The Apocalypse Is Here: Black Duck Closes Sunday

Minutes ago, the Black Duck — the legendary Saugatuck dive/burger/karaoke bar — posted this notice on their Facebook page:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce our closing. We’ve had an amazing 40 years here in Saugatuck/Westport… and we are grateful for every friend we’ve had the pleasure to serve and entertain along the way. We will be closed Thu. 11/1, and Fri. 11/2, but we WILL BE OPEN on SAT. 11/3, and SUN. 11/4 – to say good-bye. Let’s go out with a REAL BANG!

Westport will never be the same.

(Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

(Photo by John Kantor)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Hat tips: Terry Brannigan and Meredith McBride)

 

123 responses to “The Apocalypse Is Here: Black Duck Closes Sunday

  1. Vivianne Pommier

    I never thought they would close. Very Sad day

    • The last Two vestiges of Westport that we have left is
      Billy and Jack Mitchell and Family and Danny Woog !
      I must add their are an extraordinary amount of new people
      In Westport who are a credit to the town we love,

      Danny Woog is kept our memories enriched and
      I can’t thank him enough for his contributions !!

      Danny…… Write the book 😊😊😊
      Long live Saugatuck !!

      • Thanks, Tommy. You and your family set the bar VERY high!

        I agree that there are plenty of great newcomers. They definitely get it. It will be their town pretty soon!

  2. That is very sad. 😢

  3. Hard to believe

  4. William G Armstrong

    Losing this legendary place will be a loss for everyone who loves a beer, a burger, a sassy waitress, sports, music, great views, great neighbors and a good time. This news makes everyone in Westport very sad. I’m coming up for a beer right now!

  5. Michelle Scher Saunders

    This is so sad to hear! Best place in town for music, burgers & friend clams. Another Westport icon bites the dust.

  6. The worst news since Oscar’s. We had two after-wedding parties there last weekend never expecting it was farewell. Woe is Westport……

  7. Emily Silverman

    Is this legal?

  8. Wilhelmina de Haas

    Do we know why, Dan? This is such sad news.

  9. Gutted. Unfortunate sign of the times.

  10. Andrew Colabella

    Westport has officially changed and will never be the same. The quiet little town with the family own restaurants that have been around long before I was born, are now completely gone. It’s heartbreaking to watch my playground be torn down and taken away.

  11. Come on now, Dan. The real apocalypse would be if there was mold spotted in Whole Foods, requiring – of course – a complete teardown and rebuild, during which time locals would have to drive to Fairfield!

  12. Along wiith everything else in the news, this really feels like the end of the world is nigh!

  13. Chelsea Scanlin

    this is awful, westport will never be the same.

  14. Well, there’s always, oh wait no….Well how about….hmmmm, no that closed too…..Hey, you can always go to the….. F#%&, that’s gone too. Oh well, guess we’ll just say good luck and good bye. 😦

  15. Wow…In the 1.5 years I’ve lived in town we’ve come to really like this place. Was a great “go-to” when nothing else came to mind…or if you just wanted to sit on the deck and knock down a few brewskys. I even liked their lousy bands…If you saw them anywhere else you’d have been disappointed but somehow a the Duck they seemed good? Everything at the Duck was good right down to the framed bikini girl photos in the mens room and the toilet water being pushed to one side of the bowl due to the building leaning over. Man, everything just worked there…Good friend you’ll be missed!

  16. My life, as I know it….is over. I took the Ye Old Bridge Grill, Ship’s Lantern and Players Tavern, but this. SAVE THE DUCK!

  17. On behalf of the class or 1976, we mourn this news, big time!
    [40th High School Reunion, July 7, 2016]
    Bill's photo #2 with my edits.

  18. …where I had my first, and only, Harvey Wallbanger. Sad to hear it. They should tow it out to the middle of the river and light it on fire like a Viking funeral!

  19. Black duck closing????
    End of and Era
    That should worry every restaurant in Fairfield county

  20. Bad Bad Bad News!

  21. Someone please tell me this is a bad joke? Pete, if this is about my bar tab, I’ll come back home and pay it!!

  22. Matthew Mandell

    Blindsided this news. There has to be a reason, especially after the expansion with outside deck and boat slips.

    My softball team would come in uniform after our Monday night games and down batches of wings, fries and of course pitchers of beer.

    This is a major loss to the town in character, its history and an easy place just come with your family for food.

    Pete, we are going to miss you, your barge stuck in the mud, your racing boats and you being a part of the fabric of our community.

