Will Hamer is still in his early 20s.
But already he has:
- Played rugby at Staples High School
- Left Staples after 2 years to row for the Dublin School in New Hampshire, then rowed 2 more years at Iona College
- Worked as a floor whip at the 2016 Republican convention
- Joined the National Guard
- Sold ads for a radio station and Hearst Media
- Worked for candidates in Michigan
- Gathered voting data throughout the Midwest (and lived out of his car while doing so).
Will loves Westport; it’s “artsy, accepting, nice and friendly.” His parents are still here. But having seen so much of the rest of the country — and meeting so many different people in Walmarts, campgrounds and other places — he knows this town is a bubble.
So when he heard about a crepe shop next to a comedy club in New Jersey that was making a killing, he had an idea for his next venture.
Ta da! Will is now the owner of Bean n’ Batter. The waffles/granola/coffee bar opened earlier this month.
In downtown Bridgeport.
At 855 Main Street — directly across from People’s Bank headquarters — it’s already drawing raves. It’s one more piece in what Bridgeport boosters hope is the long-talked-about, hopefully-here-at-last renaissance of the once-thriving city.
Will has hopped on the Bridgeport bandwagon. One corner of the restaurant is filled with photos of the historic past, including colorful mayor P.T. Barnum, and John F. Kennedy’s raucous rally 2 days before the 1960 presidential election.
Nearby residents and office workers alike are making Bean n’ Batter their place. They like the food, and the homey vibe.
“People are so receptive to what we’re doing,” Will says. “They like our prices — and that we’re not Starbucks.
“This is a great city,” he adds. “There’s so much going on — like the amphitheater next to Webster Bank Arena.” That’s just a few blocks away — under the I-95 overpass — from the new hot breakfast spot.
Before opening Bean n’ Batter, Will admits, he did not know much about Connecticut’s largest city — just a few miles from his hometown.
Now he urges Westporters to discover Bridgeport — and not just attractions like the Barnum and Discovery Museums, Beardsley Zoo and Seaside Park. Will has discovered fantastic restaurants like Pantanal, a Brazilian BBQ and buffet place on Frank Street.
Mayor Joe Ganim and several City Council members came to Bean n’ Batter’s grand opening. So did State Senator Will Haskell. His district does not include Bridgeport — but he was there to support a new business in a nearby city (and one opened by a fellow Staples grad).
Which leads to one final thought: If Bean n’ Batter really takes off, it may expand.
Perhaps to Westport.
You know: the other town — besides Bridgeport — that has Will Hamer’s heart.