I love writing stories that welcome new businesses to Westport.
They’re often about the owners: their backgrounds, what got them here, the challenges they’ve faced — that sort of thing.
I don’t usually profile store managers.
But I also don’t usually find a manager with a back story like Dave Griswold’s.
The man who runs Mystic Market — Saugatuck’s new kitchen/eatery that’s earning raves in the old Blu Parrot/Jasmine/Arrow space — grew up in a military family. He went to 10 schools, before graduating from a fine arts academy.
Then he trained in ballet, and did a conservator with the American Ballet Theatre. He danced with Alice Cooper, and at Madison Square Garden for the New York Liberty.
After that, came … the US Army.
Griswold was a diesel mechanic in Afghanistan and Kuwait. He was also in charge of morale-building, getting soldiers out of their barracks to mix and mingle. During the service he finished his degree in business management.
All of those experiences — arts, problem solving, team building — serve him well as he helps develop Westport’s next favorite spot.
Griswold moved to Saugatuck last March, as Mystic Market prepared its new space. He commuted to their Old Saybrook store for months. Finally — with the local store open — he can enjoy his new home town.
One of the things he likes best is the “thriving arts culture.” He wants Mystic Market to be part of it too.
Mystic Market’s leadership team will also be out in force on Earth Day, cleaning up the neighborhood.
“We all want to be part of the community,” Griswold says. “We want to be hands-on, giving back just as much as we want people to discover us, and be here for us.”
He also wants Mystic Market to be “the first great job for teenagers.” There’s nothing better, he says, than for students to learn the values of work, in an open, inviting space like his.
Griswold doesn’t know it, but his store’s ancestor — the Arrow restaurant — did exactly that, for generations of long-ago kids.
The iconic spot in the heart of Saugatuck pulses with new, 21st-century life. Westporters — old and young, natives and newcomers alike — should be thrilled.