Roundup: Commuters’ Coffee, Brook Cafe, Cold Fusion …


The variety store at curve, where Riverside Avenue becomes Railroad Place — once known as Desi’s Corner — will soon become “Uncle Leo’s.” A small sign says simply “Steam Coffee Tea.”

There’s no indication when the renovation will be done.

It’s good news for train riders, who have been without a coffee shop on that side of the tracks since Commuter Coffee closed in 2018.

Let’s hope — for Uncle Leo’s sake — that there are soon actual rail commuters for his “Steam Coffee Tea.”

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)


First,  Cold Fusion hung the Remarkable Guy — a remnant of the long-ago book store across Main Street from the new gelato shop — on its wall.

Now it’s paying homage to another iconic ancestral neighbor.

The original Ice Cream Parlor was a few doors down — where Brandy Melville is now.

It moved twice, eventually ending up on the Post Road diagonally across from the Westport Country Playhouse. That’s where it was in 1966, when this ad appeared in a Playhouse playbill. Longtime Westporter (and, no doubt, longtime Ice Cream Parlor fan) Paula Schooler gave it to Cold Fusion.

In addition to the Ice Cream Parlor’s brunch, lunch and dinner offerings, and penny candies (“the largest assortment under the sun”), the ad touted Terpsichore. That was the restaurant’s discotheque — “Westport’s first” — with “Go-Go Girls in their Bird Cages.”

From ice cream to gelato — and go-go girls to #MeToo — we’ve come a long way, baby.


One of the few good things to come out of the pandemic is that the New York Times wedding announcements are a lot more interesting.

When fewer couples got married last year, the paper began writing actual stories out of how they meet, and how their relationships developed.

Here’s the lead in one “Vows” story in the Styles section yesterday:

On a summer evening in a previous century, Garrett Foster, then 27, summoned up his courage and entered a gay bar for the first time. At the Brook in Westport, Conn., which, until it closed, was the oldest continually operating gay bar in the country, he laid eyes on Brian Murray, then 31. Mr. Murray had once been a regular, but that was his first night there in a while. Their connection was immediate.

“I knew I was going to spend my life with this man,” Mr. Foster said. What he couldn’t have guessed, was that he would legally marry him someday.

That marriage was July 13, 2021 — 31 years to the day after they first met. Click here for all the details.

Brian Murray (left) and Garrett Foster. (Photo courtesy of New York Times)


Haslea is the name of  Jeff Northrop’s new aquaculture company operating on Sherwood Mill Pond. After testing the concept a few years ago with Hummock Island Shellfish, he began developing a more streamlined approach to growing bivalves on the oyster grounds that have been in his family since the 1700s.

Haslea plans to use the Mill Pond not to maximize production, but as an R&D pond for selective breeding oysters for disease resistance. It’s part of a larger natural oyster restoration along the coast they’re working on.

The company — including chief technology officer Luke Gray of MIT — has provisional patents for a new fully robotic growing system that could produce oysters for 1/10th the cost. It’s for offshore sites, and will not be used in the Mill Pond.

Co-founder Jonathan Goldstein moved to Westport recently, to help Jeff. He was previously with Compass in New York.

Chief operating officer Roberto Aguaya Diaz moved from Texas, where he postponed his MBA to help build Haslea. His family has an aquaculture background, with shrimp farms.

Aquaculture in the SherwoodoMill Pond.


“Native species do attract monarchs,” says Morgan Mermagen of today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

She hopes this photo — and others like it — to plant with those ideas in mind.

(Photo/Morgan Mermagen)


And finally … I don’t know how, but I missed a big anniversary. It was 40 years ago yesterday that MTV began broadcasting. The first video was, as everyone knows …


5 responses to “Roundup: Commuters’ Coffee, Brook Cafe, Cold Fusion …

  1. Way to go Captain Jeff‼️👏🇺🇸

  2. John D McCarthy

    Was hoping Uncle Leo’s was going to be a Seinfeld theme restaurant, but doesn’t look like it

  3. Donald Bergmann

    I and probably close to 100 residents who have been asking Jeff Northrop to let the neighborhood know about all the activity, noise, intrusion on solitude and bird life, storage, boating and other activities at the Mill Pond are stunned by this story in 06880. Since last winter, Jeff and his son Jeff Jr. have been stonewalling the neighbors and, I think, State officials and key town people such as Jim Marpe, Alicia Mozian, Michelle Perillle, the Mill Pond Preserve Committee and the Police, as to all the activity. Now there is a story in 06880 which raises many questions and provides no answers as to the concerns of all of us who so enjoy the pristine nature of the Mill Pond. I anticipate we will all hear from Jim and Alicia shortly since, to many of us, Jeff Northrop’s conduct has been woefully lacking in thoughtful transparency.

  4. nick thompson

    Does this means the temporary black chain link fencing is now permanent ?

  5. Jeff Northrop Jr.

    Don, we get the clear feeling that its your personal agenda to put our 241 year old oyster farm out of business. Let’s put that aside for a second. You asked for transparency. Are you not aware that the answers to all of your questions have been posted on the town website since July?

    Speaking of transparency, why don’t you publish the email chain you originated among some 30+ people where the clear goal is to try to get rid of us at any cost? Or we will publish them, there are hundreds. My gut tells me some of the names on that list don’t want to be associated with your crusade.