Progress Report: The Old Bertucci’s Site

Last August 1, I reported that work was proceeding s-l-o-w-l-y  — yes, that was the technical term I used — at the former Bertucci’s property, on the Post Road near the Sherwood Island connector.

Now it’s exactly 6 months later. It’s still not finished. But the end is in sight.

Ignazio’s Pizza will — as noted previously — occupy part of the former Bertucci’s floor. This will be the 2nd location for the thin-crust restaurant. The original is in DUMBO — it is literally down underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

An art and design firm will take up another part of that floor. That leaves about 2,100 square feet still available — which is why the “Building For Lease/Space Available” signs has Westporters wondering if Ignazio’s was just pie in the sky.

The view from the parking lot.

Not to worry. Steve Straus — of Fred Straus Inc., the Yonkers-based family real investment company — says that exterior work is done. When Ignazio’s finishes their interior work, they’ll open.

And, Straus says, there are “very good prospects” for the remaining first floor space.

Upstairs, there’s another 2,840 square feet of office space to rent.

Straus is proud of his company’s new landscaping, sidewalk, rain garden, facade, parking lot and lighting on the spot that many Westporters will long remember as Bertucci’s. (Older generations recall Tanglewoods. Real old-timers know it as the Clam Box.)

Straus says that the redevelopment of the property coincides with the construction of the office/retail/residential complex across the street, at the Post Road/Long Lots junction. He believes it will create a “village” environment in that part of town.

As for what’s going on clear across town, in the old Blu Parrot/Jasmine/Arrow property by the train station parking lot: Mystic Market announced they were moving in — back in November 2017.

When they’ll actually open is anyone’s guess.

36 responses to “Progress Report: The Old Bertucci’s Site

  1. Rosemary Bentley Milligan

    Guess I am a “real old timer” because I loved the Clam Box.

  2. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I was thinking the exact same thing, Rosemary!

  3. I guess to all the Old Timers it will always be The Clam Box. Wish it still was !

  4. David Harrison

    Steve Zakos hosted restaurant ground floor luncheons for the Board of Ed whenever there were any significant number of teacher candidates in town on the same day.

    I was amongst the teachers who joined the candidates there on the day Marianne came to interview…”the Clam Box” is the answer to the trivia question about where we met.

    Steve has a private dining room upstairs and that was where the Staple Wrestling Team held its post season awards dinner…food by the Clam Box, desserts by the team mothers.

    Saul Pollock, Dick Agness, Elliot Kraut and I provided the entertainment: Saul and Dick handed out the awards to the wrestlers; Elliot and I annually presented special awards to the parents of every varsity wrestler: gag gifts, some a bit biting or sarcastic—always delivered with smiles and always received with good natured laughter.

    Ahh, the Clam Box! Guess that makes me a real old timer!

    • Dave, what year (if you remember) did the wrestling team start doing postseason banquets at the Clam Box and how did the team pick that as its regular venue for those banquets? I ask because the soccer/cross country banquets were held annually in the Staples cafeteria (with one or two exceptions) until around 1973, when they started to rotate among different area restaurants.

      Also, great story about how/where you met Marianne.

    • Wendy Crowther

      Dave and Marianne – though it was always Mr. Harrison and Mrs. Harrison to me because I was a former Staples student of yours – you two reached out to me a few years ago by email. I promised a reply after I returned from a trip. I have yet to answer (bad/busy me) but I haven’t forgotten – it’s been on my do list ever since. I’m hoping your contact info remains the same – if not, reach out again with your new stats (my contact info is unchanged). I owe you that reply and it would be fun to reconnect over memories of your famed, Harrison-Kraut team-taught economics class and over the great memories I have of Coach Harrison and my time on the girl’s b-ball and softball teams.

  5. My first “big girl” job was waitressing at the Clam Box at 17. Those big round trays piled with meals were a first timer’s nightmare! We folded all the big white napkins and had delicious staff dinners before the doors opened. They were wonderful people.

  6. Dan. “dumbo” is beneath the Manhattan Bridge not the Brooklyn Bridge. Nice to hear from Mr. Harrison! Yes. We miss the Clam Box. Like we miss
    the Arrow.

  7. So how many pizza places in Westport does that make?

  8. I heartily agree with all of the previous comments. I remember that sometimes we would sit at the “counter area” which was near the kitchen and to this day I can still remember the fantastic smells coming from the kitchen. As a baseball fan, I also remember one time that Steve Zakos gave my father tickets to his box seats at Shea Stadium that were right behind home plate. Best seats I’ve ever had at a baseball game!!

