Friday Flashback #156

Regular readers know “06880” often laments the loss of things that make a town a community.

Movie theaters. Mom-and-pop shops.

And bars.

I’m talking about real bars. Not bars attached to restaurants, like so many places in town: Spotted Horse, Tavern on Main, Arezzo, Little Barn, you name it.

And not restaurants with very active bars, like Viva’s and the Duck.

No. I mean actual, go-and-stay-and-drink-and-maybe-have-peanuts-but-a-place-where-everybody-knows-your-name bar.

The Westport equivalent of Cheers.

Parsell’s Purcell’s was that kind of bar, on the Post Road near Southport. So was the Red Galleon, across from Green’s Farms Elementary School.

Ship’s Lantern was too, downtown on the Post Road (before it become The Ships nearby — which today is Tiffany 🙁 ).

Then there was “The Bridge.”

Formally Ye Olde Bridge Grill — though there was nothing formal about it — The Bridge sat on Post Road West, right over the bridge (aha!), a couple of doors down from National Hall (at the time, Fairfield Furniture), and directly opposite Art’s (now Winfield) Deli.

It was around for years, but hit its stride in the 1970s and ’80s. With generous owner Dave Reynolds, popular manager/bartender Dennis Murphy, a large and loyal bunch of regulars, and a jukebox that played the same songs over and over and over again (“Domino” by Van Morrison, anyone?), The Bridge was the kind of gathering spot we just don’t have any more.

Owner Dave Reynolds …

(It was also the sponsor of an Under-23 soccer team of the same name. Stocked with the best Westport players of its time, and their friends from the college and semi-pro ranks, it won all kinds of state and regional championships. After every match, players and fans celebrated you-know-where.)

… and manager Dennis Murphy (standing, left). He coached the Bridge Grille team to many state titles.

Things change. Rents rose. The drinking age rose too, from 18 to 21.

The Bridge has been gone for 3 decades or so. Today it’s an antiques shop, or something like that.


29 responses to “Friday Flashback #156

  1. Maria Matluck

    What was the name of the bar that was where the Playhouse is now? Does anyone remember Arnie’s Arcade where Balducci’s is now?

  2. Jack (Barfly) Backiel

    Dan writes: ‘Parsell’s was that kind of bar, on the Post Road near Southport. So was the Red Galleon, across from Green’s Farms Elementary School.’ ( I used to go to these two bars between 1968 and 1979!) I knew all the bar flies at these two bars.

    • I remember a garden supply store named Parcels when we lived in Westport from 1955-62. Alan Parcell, the owner, served as first selectman prior to our moving there.

      • Michael Calise

        Alan Parcel was long time member of the RTM and prior to that chairman of the Board of Education. Never First Selectman although he could have filled the shoes with ease!

    • Purcell’s had great pizza, and beer in pitchers. Red Galleon had a stripper for a while.

  3. Bottom pic is Bobby Christianson, Dave Reynolds, Rick McMasters (I think) and Murph. Lots of good time there for sure.

  4. Terry Brannigan

    In addition to being the official sponsoyofbthe U21 soccer team it was also the U18 drinking team!

    • Kevin McCaul

      Oh yes, fond memories of 1981. $.75 Miller Lite, shuffleboard games, surly bartenders, high school girls, sticky table tops, fist fights averted, patrons relieving themselves in the parking lot, “UCONN”, etc. Good ol’ days!

  5. You should have posted a picture of the back door. Nobody used the front door.

  6. Kathryn Coster

    Bob Christianson aka “The Turk”? Those were the days my friends…

  7. If memory serves correctly, and much as I loved Parsell’s Garden Mart, I believe the bar up on the Southport line was Purcell’s.

  8. Leslie Petersen

    I loved the Bridge in the 70’s and all the cute SLU
    soccer boys in it!

  9. Complete with underage drinking, rumbles with kids from Weston, and sneers at the ‘art crowd’ drinking sangria at the wine /jazz place next door…er, forgot the name, perhaps a byproduct of my time spent at The Bridge…

  10. Tom Kashetta

    The old Westport. Those were the days. Dave Reynolds was the best. I wish he would bring it back. Many great memories…….

  11. RE: The Bridge…anybody remember a character named “Bogash.” Me and my cohort were too often over-served there.

  12. What about Ann’s Suburban? What was the story on that bar?

  13. Re your statement: “…Stocked with the best Westport players of its time, and their friends from the college…”

    When U-23 play started in the summer of 1974, I would say that Bridge Grill was actually only the second best team in Westport. The club I played for, Real Westport, had four or five starters from the fall 1974 UCONN varsity team—including All-American (and future US National Team member) Tim Hunter; that UCONN team was New England champs in ‘74 and lost only one or two games the entire season. We also had Steve McCoy, who finished his collegiate career that fall as Duke’s third leading all-time scorer.

    However, Bridge Grill scored an upset win over us that summer and they never looked back (although neither of our teams somehow was able to win the U-23 state cup that summer).

    I do remember “Free Ride” by Edgar Winter constantly playing on the jukebox.

  14. if memory serves, dave reynolds was also assistant and JV golf coach at staples (under legendary head coach joe folino) in the mid-70s. back when the varsity teams included john cooper, matthew panos, brian claar (future pga tour rookie of the year), dave wells, chuck durakis, mike hooper and lou yannotti. 1975, 1977 and 1979 connecticut golf state champions!! i believe dave lived in the house behind the 6th green at longshore at the time. anybody remember “Teddy”?

  15. Hanne Jeppesen

    I lived in Westport in 1967 and most of 1968,I was an au pair from Denmark. I moved to NYC in 1969, but would often visit Westport on week ends for the next few years. I remember the Red Galleon, the Bridge and most of all the “Ships”. It was our favorite hang out, if someone took a picture from the Ships, especially the summer of 1968, you would have a good chance of finding me in the picture along with one of my au pair girl friends, and some Westport and Weston natives. Too name a few Alan Sterling, his brother Doug, Jeff Simon, Val Treadwell, Steve Gjuresko and Dick DePalma. The winter and spring of 1968 my Swedish girl friend hang out a lot with 2 great guys (just platonic buddies, but did we have fun) Larry Kelly and Dave Biggs. In fact I have a picture or 2 from inside the ships with myself and Larry and Dave.
    So many wonderful memories.

  16. Elaine Marino

    You can view the Westport News (no subscription) from July 4, 1980, and read about local soccer matches, including those of Bridge Grille. What really caught my eye was the detailed article about a boys soccer team from Denmark, which had visited Westport in the summer of 1980:

  17. Dave Stalling

    The Bridge!

    Great memories of nights I don’t remember. . .

    I think.

    I do remember buying a pitcher of beer, holding it up, and shouting “This one’s on me!” As people headed over with empty glasses, I poured it over my head. Understandably, I was banned for awhile.

    I remember Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” playing on the juke box while we made shark-fin motions with our hands.

    There was a large, mounted sturgeon on the wall with a beer bottle in its mouth. I think my brother Bob, or one of his friends, now have it hanging in their basement.

    The Bridge is also where I invented face-dancing. (Yup, I take credit for that.) It was usually too crowded to actually dance, so I would ask folks if they wanted to “face-dance,” and proceed to make odd, crazy, rapid and silly movements with my eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows and cheeks . . .

    To the rhythm of “Mack the Knife,” of course . . .

    I think.