  23. Sad news. Staples Class of 1992 just had our 25th reunion at The Duck and they could not have been more hospitable. One more piece of “old Westport” gone. Klein’s, Oscar’s, Remarkable Books, and now The Duck…

    Time marches on, sadly.

  24. Chelsea Scanlin

    What can we do to save this westport staple!?

  25. In my 60 plus years, I simply do not understand the restaurant business. I’ve seen so many successful restaurants just close without warning. Many at the peak of thier success. Some day someone will explain this to me. Until then, I continue to be baffled.

  26. Sad to see you go!

  27. Wow, this one is really a shock! It’s one of the first places I went to after moving back here. It was one of the last places I went to when I moved away all those years ago. I’m not sure if the Duck or Viva’s was my first drink at a bar, but it was definitely one of them!!! Say it ain’t so!!!!!!

  28. Sad news indeed. I have many fond memories of this place. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Davy Jone’s Locker became the Black Duck; time truly does fly. This also reminds me of Mike “Wolfie” Connors, a great guy who was such a legendary part of the Duck. I wish I could be there for a proper farewell. For those who will be there, please raise a glass or two for Wolfie!

    • Of course there is the fond memory of someone named David jumping off the thruway bridge into the Saugatuck river, swimming to the Duck, and then sitting at the bar soaking wet while everyone bought him round after round of drinks…

  29. What a tragedy!! For the past several years the Y’s men gathered at the Duck after their golf outing to have a cold brew and an opportunity to lie
    about their scores. Peter and his crew couldn’t be more accommodating.
    Westport has lost one of it’s treasures.

  30. PETER – WHAT IN THE WORLD HAS CAUSED YOU TO CLOSE?
    EVEN KING AND KATIE ARE SAD! ! I AM SO SORRY THIS IS HAPPENING. WILL MISS THE DUCK. GOOD LUCK. FONDLY
    CARYL

  31. Jill Turner Odice

    The end of an era! I am amazed it was still around with all the other favorite places disappearing…What is left now, Viva Zapata? Is Dunvilles still open? I bet you are going to hear many stories about fond memories of The Duck. Loved seeing the first picture was by Chou Chou 🙂

  32. I think Starbucks is going in there. Or maybe a Walgreens?

  33. Corynne Nathan Colfax

    I am so sad to hear this. Such great memories and probably a couple of nights that I don’t remember. My sister and her husband met there as well. Hoping to make it this weekend to say goodbye to this Westport icon!

  34. Mario’s, Arrow, DeRosa’s, Allens, Porky Manaro’s, Mansion, Cafe De LaPlage …and I’m sure I’m missing a few more. Now the Black Duck.
    Pete- Thank you for being part of our community for so long, and having such a magical run.
    I feel bad that so many of our newer residents never had the opportunity to enjoy all these establishments back in the day, when the 1500 foot rule, protected our eateries and our community supported supported, and enjoyed the food and friendships made at each stop.
    2018 is a different game. Uber eats, 100 pizza deliveries, gourmet food with no sides on fancy plate restaurants serving $12 glasses of wine, neighboring towns with their own explosion of restaurants.
    It’s a different world with so many options for dining out. The costs from food, taxes, insurance, rent, alcohol etc etc, while trying to navigate a business in the most “unfriendly state for business in the country” makes it even harder for restaurants like the Black Duck to survive and thrive.
    Wishing Peter, and the staff great success in the future.

  35. Noooooooo!

  36. Whaaaaaaat????!!!!

  37. I knew an October surprise was imminent.

  38. I was in Westport recently and I felt so out of place on Main St. It doesn’t feel at all like the place I grew up. This is just icing on the cake – or a nail in the coffin – though my parents wouldn’t let me go to the BD in high school – I think they imagined bar brawls every night! I have enjoyed it many times as an adult ;). Will miss it.

  39. This is truly the apocolypse – nothing is more Townie Westport, nothing could better represent my mis-spent nights during high school and college, than the Duck.

    It is, quite naturally, the place where every class reunion from our era (every era?) gathers on Friday night before the reunion dinner on Saturday night

  40. (After my initial shock) — the Duck was the very first restaurant I went to after I moved to Westport in 1983. Though not a “regular,” I returned many times and always enjoyed it. I will miss it — this is truly a Tragedy!

  41. In our 30 years in the ‘Port, The Black Quack was the right of passage for our three Staples grad’s, post weekend cruising on the Sound with Saugatuck Harbor YC friends and so many other fun occasions. As with all the defunct Westport icon eateries, The Duck will be missed but forever in our memories.

