so I get familiar with some ot items that will be available. Thank you Enjoy Your Day Keep up the Good Work. Wendy (06851er)