Cobb’s Mill Inn: The Saga Continues

The waterfall still flows. Mallards swim serenely nearby. From the outside, Cobb’s Mill Inn looks like it has for decades.

Inside though, the scene is different.

Closed by lawyers since 2016 — barely 48 hours after owner Drew Friedman died — Weston’s only full-service restaurant/event venue has undergone more than 7 years of legal wrangling.

Laura Friedman — Drew’s widow — says she’s the heir, and rightful owner. But the property was sold — illegally, she claims, and for far less than it’s worth.

During continuing litigation, Laura says, the new owners have shut off electricity and water.

I visited Cobb’s Mill on Saturday. Laura and Tony Villano, the former owner of Il Villano in Westport who is helping her in her fight to regain the property, showed me around.

Furniture from an estate sale fills the Cobb’s Mill dining room …

The chilly day was made colder by the lack of heat. Furniture stored from an estate sale filled every room.

… and near the fireplace …

But despite dust and disuse, the bar and fireplace looked like they had, during Cobb’s Mill Inn’s long heyday.

… and the bar. (All photos/Dan Woog)

And outside, 2 ducks paddled near the ever-flowing waterfall.

59 responses to “Cobb’s Mill Inn: The Saga Continues

  1. charles taylor

    1966 my sister Ann had her wedding rehearsal dinner party there. A beautiful occasion!

  2. Dan, we have so many good memories of the Cobb’s Mill Inn. For a long time Staples High School had all of its retirement parties there every year. Denise and I – we were both Staples teachers – enjoyed those great times with staff. I am unaware of the dispute over the restaurant’s ownership but I hope that whoever gets the property recreates the restaurant. It’s an extraordinary site. Good luck to Mrs. Friedman.

    • Good luck to Mrs. Friedman? She’s had an illegal squatter there which has thwarted the new owners from pursuing their dreams to reopen it…

  3. Somehow, someway this really special piece of history and one of the still easily preserved examples of earlier life in Connecticut in a unique setting must be saved!

  4. There’s far more to the story than you’ve presented here. I’d get the facts straight first.

    • Then what is the story?

      • Marisela Esposito

        Disgruntled widow in cahoots with a criminal to prevent historic Cobbs Mill from reopening due to greed!! She filed acquit claim deed giving Villano a share of CMI says alot about Friedman! what

  5. Melinda Hemson

    Found this article about the ongoing fight for Cobb’s Mill. Doesn’t seem like Mrs. Friedman has any legal right to the property. The article does not go into why there was an executer in charge instead of the property going to her directly. I don’t really know how that stuff works but it seems strange to me. I do feel bad for her though. She and her husband ran the place together so it seems a bit unfair.

    • Marisela Esposito

      How about the arrest of Villano, Laura’s “friend” and criminal record!! Says a lot about the bereaved widow and chosen friend and business partner

      • So sad! His 1980’s Westport place, Il Villano, was one of the top restaurants we ever had. Paul Newman was a regular. Robert Redford spotted there as well. But, certainly, his current situation does not speak well for Mrs. Friedman’s case.

        By the way, it should also be mentioned that the late Mr. Friedman owned another once-celebrated restaurant, Stonehenge. As with Cobbs Mill, Stonehenge was in decline in its final years, and closed abruptly upon his death.

  6. Eric Buchroeder

    “The Hamlet at Cobbs Mill.” Kind of has a nice ring to it.

  7. Marisela Esposito

    Laura’s got some cojones “During continuing litigation, Laura says, the new owners have shut off electricity and water.” Hallelujah to “new owners” no longer allowing continued freeloading! SQUATTERS & CRIMINALS GTF OUT!!

  8. If Mrs. Friedman had a legit case, she’d be telling the facts instead of a fable that the place was her inheritance. (Probate Court ruled otherwise.)

    Bigger issue: Mrs. Friedman is not capable of reopening a restaurant or any other business, having declared bankruptcy and therefore unable to borrow money.

    The Siquenzas are experienced restauranteurs and Weston residents who are better equipped to revive this long crumbling landmark which hasn’t been a professionally-managed restaurant for decades.

  9. There is way, way more to this story. Perhaps Weston PD can provide some details. And there is, naturally, a Westport connection.

