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Category Archives: Downtown
“06880” reported yesterday that Greens Farms Spirit Shop was for sale. It was right there online, with an MLS listing.
Yesterday afternoon, owner Nick Conti emailed:
“Been hearing a lot of chatter today about my store being for sale. I can personally tell you: ‘The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.’ The store is not, in fact, for sale. I have had the store for almost 4 years now and couldn’t be happier in Westport. It’s a tremendous community!”
It seems a broker Nick had not met before misinterpreted an offhand remark, and posted — without his knowledge — an item about the sale. (“The MLS is a strange place to market a business,” Nick adds.)
So, not only is Greens Farms Spirit Shop not for sale. But the store was just recognized as one of the nation’s Top 100 retailers, by Beverage Dynamics magazine.
It’s all good. Party on!
Alert — and thirsty (though not for alcohol) – “06880” reader Mark Lassoff writes:
“I get off I-95 at the Southport exit yesterday, on my way to my Westport office.
“The Maple Avenue Dunkin’ Donuts was shuttered, without warning.
“The ‘New Dunkin’ opening in 3 days’ sign in Compo Shopping Center had not changed in a week
“Coffee An’ is closed for vacation.
“And Mrs. London’s Bakery is closed and locked, with no lights on and no sign on the door.
“I was forced to get coffee at Manna Toast ($5.19, from a thermos).
“When will the new Dunkin’ open? Downtown office workers are having a coffee crisis!”
Too bad, Mark: You should have looked more closely (or perhaps driven by a few minutes later).
Westport’s newest/most recently relocated Dunkin’ opened yesterday. Enjoy!
(Pro tip: Park in the back lot. There’s plenty of room. Unlike, ahem, the front.)
Everyone continues to rave about Old Mill Grocery — the newly reopened deli/market on Hillspoint Road.
And by “everyone,” we mean all kinds of people.
And their pets.
With plenty of dog treats on the shelf (courtesy of Earth Animal), we’ve seen lots of tail wagging — inside, and out front.
Cathy Malkin sent this photo of Yogi Bear, and says he gives the new place “2 paws up”:
Meanwhile, Maggie Moffitt Rahe reports — happily — “the line was out the door. One can only say ‘thank you” to the donors for opening the doors again. It’s bustling, and beautiful.”
This week’s hot dog cookout for the camp was the most successful ever
Several dozen Y’s Men and spouses — plus frequent Y’s Men speaker and loyal supporter 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker — enjoyed hundreds of dogs. They were donated by Y’s Man David Kalman, and grilled by members Roy McKay and Larry Licht.
Also at Compo: For a few weeks after it was installed, the new electronic sign notifying beachgoers of the parking situation sat idle.
Yesterday, it worked.
Well, if you disregard those diagonal black lines everywhere.
Flyers distributed yesterday in Saugatuck announced a state Department of Transportation “I-95 Resurfacing and Median Reconstruction Project, to begin July 2022.”
The bridge over Saugatuck Avenue will be replaced, using “Accelerated Bridge Construction Methods called Lateral Slide, which minimizes the disruption to I-95 commuters.”
In addition, the I-95 bridges over Franklin Street and the Saugatuck River will undergo concrete deck repairs, replacement of expansion joints and installation of new standpipes.
A portion of the structure will be replaced over a weekend, with 2 lanes of traffic in each direction.
Other work includes:
- Reconstruction of the center median and right shoulders along with resurfacing of the highway mainline and ramps at Interchanges 16 and 17.
- Median will be reconstructed consistent with other stretches of I-95 to provide a 6-foot-wide capped concrete barrier section.
- Wider left and right shoulders where possible.
- Improve drainage by replacing and re-routing drainage structures
- Replacement of the existing highway illumination system
- Install new realigned Incident Management System (IMS)
- Install new guide rail
- Utilize wet retroreflective pavement markings to provide increased visibility of pavement markings in wet conditions.
(Hat tip: Ken Stamm)
Matthew Hooper and his wife live near downtown. On Tuesday night, walking in that often bustling area, he spotted 2 deer.
One was happily hanging out at the Millman & Millman law office. Moments later it as joined by another, strolling right down the yellow line on Main Street.
Whether they were looking for legal advice, or perhaps a gelato, they captured Matthew’s attention. And he captured one on camera, for “Westport … Naturally.”
And finally … Mark Lassoff may not be able to find a cup of coffee. But if he’s lookin for java:
Sweetgreen went before the Architectural Review Board last night.
The salad-and-bowl fast casual restaurant — with over 150 outlets in more than a dozen states — will replace Organic Krush. The “lifestyle eatery” replaced Chipotle less than 2 years ago. Board members were pleased with the new look. (There were no comments on the menu.)
Representatives from Bridge Square faced more questions, about the new look of that venerable plaza. Questions centered around architectural additions, the back (river) side, and color.
Ultimately, the ARB voted to let the project continue, with the recommendation that the owners come back with a new color scheme.
The ARB took the most time on a pre-application review of a text amendment for The Hamlet at Saugatuck, the proposed redevelopment of the area bordered by Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Charles Street.
No decisions were made. Members asked questions about height and architecture. ROAN Ventures, the project developer, continues the process with the ARB and Planning & Zoning Commission in September.
