Unsung Heroes #239

The ink is still drying on the contract. Supply chain issues are delaying some equipment. The operator has not yet been finalized.

But the Old Mill Grocery lives!

For a couple of years, the future of the market/deli/community center on Hillspoint Road by Old Mill Beach was in doubt. The small, century-old wooden building could have been sold to developers, who were hungry to tear it down and replace it with a (very) high-priced home.

But Hal and Betsy Kravitz — owners of Joey’s by the Shore, the most recent iteration of what was previously Elvira’s, Kenny’s and (originally) the Old Mill Grocery — were willing to listen to the community.

Hal and Betsy Kravitz, after buying Elvira’s.

They worked with Jim Hood, Ian Warburg, Chris Tait and Emily Ashken Zobl — Westporters with long ties to the area — to save the deli.

Tom Febbraio — the Fairfield restaurateur who grew up around the corner — helped get a mortgage from Fairfield County Bank.

From left: Ian Warburg, Jim Hood and Emily Ashken Zobl helped organize the project. When this photo was taken, Chris Tait was out in the street soliciting donations.

A few folks pitched in big bucks. Scores of residents (and former residents) added whatever they could.

When mortgage negotiations took (surprise!) longer than expected, Hal and Betsy extended their deadline.

Now Old Mill Grocery and Deli — OMG! — lives. It will open this summer, probably with a soft launch.

Employees will include people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Bill and Andrea Pecoriello — owners of Sweet P Bakery and The Porch @ Christie’s, which helped pioneer that hiring model locally — are important supporters.

After nearly a century, the original name will be back.

It’s a win-win-win, feel good story.

So Jim, Ian, Chris, Emily, Tom, Bill and Andrea are all this week’s Unsung Heroes. And if you contributed any funds to the cause — $10,000 or $10 — you join them as honorees.

In a town and world “starved” for good news, this takes the cake.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email 06880blog@gmail.com)

7 responses to “Unsung Heroes #239

  1. Ellen Dale Naftalin

    Thank goodness. This is wonderful news.

  2. Sandy Rothenberg

    Congratulations, so happy for you all and can’t wait for my iced coffee on my walk!!

  3. Fred Cantor

    Two thumbs up! And I hope you will still be able to bring orders to the front door for those of us who have immune system problems. Thanks!

  4. Tom Feeley Sr

    Thanks Jim. Best of luck‼️ Do you ship to Florida ⁉️😂😂

  5. Cristina Negrin

    I’m really glad “Grub’s”❤️ is going to stay on but wondering from a previous post that $3 million plus $1 million were raised . Anyone else wonder why so much $ is needed for a startup?

  6. Totney Benson

    I believe the amount raised was designed to cover the purchase price as well as to purchase much of the equipment that needed to be newly acquired, and likely some renovations as well. We are beyond delighted that this wonderful of people took on the challenge, and succeeded in developing a plan that we believe is very workable and an amazing asset to our community. Proud to be a part of this venture and can’t wait til it opens!