Seeking Grace

Nômade is the newest entrant on the Westport dining scene.

The long-awaited successor to Tavern on Main has earned great praise — and many repeat customers — for its eclectic cuisine, fresh-looking interior, and imaginative use of the upstairs patio (including a big new bar).

But several residents are concerned about its tables, chairs and large umbrellas by the Main Street entrance. They block the view of Savvy + Grace — the gift-and-more store on the lower level — and make it difficult to enter.

Tables outside Savvy + Grace …

Molly Alger writes:

Annette Norton, the proprietor, is one of the most enthusiastic supporters of downtown Westport, and of ‘shop local, shop small.’ Her shop is a delight, filled with great merchandise, much of it Westport-, 06880- and Fairfield-themed.

She is a philanthropic initiator of fund-raising efforts in Westport, and a champion of trying to make downtown Westport the best it can be. It saddens me when downtown businesses do not support each other. Each one that thrives improves our downtown Westport experience.

… and an umbrella near the entrance on Friday. The landlord moved this umbrella stand from the Savvy + Grace entrance yesterday.  (Photos/Molly Alger)

I asked restaurant owner Ciara Webster for her side. She replied:

We are aware that whatever store is in that lower spot, is of course going to want their safe and visual access and and I believe we have been very sensitive to that.

Tavern on Main always had tables (exact same number as we now have). I believe they were laid out in an identical manner. It would be very wrong of us to do anything that might harm the business of the ground floor shop below us and of course to give our community space to walk unobstructed.

Nothing has changed. It’s been this way for 30-plus years. I’m not sure if Chez Pierre had an outdoor sidewalk seating area, but ever since it became ‘Tavern’ it has.

An undated photo, however, shows only 3 Tavern on Main tables, with 4 seats each, in front of Savvy and Grace. There are currently 7 tables, also with 4 seats each.

Tavern on Main tables. Umbrellas were down, until used.

Nômade’s owner notes that the seating is seasonal, and that outdoor seating is important for people still nervous about COVID. She adds: “We are very conscious to remember it is a privilege and to treat it as such.

“We really do believe that our small outside dining area, will we hope bring new customers to our retail stores. In fact if I had a retail store in the immediate vicinity I’d be thrilled for the exposure to people eating lunch and looking around. ”

This seems like a simple fix. Fewer tables; repositioning them away from the entrance, and keeping the umbrellas down until needed will allow everyone to enjoy a nice meal, followed by a great shopping experience.

Or vice versa.

(“06880” is a non-profit organization, supported entirely by readers. Please click here to help.) 


21 responses to “Seeking Grace

  1. Valerie Ann Leff

    For me, the arrival of a good new restaurant on Main Street sounds great for downtown merchants. The most shopping I did in the area happened when Aqua was in business—a place I liked to go for lunch. It seems like the two businesses here are working out their issues. Here’s to more restaurants and other venues that will help Main Street become more lively.

  2. Diane Silfen

    It looks like Nomade is just being a very unpleasant neighbor to Savvy and Grace. To bad. Savvy and Grace is a Westport treasure.

  3. Meredith Mueller

    I am also happy to gave a new restaurant downtown, but I agree that hurting a small business is not okay. I love what the owner of savvy has done for our town and her store front deserves to shine, not be in the shadows or background.

  4. Jack Backiel

    We all know the layout of downtown Post Road and Main St plus Church St, where the fire department was located. Dan published a picture a while back from 1919 with a wagon full of hay and a horse drinking water from a trough, by the intersection of Main and the Post Rd. That picture was from 103 years ago. But roads are the same. However, in 1919 you had maybe 5,000 residents, and now maybe 28,000. It’s cramped. When an extra two or so umbrellas causes a problem, it’s cramped.

  5. Susan Iseman

    Looks like S&G is being blocked. Period. I hope they can work out a solution !!!!!

  6. Melissa Augeri

    The response from the restaurant whether factual or not demonstrates that they are less than concerned and not respecting their neighbor and local business owner. Savvy and Grace has been a great addition to Westport and certainly helped support the community and fellow businesses through the pandemic. Let’s continue to support her and I hope the restaurant owners will realize it’s important to find a solution.

  7. How delightful to see the outdoor tables from Tavern on Main. Three lovely round metal tables making the area look like a Paris cafe. And not blocking any businesses. And umbrellas down until needed. Quite a contrast to these bulky ugly tables and dreadful large umbrellas dominating the sidewalk with the new restaurant.