    And speaking of the Arrow, I’d have a hard / impossible time picking which one was my favorite!!!

  9. Doris Levinson

    For memories I’m with the Clam Box-ers for that spot. It can’t ever be anything else.

  10. That IS the former Clam Box space! I still remember that when you drove within a 1000′ of the intersection you could detect the smell of fried fish.

  11. Ha! These “old timers” and their memories! Real OLDER times remember this location not as the Clam Box but as a tiny white house called The American Way just at the end of World War II. They sold very high quality hamburgers that were thick, not patties like today. And very expensive – a hamburger in a roll cost 35 cents!

    • I have never heard of that. GREAT info, Peter!

    • Wendy Crowther

      In the 1943 Westport Street Directory, this part of the Post Rd (then called E. State St.) lists the American Way Restaurant. Two years earlier, the 1941 Directory lists Page Steel Wire, Division of American Chain and Cable. Therefore, the restaurant seems to have been established between 1941 and 1943. I didn’t research how long this restaurant remained in business..

      • Wendy Crowther

        I should also add that the 1934 CT aerial survey photo shows a small, house-like structure in this same location.

        I have all of this info because I did historical research in this area in hopes that I could help save the little, antique, green house that was recently torn down to make way for the new development project now underway adjacent to Westport Wash and Wax. That green house had a great back-story too. Sigh.

  12. I miss The Clam Box!!! My grandparents would take us there for dinners on Sunday evenings in the 70’s. So sad that we don’t have any restaurants in town like this one anymore.

  13. So exciting. Just what we need, another pizza place!

  14. Dick Lowenstein

    I was still in high school in New Jersey, when my aunt, who summered in Milford, took me to Westport Country Playhouse and then to the Clam Box

  15. Guess I’m also with the “old timers” reminiscing and missing The Clam Box. My real thought is why are so many former WESTPORT eating institutions like the Big Top, Allen’s and Ships so far superior in quality food and ambiance then current establishments? Glad to have experienced these classic spots and meloncoly at their passage.

    • Scott, I disagree. Restaurants come and go all over the world; it’s the nature of the business. Very few stay for decades. We reminisce about the old favorites, but I don’t think the Clam Box and Allen’s had “far superior” quality food than current places. Allen’s had ambience, sure. But the Clam Box? Big Top’s burgers were great — but so are Match Lobster’s, and many other places (at higher prices, for sure).

      Westport’s culinary scene is thriving. The Cottage, OKO, Kawa Ni, Jesup Hall, Bar Lupa, Jeera Thai, Rothbard Ale + Larder, Layla’s Falafel, Tutti’s, and many others, are great places. Some have ambiance, others not so much. But these are the spots we’ll be talking about when they close.

      As, sadly, Da Pietro’s will sometime in the next few months — after a 30-plus-year run.

      Contact me privately. I’ll treat you to dinner at any one of those restaurants — or any other Westport spot of your choice.

      • Dan, will you treat me to dinner, too? Scott, what I think you need is a fantasy flashback like Woody Allen had to the his old 1940’s Brooklyn neighborhood in “Annie Hall.”

        You could sit eating your $6.95 lobster at Allens, overlooking the Mill Pond, and laugh as you walk by the screen door with a sign “Employees Only.” Were you able to walk through the door, you’d fall 4 feet into the water and mud below!

        Dan’s right, the food wasn’t better then; it’s just the memories…and the much cheaper prices!

  16. Michael Elliot

    Ahhh The Clam Box. What a great place. Mr. Harrison I don’t know who started the tradition but the Staples hockey team also held its banquets at The Clam Box (late 60’s into the early 70’s) as I remember, in that same upstairs room! Under the direction of coaches Jeff Lea and Bob Holiday I remember having great year end gatherings with mounds of whole belly clams! The good ol’ Days.

  17. As long as you’re talking about long-empty and neglected property in Saugatuck, what’s the story with the property right next to the future Mystic Market — 50 Charles Street — a former bank which has been sitting vacant for the better part of a decade?

  18. Michelle Sawyer

    Mystic Market website says opening January 2019. Missed that mark.

  19. David Griswold

    Hello, everyone I am David Griswold Jr and I will be the new GM of Mystic Market. I would like to let everyone know I have been working hard every day to get Mystic Market ready for you. I would like to say the opening is coming very soon!!! 😊👍🏼
    I am grateful for this opportunity and extremely excited to serve and get to know all of you.

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