Old Mill Grocery Seeks New Operator

Last year, when a group of Westporters saved the former Elvira’s from possible conversion to a large home, they needed an experienced operator.

The Granola Bar stepped up. In just a few weeks they had Old Mill Grocery & Deli running.

The July 2022 opening filled a void, reinvigorating the neighborhood while also serving hungry folks headed to and from Compo Beach.

But as The Granola Bar expands, opening new locations in Connecticut and New York, they’re focusing staff and resources on that brand.

They’ve opted not to renew their lease. Their final day will be September 30.

Old Mill Grocery & Deli reopened in July 2022. (Photo/Matt Murray)

Soundview Empowerment Alliance founders Jim Hood, Ian Warburg, Emily Zobl, Chris Tait and Tommy Febbraio — who formed a non-profit to buy the century-old building, renovate it and re-open the market/deli, while also providing employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities — are working closely with the Granola Bar team on the transition.

SEA is also working to identify a new restaurant operator. They’re talking with several, and invite any group interested to contact them by email: SoundviewEmpowerment@gmail.com.

“Together since July 22, The Granola Bar Hospitality Group and Soundview Empowerment Alliance have proudly fulfilled SEA’s mission to save the historic building and to empower adults with disabilities, while creating a special space in the community to share delicious food together,” SEA says.

“Since day one, the team has remained focused on ‘preserving history and serving good,’ with incredible support from the community.”

The renovated building has won 3 state and local preservation awards. The training and employment program for adults with disabilities began several months ago.

“As the team works together to identify and transition to a new operator, OMG&D will remain open through September 30, serving everything from morning coffee to award-winning pizza in Westport’s most beloved building.”

Old Mill Grocery, soon after reopening. (Photo/Maggie Moffitt Rahe)

17 responses to “Old Mill Grocery Seeks New Operator

  1. Rebecca Wolin

    If they are a non profit their email should end in .org

    • Not true. Using a Gmail doesn’t disqualify you from being part of a non profit.

  2. SEA was granted 501(c)(3) status by the IRS on July 6, 2022. Our tax-exempt EIN is 88-1027401.

  3. Trisha Jumper

    Was it planning to close after the summer season anyway, or will it reopen (possibly with shorter hours) year-round once a new operator is found?

    • Hi Trisha — No, the plan was not to close at the end of September. We hope to find an operator who will serve this very special community year-round. That always was, and remains, our intention.

  4. Let’s all do what we can to assure that the Old Mill Deli continues and in doing so make sure that all those involved are credited for their hard work and commitment.

  5. Pretty crummy of the Granola Bar group to bail on this place so quickly. And only a month to find someone to take over. Not cool.

  6. Andrew Colabella

    make it an actual market!!!

  7. Loretta Hallock

    I agree with Andrew Colabella. I walked in there once and wasn’t impressed. We need something more like Elvira’s or a small Peter’s bridge market.

  8. I agree with Andrew. . Elvira succeeded in so many ways, because it was a market as well as beach type food for all. It was a real hang out place. Btw, I saw Elvira’s was opening in Norwalk I think? Bring them back or something similar. This new place does not capture the heart and soul of the neighborhood.

    • Bill Strittmatter

      Unfortunately, isn’t that the problem? Elvira’s ultimately did not succeed. It’s a very tough business and unless people in the neighborhood, or Westport generally, go out of their way to be supportive, it’s very hard to compete and thrive. Good luck to whoever steps in.

      • Elvira’s did succeed. They closed because the owners were getting older, wanted to retire, and other family members did not want to take over the business. They were there for 20 years or so.

        • Bill Strittmatter

          Maybe. I would note that there is a difference between succeeding (as in thriving) and surviving (as in just getting by). I don’t know anything about Elvira’s business but, going back to my accounting days years ago, as likely as not it was the latter, with the “real estate” ultimately being worth more than the “business”.

  9. Andrew Colabella

    I give the granola girls a lot of credit for taking it over especially Eamon who ran it when they first opened and was nice enough to showcase my art work to help generate proceeds to their food establishment…until someone took them down to promote someone else’s art without notice, stacking them next to a garbage can.

    However it did change when he left the hours suddenly changed with no notice.

    To their defense, there needs to be foot traffic everyday to stay open, and obviously, when construction is going on down there that helps too. Not too pricey, but it’s one of three food establishments below The 95/RR corridor.

    I can imagine, dream if I will, a convenience store like that offers bleach, toothpaste, canned goods, cold drinks, ice cream, frozen boxed foods, etc, random items you need in a pinch.

    Yes it’s hard to predict and stock based on peoples needs, but a survey could be taken. I am interested to see what happens next, it is unfortunate.

  10. They had almost nothing in the store when I was there, and it took 35 minutes to get a BLT and a latte. I haven’t been back. Because the community is so unhappy with the food at the beach concession, they could certainly have some beach food that doesn’t take forever and isn’t grossly overpriced.

    I hope they get a market in there- it’s wonderful to have saved the building. Now to save the business!!!

  11. Werner Liepolt

    I realize there are many aspects of this project that are more crucial. However I can’t help but wonder if the nearby blue, blighted behemouth isn’t jinxing this location.