  10. I worked there as a bus boy for 2 summers in 1964 and 1965. There were always rumors of diamond rings on the bottom of the pond that had slipped off women’s fingers as they threw bread to the ducks. Last table for 2 on the right in the main dining room was supposed to be where this happened. Remember, long ago they had no air conditioning and the windows overlooking the pond were open. Julie P. Jones and brother (or b-i-l) Dick Purchek (sp?) was a great people to work for.and with. We spent one summer remodeling the gift shop and creating the dining area under it. Great memories and a pretty good summer income.

  11. I hope the Cobbs Mill Inn’s problems gets resolved soon so that it can be renovated and reopen before weather and time destroy this historic gem in our beautiful town

  12. I believe the Westport Probate Court considered and rejected the widow’s claim of ownership, authorizing the estate’s executor to sell the property. Apparently he did so, in which case it is doubtful whether your companions had any right to conduct you on a tour of the premises.

  13. Michelle & Steven Saunders

    My husband and I have wonderful memories dining at Cobbs Mill Inn many years ago. I celebrated my 40th Birthday with a party at Cobbs Mill back in 2003. So sad to see what has happened. I would love to go back just once to reminisce the old days.

  14. Linda Pomerantz Novis

    I played piano for many years there, late 1980’s -early 1990’s,downstairs in the bar, windows overlooking the beautiful waterfall, there. Like clockwork, Every August, during humid summers and little rain, customers Always complaining to the bartender:’Where’s the waterfall? We came to see the waterfall!’ (as if Cobb’s Mill,there, was responsible for the waterfall..:-)

  15. Jennifer Ferguson

    I think that good journalism would compel you to explore both sides of this story. The real tragedy is that the people who bought the property more than a year ago, legally, have not been able to take Contol and access because of this woman. Illegally squatting there. Hence, a business was that could be a real asset to Weston and Westport is not able to operate and it’s an enormous financial drain and unrecoverable loss for the legal owners.

  16. My wife and I used to love this place. The view of the waterfall and the paddling ducks was enough to take your breath away on a warm summer evening. It broke our hearts when the place closed, and I hope open it can re-open as a restaurant again some time before I’m too old to enjoy it. It’s an appalling waste right now.

  17. Dan,
    You should have gotten the other side of the story from Cleber who owns The Harvest restaurant, he is the rightful owner. I am part of the estate of Drew Friedman and his former business partner. When Drew passed away the property that was in an LLC became part of the estate and was controlled by Attny. Tom Sargent, Laura had no ownership interest. The only litigation currently in progress is the eviction of laura and Tony Villano for trespassing. They have no ownership or rights to be on the property. Their next court hearing on the eviction is in May.

  18. Great memories of having lunch with Mom – at the Cobb’s Mill Inn – over 60 years ago…

  19. What is the point of this article? This sounds very sympathetic to Laura Friedman, when she is allowing a known criminal (
    to squat on the premises, thereby preventing the legal owners from renovating and opening it up. We, as residents of Weston are being denied the pleasure of the only somewhat upscale restaurant in our town. If you were inside the premises, it would seem you were trespassing (perhaps, unwittingly) as well.

  20. In rereading my comment, it sounds rather harsh. Perhaps you were totally unaware of this very frustrating situation that the citizens of Weston are dealing with. I hope you will do a little more research and perhaps do a correction or followup?

    • Thanks. I may have jumped the gun. Many of the comments above have fleshed out this situation well.

      • Marisela Esposito

        Lots more Laura has done like hiring a real estate agent to sell CMI when it was already sold. And she even admits she isn’t the current owner, per your blog “ During continuing litigation, Laura says, the new owners have shut off electricity and water.” The Siguenzas also paid the taxes on the property!!! Greed is ugly and shines the light on what is driving Laura. I am glad that you tagged her on your initial post. You should have done more research and interviewed all parties before posting. I’ve loved CMI for over 30 years and want it reopened again by people who love their community and their profession. Glad you tagged Laura on your initial post and perhaps she will realize that she is dragging herself through the mud instead of honoring her deceased husbands wishes, if she truly loved him and not just his money, she would gracefully move along!!

  21. I have fond memories of Cobbs Mill. I got married there in 1979.

  22. In the future versions of, ‘Where Wasteport Meets the World’, its safe to say we won’t be reading the continously added, ‘Dan Woog, SHS ’71 and Pulitzer Prize winner….’