  8. I think Nomad’s success is a plus for all the nearby boutiques. “Rising tides raise all ships.” Savvy and Grace, along with the rest of the neighbors, will benefit. The photo gives me a charming St Tropez feel. Having brunch outside while admiring the windows. Ladies lunching at outdoor tables will have a bird’s eye view into Savvy & Grace windows and be more inclined to walk in and shop.

    • Malcolm Watson

      Right idea there! The foot traffic had increased 5 fold and now they will get more business too

  9. Certainly no downstairs tables for more than the first decade of Tavern. Jacko, Kevin and Brandon had only the patio upstairs for outdoor dining.

    • That’s what I thought too. I never remember any sidewalk tables at Chez Pierre or Tavern on Main.

  10. Jocko- RIP, crazy sob

  11. Ciara Webster

    Yep… there were always tables there… they were in jacko and Kevin’s lease. I know because I saw their lease. It was the lease the landlord presented me with.
    Might not have exercised the right every year… but they were ALWAYS in it.
    And they were regularly used.
    I’ll look for the old pictures which I’ve seen… and post them if and when I have time to deal with this.

    • Diane Johnson

      Removing a few of the tables and lowering the umbrellas until in-use seems the right thing to do; anything short of this is simply poor form. We very much want to try your new restaurant as we loved Tavern on Main, but we won’t if you insist on jamming the sidewalk with too many tables, blocking the front of Savvy and Grace. Suggest you show a generosity of spirit by removing two tables and lowering the umbrellas because, again, it’s just the right thing to do….no matter what the lease says.

  12. Malcolm Watson

    I think we have to view the whole picture here. Downtown Westport is an ecosystem that needs symbiotic relationships.

    As a child I’d bike down to entertain myself at the Remarkable Bookshop, then get hungry and have a slice and an Italian ice at Westport Pizzeria.

    Now as an adult, I get wonderful gifts for my family at Savvy and Grace each year. Why because I know them and how great they are. Maybe someone knows only about Nômade or Savvy and leaves thinking, wow what is that cute place that is below or I’m kinda hungry and that place looks good!

    Downtown needs more revitalization after the pandemic. Let’s be a town that comes together. How about Nômade keeps an add for you in the restaurant and you tell people there is a nice place to eat at upstairs. Hype up one another’s places instead of arguing, there is enough to go around. And frankly if we all come together, well our houses will at leas he worth a lot more!

    I’m going to both places and let’s get our town together and thriving.

  13. Stacy Prince

    Wow. Scratch Nômade off the list of restaurants to try. What a half-hearted response. If I didn’t know better, I’d walk or drive by and assume the building behind the tables WAS the restaurant. Because why else would they be so willing to block signage and access?

  14. My thought is Nômade will bring more exposure and activity to Savvy & Grace. I imagine people placing their drink order and running in to S&G to see what they can purchase before their drinks arrive. Seems to be enough room for all to survive, and better yet, thrive.

  15. I’ll not scratch either businesses off my list but the blog commentary does leave me scratching my head. I’ve lived in Westport 22 years and my wife grew up here. I’ve never been to S & G but will try it next time I get a gift for my Mom because I’ve been to Nomade a few times and noticed it for the first time. I’m sure the dynamic works the other way for Main Street shoppers who’ve been to S&G and not Nomade. We’re hopefully coming out from under the crazy pandemic so why not experience and enjoy both establishments and the other businesses on Main Street without the blog bickering.

    As a commercial landlord for over 40 years in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and a board member of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, I occasionally experience disagreements between tenants and neighbors but there are means for resolution other than social media. I don’t think this blog should be used to air tenant grievances, it’s not good for either tenant and I can’t believe that’s the purpose of the blog. Leave the table placement up to the landlord, tenants and town zoning rules and let the public enjoy both businesses. Main street is a real treasure and many think it has more potential, new businesses help tap that potential.

  16. Olga duclaux

    Well said, Larry Hoy. Well said!

  17. Steph Palisades

    Ouch, not off to a great P.R. start when the restaurant owner says that she is “aware that whatever store”……an obvious shot at Savvy and Grace by not even using the store’s name.
    Maybe she and the Hocon guy can find someone together to help them understand some basics.