  42. I have many great memories of spending time with friends at The Duck. It was always the go to place growing up in town. Later on I would bring my kids there to see if my son Matt could finish a barge burger. I would roll him out of the place stuffed to the gills. I feel like I just lost a good friend. Wolfe and Martin were the best. Always good for a laugh. Thank you very much Pete for the years you gave us. You will be sadly missed. There will never be a place like The Duck again. So sad !!!!!!

  43. After waiting many, many years for a slip at Compo and getting our first boat, my maiden solo venture was to head to The Duck. Sitting at the bar and seeing “The Marjtini” tied up on that rickety dock made me feel like all was right with the world. Farewell old friend.

  44. Sad. Best fried clams around. Good luck to you all. 😩

  45. Oh no!! Where will we go for New Year’s Eve???? 😥😥

  46. Diana B Pils Marino

    My childhood has just ended! Davy Jones Locker for meals then after I turned 18 in 1979 .. this was the place to “ruin your liver down by the river” and listen to great bands! I loved the staff from Wolfie, Martin and Glenn to owner Pete. They sponsored great softball teams that my brothers and husband played on!! I am so sad to see this Westport staple go. I wish y’all well in your future endeavors. 😭

  47. Can’t be! The great Wolfie, Jay, Martin, Peter and all of the rest that have made it soooo special. No words can express the feelings…

  48. Robert Mitchell

    The Duck 😦

  49. Diana Pils Marino

    My childhood has just ended! From Davy Jones Locker as a kid to drinking and listening to great bands at 18+ years old … this is so sad. It was truly the place to “ruin your liver down by the river” while Wolfie, Martin or Glenn waited on you!! Thank you Pete for sponsoring softball teams that my brothers and husband played on. 40 years is an amazing run but I will miss going to my favorite Westport staple. Good luck all with your future endeavors!! ❤😭

  50. Dear gosh We hope all is ok with Pete and the “Duck-Family”. Not sure how we could ever thank you Pete for these 40 years of dedication and,…. operation though sleet, snow, & hail and so much more. A part of Westport is dying with this news today. Dan, tell us this is a BAD Halloween trick?

  51. Horrible news. The Duck is the “PJ Clark’s” of Westport. An icon if there ever was one.

  52. Several of us dropped in after the Staples soccer 60th-anniversary celebration just over two weeks ago and it was crowded on a late Saturday afternoon. So I assume there wasn’t a significant drop in business recently. Wishing the owners success in whatever future endeavors they pursue.

    And Dave Jones: I think this could be a nice new business investment for you😏—and you could help save a piece of Westport history in the process.

  53. One of the last authentic things in Westport.

  54. Carol Lupo-Simek

    Just this past Friday night, as my friend and I enjoyed the music of another top notch band, I looked around at the swarms of people having a blast at The Duck and thought how lucky we were to have this place. Guess Westport’s luck ran out. 😢

  55. Well, IF ANYONE EVER Told me I’d end up at the DUCK on my wedding day…I woulda just laughed – BUT – on a VERY HOT SUNNY DAY and after an AWESOME WEDDING at our OTHER Last-in-town favorite, The Red Barn, a sudden storm blew in & cancelled our out door reception/party…SO, with 60+ guests and the band waiting I called THE DUCK! and MARTY SAID “BRING ‘EM HERE, JIMMY, BE GLAD TO HAVE YOU – and low & behold, there I am (we all are) me – White Tux & Marian in her gown – partying at THE DUCK on our wedding day. A WESTPORT DUCK TALE – the one & only. We’ll be there Sunday for sure!

  56. Terry Brannigan (Sr)

    I grew up on Old Mill Beach, (next to the Akins) and the drinking age was 18 when I I was at Staples and in fact, we all gathered on the dock the night of our senior prom and watched David Stalling execute a beautiful entry into the water in his Tux from the bridge. Bobby Hudson gave my boys their very first gig there opening up for Bobby and the Extra’s. The Duck has left it’s mark on me. It’s the circle of life but a tough one. If it is really going to close, I say we wait for a full moon high tide, open the train bridge and set her a drift out to see.

    • Great memories. Yikes! If I were there today I’d probably be afraid to jump off the first step of the entrance. (Unless, of course, I drank some Blackberry Brandy and Southern Comfort!) Wish I could be there for a proper sendoff. Raise a glass for Wolfie!

  57. I was in Westport recently and I felt so out of place on Main St. It doesn’t feel at all like the place I grew up. This is just icing on the cake – or a nail in the coffin – though my parents wouldn’t let me go to the BD in high school – I think they imagined bar brawls every night! I have enjoyed it many times as an adult ;). Will miss it.

