Elvira’s Is Closed. Opening Soon: Elvira Mae’s.

Betsy and Hal Kravitz sat outside Elvira’s yesterday.

The deli/market/community center on Hillspoint Road by Old Mill Beach has been closed since winter.

A steady stream of people — all ages, on foot and bike — stopped to peer in the dark window. No one — not even nearby neighbors — knew what lay ahead.

Betsy and Hal told them.

They’re the new owners. On Thursday, they closed on the property.

They’ve already begun renovating and remodeling. Soon — to the delight of everyone in the area, and countless other walkers, joggers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, tradesmen and everyone else passing by — Betsy will reopen it.

The new store will be great. So is the back story leading up to it.

Hal and Betsy Kravitz, at Elvira’s.

Hal is a Stamford native. He retired after a career with Coca-Cola and related companies, focusing on bottled water.

Betsy was born and raised in Buffalo. She spent most of her adult life in California, working on music for TV networks.

While in Atlanta to help start the Food and Wine Festival, she met Hal. Several years ago, they got married.

Life in Malibu was good. But they came back East in October, to be near ailing parents.

Neither of them knew Westport. When a realtor brought them here, they loved the “artsy, fun” vibe — and the water. “It was as close to the Malibu lifestyle as you can get,” Hal says.

They were also intrigued by Elvira’s. The realtor stopped there with Betsy, for lunch. Soon, she and Hal bought a house near Compo Beach.

Elvira’s, where Betsy had her first meal in Westport.

With 4 dogs, Betsy thought about running a doggy day care center. They explored other business options.

Then, on March 11 — Betsy’s birthday — they heard Elvira’s was for sale.

“We wanted to put down roots in Westport,” she says. “Buying it, and keeping it open, seemed a great way to be part of the neighborhood. Even though we were new to the community, we heard rumors it might be sold to a builder and become a house. We didn’t want that.”

Niki Boulas — part of the Yiovanakos family that owns it — was “fantastic,” Betsy says. She let the Kravitzes begin renovating even before the sale was final.

“They know the importance of summer,” Betsy says. “They want us to open as soon as we can.”

But because the transaction had not gone through, neither she, Hal nor Niki’s family could answer the many questions about the future of Elvira’s.

Balloons will soon be seen again at Elvira’s.

Now they can.

Yesterday, Betsy told “06880” — and that steady stream of hopeful customers — that she’s adding a window in front. She’ll serve ice cream — and food to go — there from 4 p.m. on.

The store itself will open at 7 a.m., and stay open till 4. Betsy is adding specialty coffee from BonJo in Stamford, more baked goods, healthy options — and bulk candy.

Luis Romero — the popular chef — will return full-time. The menu will be less extensive than Elvira’s. The pizza oven is gone.

But she’ll still sell ice — and the very popular bacon-egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich.

She’ll still keep house accounts — though not with the current ledger. Betsy will use a smartphone app (and a gift card option for younger kids without cellphones).

She’ll also still sell newspapers. Someone asked for tidal charts. And — on Niki’s advice — she’ll mount all those kids’ school photos (currently under glass at the counter) on the walls. “She told me they always come back and want to see them,” Betsy says.

With those 4 dogs, Betsy is canine-friendly. She’ll welcome them with water and treats.

The floors are new. There’s fresh paint inside and out. The shelves in the middle are gone.

Before Elvira’s, the store at the foot of Compo Hill was owned by Ken Montgomery.

Betsy knows that Elvira’s regulars will be pleased it’s reopening. But she also knows she’s replacing a deli that was a 2-decade-old icon.

“We’re the new people here,” she says. “Everyone will tell us what went on before.”

She gives huge props to Niki, and Stacey and Nick Yiovanakos, for their help with the transition.

“They had great ideas for this place, and we do too. It’s like 1 plus 1 equals 3,” Betsy says.

Niki echoes the kind words.

“After 22 years, this is bittersweet for us. We’re happy for my parents’ retirement, and for us others moving on.

“It’s been nothing but our pleasure to serve the community. We will genuinely miss it. We take with us fond memories, and value the family relationships we built.

