Remembering Drew Friedman

Drew Friedman — a longtime downtown landowner who, as a founder of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, and landlord of restaurants like Onion Alley, Bobby Q’s and Acqua gave locally owned businesses space on Main Street, and influenced the entire downtown area — has died. He was 86.

There was a moment of silence this morning at “Weston Speak Up,” an annual affair in that town. Friedman was a presence in Weston as the owner of Cobb’s Mill Inn. He bought the iconic restaurant — with ducks and a waterfall — in 2011.

Drew Friedman and his wife Laura Papallo Friedman, at Cobb's Mill Inn. (Photo/Patricia Gay)

Drew Friedman and his wife Laura Papallo Friedman, at Cobb’s Mill Inn. (Photo/Patricia Gay)

Freidman sold his Bobby Q’s building in November 2014, for $9.2 million. He owned it for 31 years, renting to tenants like Onion Alley, Shoe Inn and the “Born to Explore” TV show.

His downtown holdings once included the original Westport Public Library building on the Post Road between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza (now Starbucks and Freshii). He also owned Post Road property beyond downtown.

Friedman owned other commercial property in Westport too. Last May, he bought the 10-acre Stonehenge property in Ridgefield for $1,990,000.

Friedman’s wife Bobbi — a noted painter, sculptor and dancer — died in 2011. After her death, he married Laura Papallo.


12 responses to “Remembering Drew Friedman

  1. gerald f. romano, jr.

    Dear Drew,
    I will miss you at Oscar’s Deli
    And I will always thank you for giving me opportunity
    Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

  2. Michael Calise

    I believe Drew also owned a successful upstate boys camp. He was a successful entrepreneur who knew when to place his bets and when to fold his cards. Think about it – at his age he buys a failed country restaurant and gets it up and running and then he buys another! This is a man who died with his boots on. A colorful contributor to our community who will be sorely missed.

  3. Michael Calise, you are right. He (with his father Major Friedman) owned Camp Robin Hood (for boys) in New Hampshire and Camp Hiawatha (for girls) in Kezar Falls, Maine. He was a shrewd businessman.

  4. don l bergmann

    I came to know Drew only over the past 15+ years in the course of activities involving “downtown”. His commitment to both his real estate interests and to Westport, combined with his energy, willingness to work for what he believed and underlying optimism are qualities that I most remember.
    Don Bergmann

  5. Sally Kellogg Deegan

    This is where my first husband proposed to me when we were having dinner in 1946 at Cobb’s Mill. Still have a clipping from the Bridgeport Herald announcing it. I also took all the minutes for the birth of theParker Harding development committee – can’t remember the year, but I remember Em Parker.

  6. Very sad news. I have such fond memories playing Bingo in the old library building with Drew calling out the numbers. It was a hoot…the same small group of us played each week including Betty Lou Cummings. My daughter got married at the gorgeous Stonehenge Inn. $1,990,000 seems to have been a real bargain purchase for him. RIP Drew.

  7. Drew’s late wife, Bobbie, created the sculpture of bridge bearing at the end of the Library Riverwalk — which Drew had saved when the bridge no longer opened…another example of his love of Westport’s history.

  8. Drew was my cousin, I spent my summer’s with Dre w and his brother Major and his dad Andy and mom Duff at Camp Robin Hood in New Hampshire . some of the best times in my life.You will be missed by many. RIP
    Neal Goodenow

  9. As a camper at Robin Hood in the early 50’s and on staff in the early 60’s, I have never forgotten Drew, Bobbie, Major, Duff, and Andy. They were an inspiration to all of us who knew them.

  10. Bobbie Herman

    I just realized the connection. Laura was my husband’s and my She was absolutely delightful, and had a beautiful voice. I offer my condolences to her.

    • Bobbie Herman

      Sorry — there was a glitch in my message. I meant to say that Laura was our guide during a trip to Venice in 2006.

  11. Richard Woodstein

    Drew and his family will always be remembered…..He shaped 10’s of thousands of kids lives at Camp Robin Hood which still exists today- Drew left a amazing legacy