  58. Way back in 1974ish Davey Jones was our HQ/hangout. Me, Pete Aitkins, Donny Kowalksky, all the Nisticos, Linda Guyaz,Tiger DeMace and many others. At that time as you entered there was a dividing wall and the bar was to the right and the dining room was to the left. The bar and the bar room were actually quite small, Bill Wimley was the bartender. I remember Pete saying to me that he would love to buy the place. And if he did he would set it up so that the bar looked over the river and the dining seats were behind it. Four years later he bought it. So many great/fun memories and stories. Thanks for 40 years Pete.

  59. Dredge and build a marina with bars and restaurants. Let’s build our waterfront.

    • Truly an insensitive plan

      • Why? Jack how many towns in CT enjoy the benefits of boats and dining and the town reaps the benefits.

        Maybe you are the problem.

      • Do you own a boat Bart? I would guess not. If you did, and you actually took your boat to the Duck on the water, you would learn that they have more visitor boat slips available than any other establishment on the Westport waterfront, (except for Rive Bistro, have to give credit there). And the new back deck at the Duck provides some if the best waterfront dining in Town.

        But what your “tear it down and rebuild it all shiny and new” idea is REALLY missing (aside from creating a too large monthly cost for a restaurant to support) is character. The Duck has character, the old metal swing bridge has character – a brand new building, or a brand new bridge, would lack character. And character defines this Town.

        • Amen!

          • While you are sobbing in your beer, we see so many closings. Maybe try an open your eyes to how we can save some institutions but help them grow. Just a suggestion you know n

        • Thanks Jack. I would hope someone can step in, use what is existing, bike on it, and make a better place for voters to come in and grab a lunch or early dinner. Having gone to many different marinas it would be great if Westport had a destination spot. Be good for the Duck and good for Westport.

          Thanks Jack.

    • NO! We need to build a wall, not a marina! A big wall. I understand there is a caravan of boat people from…Norwalk, Bridgeport,,,even (gasp!) The Bronx. They all want to come to Westport to put their “Anchor Babies” in our schools, We need to “Drain the Saugatuck” to stop them. Now!

  60. One of those times you wish it was one of Dan’s April fools jokes.

  61. Sittin around hungry…nobody ever said “No” to “how about the duck⁉️“ it’s hard to imagine Saugatuck any more☠️

  62. Definitely crying in my beer.

  63. SAVE THE DUCK – do not MOURN the DUCK – we need to do something

  64. It was SHOCKING to walk into “The Duck” for a late lunch to hear that a “forty” year run is coming to an end! The chance to reminice about all the memories and to talk to Pete about the yesteryears of offshore powerboat boat racing…a world I grew up around as a kid…and to see friends and neighbors who have embraced this as a Westport Institution was the only saving grace. Somehow, like PJ Clarkes at 55th and 3rd… I am hopeful The Duck will survive and continue to thrive.

  65. The reason we moved to New England from California in 1990 was to experience that which the Duck has; the gritty, nautical and casual atmosphere where you can unwind and feel content, comfortable, and fortunate to have a little gem like this in the neighborhood.

    I’m sick of the foo-foo faux-faux posers that litter our area.

    Westport lost more than a restaurant/watering hole…it lost it’s last thread of authenticity. Seriously.

    Please don’t go…

  66. Marios a couple of years ago and now the duck ,what is going on?

  67. Oh, hell no!!

    The Duck!?!

    It was a Townie institute for me, back in 1980’s, 90’s, and early aughts.

    OMG, the memories!

    Possibly the last man standing of Westport, it seems (except for maybe relocated Westport Pizza, Dunvilles, Viva, and the still surviving Tavern on Main/old Chez).

    I am sad to see this honky-tonk staple go!

    (On a side note, I wonder if the excessive coastal flooding has made the Duck’s location unfeasible at this point? Because it certainly doesn’t seem to be for lack of love for the place).

  68. Where will we get Lobster Ruebens now? Maybe someone will take it over….

  69. Ahhh! Memories😘. P.A. You know who you are! How about a cigarette ?🤔

  70. This is a real loss. It was one of the first places I went when I moved to Westport almost 30 years ago and THE place to go when you just want to hang back, super relaxed, have a beer and some steamers, watch a friend’s band – and the place I recommend to out of towners for a taste of “real Westport” tucked away under the bridge. One of the saddest closing announcements yet…

  71. Right of passage… to family place… to local lore… if you don’t have a story about The Duck …. then you are not a Westporter… with its “improvements” and other cosmetic add-ons… it truly remained the same…. it didn’t need its 15 minutes of fame on DDD… we knew… The Duck had its single name fame as did the staff… Wolfie, Marty, Glenn, Pete, Jodi, Wally, and Herbie … my brother said his FB page was overtaken by the demise of The Duck Westports Dive vs. national political news… that right there says it all… The Duck for President… first can I get a beer

  72. I used to look at “The Duck” for eight years when I rowed on the Saugatuck. We thought it was slightly sinking, but I never thought this icon would actually sink. I moved away from Westport and just recently rediscovered “The Duck”. My friend Karen and I were starting a tradition of having dinner there every Wednesday night. It’s like getting back together again with an old lover and having him leave you. Farewell Duck. I have loved you from every angle.

