Friday Flashback #296

As Westporters wait for the final announcement that Elvira’s Deli has been saved — it’s coming soon! — and at the same time gnash our teeth over the stuck-in-zoning-infraction-limbo large residential construction that replaced Positano’s/ Cafe de la Plage across the street — we keep hearing references to “Allen’s.”

From 1890 through the 1990s, Captain Walter Allen’s clam house on Sherwood Mill Pond — a few yards from the long-lived market — was one of our town’s go-to restaurants. It was the perfect place for shellfish, seafood, and killer water views, while celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and anything else.

Allen’s Clam House, in the 1940s.

A list of Westporters who had their first dates there would be a window on town history.

Westport artist Hardie Gramatky painted this view of the Mill Pond, from the back of Allen’s Clam House

Today, Allen’s is the site of the town-owned Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve. With natural grasses and plants, a wide variety of wildlife, a kayak launch — and the same killer views — it’s a wonderful use of the property.

Aerial view of Allen’s Clam House. (Photo courtesy of Dave Stalling)

But it sure was nice to have it — and Positano’s — as a pair of waterfront restaurants for all those years.

Rear view of Allen’s, on the Mill Pond. (Photo/Matt Murray)

24 responses to “Friday Flashback #296

  1. Mark Graham

    Thanks for the memories…of anniversaries and special occasions gone by…

  2. Paul Lowenstein

    I valeted cars one summer at Allen’s, as well as my brother before me.

  3. Alan Goldberg

    Positano was a newby to that location. Cafe de La Plage was it’s predecessor. A wonderful little hideaway with the first salad bar many of us had ever seen.

  4. Adam L Starr

    Fondly remember both Allen’s and Cafe de la Plage (“San Francisco Cuisine” according to the sign). whenever we would get stuck on Hillspoint Road behind a slow moving car with NY plates, we would guess – or bet – which one they were looking for.

  5. Jonathan McClure

    When I was a boy, my family lived in Northern New Jersey and my Grandmother lived in Scarsdale, NY. I remember my parents, sister and I driving to Westport to meet my Grandmother at Allen,s Clam House several times – it was one of her favorite restaurants. She regularly drove from Scarsdale to dine there with friends and family. Sadly, by the time I grew up and moved to Westport, it was already gone.

  6. Dan, What IS the story behind that failed construction project (former Positano site) that has been blighting this otherwise picturesque waterfront going on two years now? Have you or other local media written about it?

  7. Arthur Klausner

    OK, one Allen’s story from when our family spent summers at Compo Beach back in the 1970s. Allen’s was the location of my parents’ typical Saturday “date night” (and yes, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were often seen entertaining there on those evenings — usually, as I understand, at separate(!) tables). Anyway, my Dad considered himself a bit of a history buff and once got into a discussion with Allen’s owner (operator?) about World War 2. The whole discussion just didn’t seem right to my Dad… until he realized that Mr. Uccellini had FOUGHT FOR THE OTHER SIDE. Fond memories indeed.

  8. David J. Loffredo

    It’s a shame that there are no “Sound-front” restaurants in Westport aside from whatever the latest incarnation of the Inn at Longshore place is called. So many beautiful water views, so little public access.

    No chance the walkable locals shed a tear when Allen’s finally went away, they’re the reason Positano’s is now a failed residential construction site. I’m sure some well heeled insiders kept another restaurant from being built – the park is fine – but unnecessary.

    Westport should build a waterfront restaurant in the Compo Beach parking lot – move the kayaks to somewhere more efficient – that’s prime waterfront dining real estate.

  9. Don’t forget about Allen’s Florida.
    When Westport location would close for the winter much of the team went to the Florida location that was only open in the wintertime

  10. Lauri Weiser

    I’m missing all our waterfront restaurants… many memories of coming with my parents (from Westchester) to Cafe de la Plage and Allen Clam House, special celebrations at Positano’s…Sad that Allen’s was left as open space, and worse that Cafe de la Plage/Positano’s was sold as a residential property. The failed construction site looks horrible and is an embarrassment to our beautiful town water views.

  11. Jeff Arciola

    That was a Diane Farrell deal. She gave the people of old mill what they wanted. What a shame. Allen’s Clam House was a classic that got torn down for political pressure.

  12. I’m old enough now and from Westport since 1960 to miss every such closings and the associated remanences at so many thta have disappeared -celebrations, graduations, marriages, retirements, first real loves ,starving and “we gotta go eat” birth to death, Is it life’s illusions I recall but I do remember life and all. David

  13. Angeline Kringel

    Thank you for the wonderful memories of when I first moved to Westport!
    I lived on Burnham Hill Road, as did my in laws. I’m told that my father-in-law, Jack Kringel, loved to dine at Allen’s; where he would enjoy his cocktails and his meal… and then walk home!

  14. Pam Kesselman

    I fondly remember Allen’s Clam House. It was fun to go there and eat on the water. I still would like to see an eatery there or an art venue where artists could paint and/or and show their work. An active use of this area could add another stimulating thing to do in Westport.

  15. Pam Kesselman

    I would also love to see a sign announcing Compo Beach at the
    95 bridge underpass on Compo Rd South and beautify that area with
    plants and flowers and gardens. It’s dark and ugly and could be
    uplifting to have a beautiful entrance to this treasure of ours.

  16. Tom feeley sr

    The day after the Town bought Allen’s I attended Diane Farrell’s Brown Bag lunch show. I asked if she was going to rent it out to a new restaurant. On NO she replied, it’s a disaster. We must tear it down. But it was operating ok yesterday. Well it has to come down. And we stopped wondering why she left town. She destroyed an income producing and tax revenue generating business for an ego trip.

  17. Susan Lloyd

    Our go to spot for all celebratory family dinners. Best seat by the window to watch the swans

  18. Seth Sholes

    Allen’s was amazing. Don’t forget how many people worked there. The full time waiters (the pro’s) and all the High School kids. Bus boys, dishwashers, valet, pantry, prep and cooks. Wayne fire me twice but always took me back.

  19. Laura Lawhon

    It was our family’s go-to for years. They had the best stuffed Maine lobster. My dad was treated as a friend to Mr Uccellini who always made time to welcome him. We moved to California but returned to Westport regularly in the summer to see my dad Pete Horelick and his family and my mom’s Borchetta family. As an adult we always made Allen’s and Mario’s a part of all the trips. I was so sad when these places became just very fond memories. Speaking of memories it is almost ten years now that my very best lifelong person, Westporter Donnie DePalma passed. Oh the memories..

    • Adam Starr

      yes, the baked stuffed Maine lobster was the best. thanks for refreshing my memory of stuffing myself with it while watching the swans on the Mill Pond.