“We’re more than joyful that it will continue. Betsy and Hal are wonderful people. We want you to welcome them with open arms. Thank you to them, and everyone!”

Niki Boulas and her mother Stacey Yiovanakos. The counter displays photos of some of Elvira’s many young customers.

Betsy’s middle name is Mae. She thought about calling her new place Betsy Mae’s.

But when Niki said that Elvira’s was named for her mother Stacey’s sister — who died of cancer at 38, just before the deli — she realized the importance of keeping the name.

So — hopefully in mid-June, but definitely by July 4 — Elvira’s will open again.

As “Elvira Mae’s.”

“It’s a way to keep the old, and add the new,” Betsy says.

Just like the tides whose charts she’ll stock, Elvira Mae’s will be always moving, and also timeless.

16 responses to “Elvira’s Is Closed. Opening Soon: Elvira Mae’s.

  1. Bruce Fernie SHS 1970

    Will always be Grubs to me…

    • Yup – Grubs. Best of luck to Betsy and Hal. So glad it will continue. Not many shops like this around anymore!

  2. Truly terrific news. When considering buying a house on Compo Mill Cove (“The Cove”), the fate of Elvira’s was key. The new owners will get a thousand suggestions but let me point out that like the markets in many of the 18 towns on Fire Island, residents understand that prices will not be like at the supermarket. And stocking some staples — if there’s room — like toilet paper, paper towels, eggs and milk would be a godsend for Mill Beach and Cove residents. As a retired newspaper man, I am just delighted they’ll be selling newspapers! Especially with the demise of the corner store on Railroad Avenue. And tidal charts are key given how both places drain down to sand flats at low tide, worse than the Gulf of Mexico. I will drive the long way home leaving Compo to spend money there. Good luck.

  3. Amy Saperstein

    Sounds great! Best of luck – Can’t wait tomtry it!

  4. Patricia McMahon

    What great news waking up to.
    Looking forward meeting Hal and Betsy and thanking them both for keeping the good vibes of our Compo Community together.

  5. Alexis Donnerstag

    Congratulations, Betsy and Hal! We are so excited for you guys! Westport is grateful!

  6. Wanda Tedesco

    What wonderful news and great article! Having lived here all my life I date back to when we called it Kenny’s😁 Best wishes Elvira Mae’s!

  7. We will absolutely miss Niki, Stacey, Nick, and the rest of the family/crew. But, given the family’s desire to sell, this seems like the best news possible. We wish the new owners lots of success.

  8. Jaan Stievater

    With a name like Elvira Mae’s and the determination of Betsy and Hal, the business will be a great success.

  9. Rhonda Berwald

    When visiting my family in Westport, Love walking down to Elvira’s and having a great cup of coffee and walking to the beach, it’s so familiar and quaint , my go to place it reminds me of the corner stores when I was a kid! So glad your continuing, much success😁

  10. This is AWESOME! Thanks dan, as always! If possible to connect us with them I’d love to reach out and promote their opening through WM! We can also go by one day too:)

    >

  11. I don’t suppose they could consider renaming it, instead, something like “Old Mill Grocery and Deli”. Or Kenny’s, as it was better known. But I’ll bet with his Coca Cola connections, Hal could at least replace the Westinghouse wet box that used to sit out front.

  12. Ellen Lautenberg

    Fantastic that they are investing in the community in this way! We must support our neighborhood stores/restaurants. When you are near the highschool/BMS or on Cross Highway, stop in to the newly opened Chef’s Table at Christy’s – another wonderful neighborhood deli with great food options. Good luck to Elvira Mae’s!

  13. grateful that it will stay on as a little Compo country beach market, so many memories over so many decades now of that store, Impossible to think of compo, esp at this time of year, without thinking of that store.

  14. Cathy Diamond

    Nicky and Stacey, you will be missed but we are thrilled for you. Hal and Betsy, congratulations and thank you for keeping this going. We can’t wait to visit.

  15. Yay! Beautiful story! Good luck to Hal and Betsy!

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