Last week’s Friday Flashback featured one of Westport’s favorite long-time restaurants: Allen’s Clam House.
Readers flooded the Comments section with memories.
Another seafood spot — The Clam Box — was not as long-lived as Allen’s. (Not much else was, either.)
It wasn’t on the water. But its Post Road location, near what eventually became the Sherwood Island Connector near I-95 (“Connecticut Turnpike”) Exit 18 made it a popular spot to meet and eat. Owner Steve Zakos was the well-known host.
It was also a popular spot for local politicians. For years they met in the upstairs dining room, and hammered out deals. They may or may not have had the blinds drawn, but this was way before the days of “sunshine laws.”
The Clam Box burned down, was rebuilt, and eventually became Tanglewoods and then Bertucci’s. Now the big space at the foot of Long Lots Road has been divided. It houses Ignazio’s Pizza, Shearwater Coffee, and One River Art + Design.
But before all that, the spot looked like this:
Yep — that’s the building that eventually became the Clam Box, on the right. A hay truck trundles up the Post Road, toward Roseville Road.
Thanks to Bob Grant, who posted this photo on Facebook. And thanks to all the “06880” readers, who will now post Clam Box memories on the Comments page.
The Clam Box was where I First met the woman who became my wife, when she came to town to interview for a teaching job in the Westport School System.
For years the Staples Wrestling Team, coached by Saul Pollack, held its post season awards night at The Clam Box…the “show” accompanying dinner involved Dick Agness, Elliot Kraut and me…and a host of team members’ parents.
What did your “show” consist of?
David, Marianne was the “who”. The Clam Box was the “where”. What was the “how” of meeting her?
Take out was a weekly event in our house. And many sports banquets were played out upstairs. When it sadly closed up it sprung back to some life when the fryolator and some of the cooks opened the Westfair Fish and Chips seafood takeout behind the Greens Farms strip mall.
Chip, It was at the back of Westfair Shopping Center. ( Ihave to cringe calling it a shopping center, but they did move there.) They had the Clam Box recipes! The Rhode Island clam chowder was the best I ever had! How I miss the Clam Box! Also, a high five to Bob Grant, one of the old timers!
Before the Clam Box there was a small restaurant called “The American Way” which sold hamburgers – really thick burgers, not the flatties we get today, and they were expensive at 35 cents. The American Way didn’t last long but must have been in the building seen in the vintage photo.
Peter, You are dating yourself, and have a good memory. Does anyone know when the Clam Box was built, and became the Clam Box?
The Clam Box’s ample patron area & seating made if a go-to spot for Town employee events like going-away luncheons. In about 1979, 25 or so Town employees & municipal officials gathered to celebrate some such event.
The luncheon was attended by 1st Selectman Jackie Henage, a few department heads and Aspetuck Valley Health District officials among others. The special of the day was fresh-caught, local bluefish.
Unfortunately, the catch must have been on the boat too long, because everyone who ordered bluefish developed severe salmonella-like symptoms later that day & evening.
Health Department officials (none of whom had ordered the special) determined the likely cause was scombroid poisoning from bacteria tainted bluefish.
Growing up in the 50’s / 60’s, the Clam Box was one of my two favorite restaurants (the other being the Arrow, of course). I loved the “Ruby Red” stuffed shrimp among many other dishes. I still can remember the smell as you walked by the door to the kitchen!!
Imagine how popular both of those restaurants would be today….there’s nothing like either of them in Fairfield County.
I bussed tables there during my junior and senior years at SHS—awesome N.E. clam chowder and onion rolls. My mother hated that I reeked of fish when I came home.
My first real job, waitressing at the Clam Box. Learning to carry those huge trays full of lobster dinners was an education. Our senior class had its after graduation party there….an all nighter, parents invited, with dancing to a jazz band of very famous musicians put together by my mom and her best buddy
and co worker, Dick Hazelton, the Town Crier photographer at the time. Another story….
My first big girl job, waitressing at the Clam box. Learning to carry those big trays full of lobster dinners was an education. We had our after graduation party there, an all nighter, parents invited, and danced to the music of a bunch of very famous jazz musicians who were friends of my mom’s best buddy and co-worker at the Town Crier, Dick Hazelton. That’s another story in itself….
I worked as a hostess handing out menus and seating people Supper was part of the wage
One evening a patron accidentally spilled a drink all over my peach colored shirt dress They kindly offered to get the dress cleaned I said thank you my father is a local dry cleaner.Dad knew Steve Zakos who sent a payment anyway We were Sunday regulars at the restaurant or takeout.Another great story was my brother was rejected for military service for a serious medical condition so we went to the Clam Box to eat My talkative brother says to the waitress I got rejected for military service Waitress glared at him and said my son is serving in Vietnam.He apologized and we left a large tip.Then the waitress said thanks A great place and food for its era His manager Mitch opened Westfair Fish as a fish market in the front.When he sold it it moved to the back and became a takeout fish place which is still quite good
When I came to Westport in 1964 to begin my teaching career, new teachers were welcomed to the town by the superintendent and board by an event in the upstairs room at the Clam Box. It was at the Clam Box that I discovered lobster.
Can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday! However, on Friday June 13, 1958 I vividly recall spending graduation night at the Clam Box with approximately 230 fellow grads from SHS. Fun and frivolity and then off to Compo to sleep on the sand until we all looked like lobsters!
During the mid-50s I was a Clam Box busboy, later a host, and then got involved in the production end of things as a salad guy, dessert guy, etc., during my college summers. The restaurant business is really tough. The Clam Box wasn’t air-conditioned until my last summer there (1958), and getting home after an 8-hour day in that kitchen I would lie down on the living room floor and go to sleep. Still, I learned a lot, both about restaurants and about life. The Clam Box was a Westport institution, no doubt about it.
Don, Did you know a couple of waitresses named Loy or Josephine (Jo) Ryzak?
Hi, Jack. I do remember — faintly — a waitress named Loy, and definitely remember Josie Ryzak, who was my boss when I was a host. Great lady. She had been there for years, then sort of retired to stay home with family. There was a dustup with her replacement (forgotten the details) and Steve Zakos brought Josie back in triumph.
Don, Josie Ryzak was my father’s cousin. Loy was my father’s sister.
a Long long time ago my mom would drive us to Assumption school where I attended K-2 grade. The car was freezing in the morning but I remember it would start to warm up when we hit the Clambox from my North Maple Ave home! I never got to eat there but that memory sticks with me!