For a couple of months, Westporters gazed longingly at the old Elvira’s/Joey’s by the Shore on Hillspoint Road. A sign promised that the Old Mill Grocery & Deli would open this summer.
Our long wait is almost over. The new owners have found a great local operator, poised to begin the last week of July.
It will be run by …
…. TGB Hospitality Group.
Doesn’t sound familiar? This will: TGB stands for “The Granola Bar.”
One of Westport’s favorite coffee shop/bakeries takes over one of our town’s most historic properties. For 103 years, the wooden building by Old Mill Beach has served the neighborhood, beachgoers, and everyone else who works or passes through the area.
Previous owners Hal and Betsy Kravitz searched hard for a buyer. They could not find one. Finally — just after they sold all their equipment — a group of nearby residents led by Jim Hood, Ian Warburg, Chris Tait and Emily Ashken Zobl formed a non-profit to buy the building, and keep it as a market/deli.
Their fundraising was phenomenal. But they’re not pizza chefs and coffee makers.
They met with about 20 potential operators. The Granola Bar was the perfect fit.
Owners Julie Mountain and Dana Noorily have a great reputation. They know and love Westport. They’re pros — but they’re also fun to work with.
They had even thought about buying the building, when it was up for sale last year. But, Julie notes, “we serve food. We’re not in the real estate business.”
Since opening 9 years ago, The Granola Bar has been an integral part of Westport. “We live here. We see the people we serve every day. Our kids are in the schools. These are all our friends, our neighbors,” Mountain notes.
Mountain and Noorily have expanded. TGB Hospitality Group now includes 6 restaurants, a catering business, food truck and restaurant consultancy.
But the Old Mill Grocery & Deli will not be The Granola Bar 2.0. It’s forging its own identity.
The “beach food” menu will include pastas, sandwiches, salads, wraps, smashburgers, and fresh fruits, vegetables and bread. TGB baker Rick Dickinson will provide the pizza dough. Breakfast food is both healthy and “indulgent.” There will be meals to please the night crowd too — and charcuterie boards to bring to the beach. (Old Mill Grocery will deliver to the Compo drop-off point, too.)
Plus, of course, ice cream.
Noorily calls it “an elevated place the serves elevated food.”
“This community saved the building. They’ll get a year-round restaurant and market,” Hood says. (The “market” includes staples like butter, milk, eggs and paper towels.) That’s great news for the 750 homes within a 3/4-mile radius.
“This is not a lift. It’s a full Botox,” Mountain says.
It’s also a fulfillment of the investors’ mission, to provide training and jobs for people with special needs and disabilities.
The new owners have done plenty of due diligence: first creating a non-profit, then purchasing the building, now finding the perfect operators.
In a few days, the next chapter in this historic story begins.
(Old Mill Grocery & Deli hopes to open on or around July 25. Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m, 7 days a week. Click here for more information; follow on Instagram @oldmillgrocery.
(Soundview Empowerment Alliance — the nonprofit organization behind the community effort — seeks donors interested in “naming rights” for major items. They range from an espresso machine and pizza oven to re-shingling and a new roof. For more information email SoundviewEmpowerment@gmail.com.)
(Like Old Mill Grocery, “06880” is a community resource. Please click here to help support this blog.)