Newest Menu Item: Valet Parking

Bartaco, OKO and the newly opened Meatball Shop are 3 very different restaurants.

But they share 2 things: popularity and parking.

The Mexican, Japanese and Italian-American spots are packed, for lunch and dinner. The National Hall and nearby parking lots are often full — especially during the day, when spots are reserved for employees of nearby offices.

There’s a parking deck across the street. But for various reasons — some people don’t like driving up the narrow ramp; crossing Wilton Road can be dicey; others may not even know it’s there — that option is underutilized.

The other day, representatives of the 3 restaurants sat together. Instantly, they agreed on a solution: valet parking.

The old Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road is now OKO restaurant. The Meatball Shop is behind is on the right; Bartaco is behind on the left. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Working together — and with the blessing of the new owner of the entire complex — they hired We Park, a Wilton-based firm.

Just as quickly, the service began. Valet parking is available 7 days a week, for lunch and dinner.

You don’t have to tell the valet what restaurant you’re going to. In fact, you don’t have to eat at all. The service is there if you just want to stroll along the boardwalk, admiring the river and lights.

A beautiful boardwalk connects OKO, The Meatball Shop and Bartaco. (Photo by Anne Hardy)

“We’re all in this together,” says Brian Lewis, owner of OKO. “We want everyone who comes here to feel our hospitality. We all have the same goals: to take care of our guests. Whatever brings people here is good for all of us.”

He says that — like the other owners — he appreciates (and dines at) the nearby restaurants.

The owners appreciate too the receptiveness of the new National Hall owners. They’ve already repainted the lines in the parking lot, and added directional signs.

Coming soon: More signs for the valet service.

Though probably not in Spanish, Japanese or Italian.

13 responses to “Newest Menu Item: Valet Parking

  1. Kudos! Innovation like this will keep our town’s restaurants vibrant and makes them an easy choice. Looking forward to a more relaxing visit soon :).

  2. Laura Fishman

    This makes sense!!



  3. Morley Boyd

    I recently tried out the special flashing lights which are mounted on top of huge, 16 foot tall steel towers on either side of the crosswalk from the parking garage on Wilton Road. You press a button and these things start flashing at the oncoming traffic in both directions. It’s the same system the town now wants to erect on Myrtle Avenue to make residents think its proposed crosswalk on a blind curve is a good idea. Anyway, I pressed the button to light up the steel Christmas trees and then waited at the edge of the crosswalk. Nobody ever stopped. They didn’t even slow down. I finally saw a gap in the traffic and crossed without incident. Just for the heck of it, it tried crossing back and forth a few more times. Nope. Flashy-no-workie. When I returned to the parking garage about an hour later the lights were still flashing. I guess I broke it. Not that it matters.

    • Ha! Flashy is STILL flashing four days after I pressed his button.
      What a fabulously effective safety device.

  4. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    We talk about the imperative of the GND and then we wax poetically about the joys of valet parking. All the while that our BMI’s keep on rising along with the size of our carbon footprint. Well, after all this is Rod Serling’s hometown.

  5. Thank you Dan. Excellent and so thankful that you tell me/us about all these wonderful changes and additions to “life” in Westport. ❤️❤️❤️

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Catherine Hurwitz

    FINALLY! Westport joins the Civilized word! my shoes are so happy now 🎈🎊🎉🥳🎉🎊🎈

    Sent from my iPad

  7. So on Tuesday we took on a shattering 32 million more in debt to address Coleytown School mold. And on Thursday, a story appeared about the need to build a lavish, taxpayer financed bridge from the parking lot on the east side of the river to the parking starved businesses on the west side. However, we were given to understand that this really was because everyone sold their SUVs on Ebay last week and now would like to walk everywhere – and would do so if it weren’t so scary with all the SUVs driving around. Then, today we learn that walking has been cancelled and SUVs are back on. OK, I’m just having a bit of fun with the fake eco-weenies and virtue signalers – most of whom only walk to their cars. I totally sympathize with the businesses on the West side and hope the new approach works out for everyone.

  8. Chip Stephens SHS73

    Lets see. The Planning and Zoning Commission foresaw this situation a few years back and a couple iterations of dining spots back at National Hall. As the feel good feeling and “Experiential Experience” of the new West Bank was and is laudable, parking was seen as a immediate concern. Part of the approval at the time was the requirement for valet parking. That did not seem to last.

    Then new tenants, then asks for share parking relief, now new office complex (which has own parking which was spill over parking for Nat Hall) and soon new condo complex there, and just for kicks I seem to remember there is one more dining spot approved but not there yet.

    P and Z is told by developers and consultants on most every project “There is no traffic problem and less parking will be needed” Wilton Rd ias an example s a known nightmare and parking is an issue there now.

    P and Z tries to consider limitations on over development or alternative requirements to deal with congestion but are routinely questioned and criticized for standing in the way of growth and vitalization. Alternatives like deck parking will only exasperate the traffic situation flowing in and out and walking the equivalent of two NYC blocks from parking almost always available is not popular with most.

    Public transportation is not likely due to past history of extreme under use and costs. We are a classic New England town with streets that can’t be expanded and rare and costly land available for parking. I have seen other businesses in other towns offer Uber/Lyft vouchers, other town merchants provide satellite parking jitneys and others simply enjoy the walk.

    I for one am not complaining or whining but looking for support and suggestions as new development occurs so we don’t look back and criticize and don’t get overheated in traffic wondering why. Send your suggestions to the P and Z office or attend applications that have to do the projects like this when they apply. JMHO

  9. Joshua Stein

    may have missed it… but what is the cost? can one still self-park and walk across the street?

    • Michael Calise

      Base fee of $5 plus a buck a door. pay up and be happy!

      • Joshua Stein

        well based on my past experiences of valets scratching and denting vehicles, i’d rather self-park, hence why i was asking if its still possible to self-park. the energy to go around your vehicle, document it in pictures, record mileage, etc, can be a drag. most people wont care and just hand over keys but that is not how i roll. i also had a car taken for a 70 mile joy ride once when i left it overnight somewhere. to each their own.