  73. Kim Crowther Manning

    This is truly heartbreaking. Like so many other folks who commented here, The Duck was the place we all went to the minute we turned 18 (and often before…..gasp!). It was the gathering spot the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving when we’d all return home from college, and years later the best part of our SHS reunions. And for me, as a member of a rock and roll band that played there often (one of our favorite places to play, if not THE favorite), the Duck closing is a huge loss. Thank you, Pete, for so many years of great fun for all of us who loved the Duck, and a special thanks from Voodoo Carnival – we will miss you beyond words.

  74. if we can save Bagel Maven then surely we can save the Duck.

  75. So sad. An icon is gone…Tried to find the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode that featured the BD but couldn’t locate it. I did find a nice story from CT Perspectives…Please go to the link…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19yuHWusHDU

  76. Gerard MacDonell

    It is so sad to see Westport being gentrified. And now The Duck is going. I remember the many years I used to stop there on the way home from the hedge fund. Will miss the informed discussion of physics that was always available there.

  77. Why is there a Go Fund Me now for the BD if they are closing anyway? $3k out of $100k requested so far….

  78. I started going there in ’92 when I came from Sweden and was a nanny. And since then I’ve probably been there 50+ times… So many good party-night. Songs. Laughs. Dinners. Westport will never be the same. I will miss this place so much!!!

  79. I wear the fact that I was (once) thrown out of the Duck as a badge of honor. I won’t name who instigated the tossing, but his initials are J. E. B. Martin tossed us, but said we could come back at 11:30 that same night. That’s some pragmatic customer service. My oldest son bussed tables there for a year in high school and loved it and the staff.
    Great, great joint. Thank you Pete, Martin, and all the crew for creating a legendary (and legend-making) institution.

    • I was once thrown out by the same person….”for life”…35 years ago. Lets just say climbing into the ice machine wasn’t a good idea..
      Anyway, I left for the Marine Corps soon after the incident and when I came home on leave, either I wasn’t recognized due to my shaved head or all was forgotten…. because it was never mentioned again after all these years.

    • Tony, Tony, Tony !!!

  80. This is horrible news! Is there anything that can be done to save the DUCK? I eat there at least once if not twice a week! Paris 😦

  81. goodnight old friend
    see you in my dreams

  82. Let’s face it, for all of us who grew up in Westport, the town has not been the same for 30 years or more. The neighborhood bars, the family owned restaurants, and delicatessens with their specialies have all been replaced by big city style PC restaurants and boutiques. Soon you won’t be able to find a place to buy a newspaper, or, god forbid, a pack of smokes.
    The Duck is the last remnant of what this town once was… a town of hard working people that wanted a better life for themselves and their children. Unfortunately, the notariety of the town has killed it with McMansions sprawling to within 10 feet of property lines replacing the quaint homes of our parents and grandparents and restaurants like the Arrow, Mario’s and the Duck failing to cater to those more interested in being “Seen” than in having a few drinks and nice meal in a fun atmosphere.
    Let’s always remember, cherish and mourn the passing of the town we once knew and loved

    • Diana Pils Marino

      Very well said Ed! It makes it easier for us to move out of State. Westport .. let alone CT … isn’t anything like it was.

  83. Well put Ed!!

  84. Time keeps on ticking, ticking ticking. For years traveling home for life events like moving parents into assisted living, cleaning out homes, funerals, there was something about ducking into the Duck for a pint with old friends that made it all seem alright. I’ll raise a pint for the place, the memories, and of course for Wolfie.

  85. Ed, sounds to me like you’re describing the town of Willoughby, unfortunately the stop on that train no longer exists, unless you happen to be in the Twilight Zone.

  86. Mr. Perry I don’t know you, but it’s obvious you did not grow up in Westport. On the other hand, I know the type. You probably did in a town like Westport has become, in that case, we’re happy that you apparently enjoy what Westport has become. Next time I visit Westport to see my family, maybe I’ll see you…eating an unappealing meal you don’t want to finish, but sitting by the window in the Tarry Lodge so all passers by can notice you.

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