    Shoddy journalism would be a compliment.

    Formerly of Weston.

    • Jean Whitehead

      Shoddy journalism? This is a blog, free to anyone who doesn’t feel like contributing $.
      Dan admits he may have jumped the gun.
      I so appreciate the work he does. He is passionate about sharing stories from his home town and surrounding area. I don’t get why you’re insulting him.
      Seems to be a complicated situation.

      • Eric Buchroeder

        You nailed it. Dan is not a journalist nor has he ever claimed to be. He is very good at putting “situations that need attention” front and center so that “concerned citizens” might wish to actually do something. Seems like he’s scored a direct hit this time.

        • Eric Buchroeder

          A person who presents all sides of an issue enabling recipients to draw reasonable conclusions and mutually beneficial consequences.

      • I fully agree with Jean on this.
        Personally I do not think Dan jumped the gun.
        And I happen to think that it smells extremely fishy.
        6 acres and a historic building on the water in Weston is not worth any less than 3 million
        Strange that when many were relocating from New York 2 years ago the cobbs mill inn was not being actively marketed for 1.1 million. I dare say it would have been snapped up in a huge bidding war.

        • I think when it went up for sale, the market was more depressed. Keep in mind, this is an OLD building that will take a lot of TLC to get it up and running. Maybe it would fetch more now, but it didn’t then. If you didn’t check out the info on the man squatting there now, you should. Might change your mind.

  23. Eva Rosenblatt

    Thank you Nick V. for sharing your knowledge of the Cobbs Mill saga. We have known Kleber Siguenza for 20 years & have found the Siguenzas to be an honorable, hard working family. We look forward to the day Kleber’s dream of a new Cobbs Mill comes to fruition.

    • Eric Buchroeder

      Maybe Weston might consider taking a page out of Westport’s playbook (you know, like they did with Longshore in the 60’s): Here’s how it works: The town of Weston buys Cobbs Mill from the widow and turns it into a “town treasure” supper club for residents only. Then it offers reciprocity with Westport: (“We give Westporters “preferred high end dining experience” at the newly christened Weston’s Cobbs Mill if Westonites get to keep their discounted Compo Beach stickers.”) I mean it’s like Stalin and Hitler signing a mutual non aggression pact. The two richest kids in the upscale neighborhood join forces to buy up all the candy bars before the riffraff from Bridgeport can get their foot to the candy store with their food stamps.

      • Nancy Roberts

        “Widow” doesn’t own Cobbs Mill Inn. Never did.

        • Is it possible that Drew told Laura he would leave the Inn to her, but never got around to putting it in writing? If I’m not mistaken, he did die suddenly.

          Just askin’

  24. Hmmm.. it does seem strange that the cobbs mill inn on 6 acres sold for 1.1 million.
    One would expect it to have a value in excess of 3 million.
    Surely had it been “actively” on the market in 2021 some of the 74 suitors would have brought an offer far in excess of 1.1 million.
    No matter what it’s condition I cannot imagine 6 acres in Weston to be worth 1.1$
    It is a very special spot.
    I read the new owners have plans including a partial roof top deck.
    It will be interesting to see how everything plays out.
    It is always interesting when quiet deals happen in a hush hush manner. Especially when the sales price and property value plus land are so at odds with prices in the neighborhood. And much more “especially” when it is an executor selling the property.
    I believe the new owners are the same owners as own harvest which replaced our beloved “Mario’s” in Westport on railroad place.
    I seem to remember a lot of scandal around that transition.

    • Not strange at all. This is not your typical six acres in Weston. And not a quiet deal…the sale took place as part of the legal disposition of Drew Friedman’s estate. The property has been vacant for years and falling into disrepair. It’s going to take substantial resources to bring it back to life.

    • Wondering, as a restaurant owner yourself (Nomade), you might have any conflict of interest with these fellow Westport restauranteurs?

      • It does sound like there’s some beef with the new owners.

      • I don’t understand local business owners throwing shade at other local business owners.

      • Ciara Webster

        No conflict of interest whatsoever. I don’t even know the owners. But I do remember the huge “Mario’s” scandal. Maybe you should look it up. I believe it might even have been covered by Dan himself.
        I also happen to know what property in Weston is worth.
        That’s all !

    • Hmm, Ms Webster, What is this “scandal” you are alleging? All I remember is that a cherished, but run down, old restaurant was retired, and a fresh new restaurant took over that’s been successful for years.

      As far as your expert opinion of the value of the Cobbs
      Mill property, you might look at the record and see that the last two sales have each been for a lower price than the previous one. That’s because the facility has continued to deteriorate, there are some big liabilities (like the state supervised dam) and the property is difficult to convert to a different use.

      If you were so concerned it was priced too low, you (or whomever you’re representing) could have put in an offer during the years it was on the market. And the market, not online commenters,
      Is what establishes the price of real estate.

  25. It is strange to me.
    It was quietly sold “ in the end” and that is always suspicious.
    Again, I maintain it is worth a lot more than 1.1 million.
    As it certainly was 2 years ago.
    I’m not disputing that it will take money to rehab it between the roof top decks being proposed and applied for ( which will destroy it incidentally, not to mention all other repairs.
    Fact still remains it is not worth 1.1 million.

    • Sorry you so are so suspicious, but most Weston residents like myself were glad to see it sell after so many years of sitting there vacant. I don’t know the new owners personally, but I wish them all the luck the world getting a new, vibrant business going there.

  26. nicholas visconti

    FYI: Half of the 6 acres are the pond in the back of the restaurant.

    • Eric Buchroeder

      Oh yes and if those three acres could only give up it’s secrets (probably including Jimmy Hoffa).

  27. “Megan Baumer” was posting under a false name. I have removed all her posts.

    The number of people who are using false identities to comment on “06880” has risen dramatically recently. The rules are clear: All commenters must use full, real names to post.

    I am getting very close to shutting down all comments, permanently. I am spending way too much policing commenters. I have had it with cowards who are afraid to use their own name — especially those who use it to demean others.

    Very distressing.

  28. Readers might be interested to know that Catholic masses were held in the Cobb’s Mill Inn dining room for a time in the 1950s. It was an interim location (the alternative was traveling to Georgetown or Westport) while Weston Catholics raised money to build what would become St. Francis of Assisi Church. The first meeting of the organizers was at my parents’ home on Lyons Plains in 1953. We had a great photo of Father Cleary celebrating mass with the pond and ducks behind him, but it was lost along the way (my mom died in 2015 at age 103). My sister and I were lucky enough to have birthday parties at the Inn when we were children, and I took my children there on special occasions in the 1990s. The vibe was unchanging. It always felt great to be there. I live in Darien but am often in Weston to hike or pick up some greens at Viv’s Veggies at the old Guidera farm. Here’s hoping someone brings Cobb’s Mill back to its prime. It has great bones and a great history. It just needs love and attention from a skilled operator.

  29. Eric Megan Buchroeder 2.0

    I wonder if Megan Baumér is the same Megan that’s showcased in the latest MyPillow commercial. (You know, the one where the bald guy opens his medicine chest and finds himself staring at Mike Lindell the MyPillow guy. The bald guy goes: “Megan!!! It’s that guy!!!”) The coincidence is just too overwhelming. What scares me is that now that MyPillow 2.0 has hit the market with its revolutionary temperature controlling fabric that Lindell will turn up in next week’s 06880 as the newest Westport/Weston entrepreneur because he took his windfall profits, bought the old Cobbs Mill from the widow and is turning it into a MyPillow factory. Weston zoning can’t stop the deal because Cobbs Mill was never rezoned as non commercial. So, we’re screwed. Especially if Lindell decides to run for First Selectperson. He’ll bring in Trump as his running mate.

  30. Get the Squatters OUT of the neighborhood!
    I say the towns people that support the new ownership start picketing these lowly criminals. How about we all show up on the property just like the criminal Tony Villano! He shows up in his black mercedes (that I believe he hasn’t made any payments on for ages, should be repo’d) and walks around with a baseball bat and most likely “carrying”…

    Lets all show up with baseball bats and carrying and drive the bum out of town!

  31. Marisela Esposito

    The CMI saga continues with Anthony Villano misleading public with his fake misspelled sign with his own phone number listed. FAKE confirmed by the real owners of CMI and Gabriele’s.

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