One of Westport’s oldest best known liquor stores is for sale.
A commercial real estate listing for Greens Farms Spirit Shop says: “Prime location on well-traveled road. Fantastic selection of all types of Spirits, with experienced Staff. Full delivery service, and help with all Events, Weddings, as well as corporate outings. Truly a must see to get the full affect [sic] of the operation.”
It’s listed for $2,250,000. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Amy Swanson)
Hook’d — the Compo Beach concessionaire — remains controversial.
A few “06800” readers accused me of being too harsh, with my recent report that my request for a rare cheeseburger was denied.
That’s the Health Department looking out for beef eaters, apparently. (Don’t forget: The girl at the counter said that all their burgers are cooked the same: medium. I couldn’t have gotten mine well done, either).
So take this next item with a grain of salt. Alert reader Martin Iselin writes:
“Joey’s (the previous concessionaire) was known for one of the best hot dogs around. After a bike ride I always rewarded myself with one.
“After finishing a recent ride, I thought I’d try the new place. I ordered a hot dog, and asked if they had sauerkraut. No!
“I asked about relish. No!
“Disappointed, a put a little mustard on it. I don’t what brand they use, but it was so salty I could not eat it.
“What kind of beach summer place has no condiments, and such bad food?”
I’m guessing that’s a rhetorical question.
Marine Layer — the small clothing store next to the much bigger Gap — is closing August 1.
But they’ll reopen in late August, at a new location: 59 Main Street. They’re taking over Intermix.
I searched the “06880” archives for a mention of Marine Layer. Up popped a story from 2017.
It described a new group — Earth Guardians — that encouraged businesses to keep their doors shut when air conditioning (or heat) was on.
Of all the stores they visited, only one had its door closed: Marine Layer.
Sarah Jane Cion snagged first place in the 17th annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition.
Tomorrow, she plays the magnificent Steinway — direct from the legendary Village Gate club — at Westport’s VFW (465 Riverside Avenue). It’s the next, and one of the most anticipated, “Jazz @ the Post” shows of the summer.
Cion has performed with legends like Clark Terry, Etta Jones, Anita O’Day, Bucky Pizzarelli and Don Braden, and is a regular at Birdland. Judges for her award-winning competition were Horace Silver, Kenny Barron, Ellis Marsalis, Benny Green and Bill Charlap.
Music begins at 7 p.m. The cover charge of $10 goes directly to the musicians.
Tag sales wax and wane with the weather. We don’t see too many in winter — or summer.
But on Saturday, August 6 (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; early bird special $10 for 8 a.m. entry), the Unitarian Church in Westport sponsors its always popular (and massive) sale.
Thousands of items are donated by dozens of families. Among them: outdoor tools, kitchenware, china, artwork, home décor, rugs, clothing, books, blankets, sheets, arm chairs, lamps — even a unicycle.
COVID knocked out the past couple of tag sales. So there’s plenty of merch — and demand
Proceeds fund operating costs of the congregation, and the social justice causes they support.
The eagle has landed. And it stayed at Schlaet’s Point for at least half an hour.
Alert “06880” reader Mary Gai captured this magnificent bird — at least with her camera — for “Westport … Naturally.”
And finally … speaking of bad hot dogs …
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Shelley Burger grew up on the football sidelines. Her grandfather was a coach. She loved being outdoors.
She loved photography too. She turned those passions into a career, spending years as a sports photographer for high schools and colleges.
When COVID blew a whistle on competition, the Westporter turned to wildlife. She was still outdoors, still shooting action and movement. Freezing a moment in time — an eagle catching a fish, a horse bucking in the air, an athlete catching a pass or throwing a baseball — is what Shelley does well.
She began riding horses at 5 years old. She has fond memories of riding with her mom.
As she transitioned into wildlife photography, Shelley wondered how to realize a childhood dream: sitting among wild horses, in their home on the range.
This past spring she headed to Onaqui Mountains, 2 hours outside of Salt Lake City. She spent an “amazing” several days in a herd of wild mustangs. Nestled in the tall grass, she watched them frolic and spar. She felt humbled to be among so many “powerful, graceful and compassionate” animals.
While she spent much of her time appreciating the beauty of the land and horses, she learned quite a bit too.
Though she — like many Americans — imagined that mustangs roam freely in the West, in reality, their lives are in danger. The Bureau of Land Management rounds up and removes hundreds of horses each year. Some are relocated; many are slaughtered.
The land is then leased back to cattle ranchers, Shelley says.]
Shelley vowed to help. Back home in Westport, she opened a pop-up gallery on Church Lane, in the former Savannah Bee store.
Her mustang photography exhibit debuted with a special show. Proceeds from sales went to Red Birds Trust, a non-profit that helps wild horses of the Onaqui.
Shelley’s gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays (noon to 8 p.m.), through August 15.
Signed prints are available on her website too. Email Shelley_Burger@mac.com for sizing, framing and customization.
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In 2011, the post office moved from its spacious, classical and long-time home downtown (now Design Within Reach, for all who have moved here since).
Just before relocating to cramped, parking-impaired Playhouse Square, I wrote:
When the post office moves into its new Playhouse Square digs a few months from now, it will likely be without fanfare.
They’re downsizing, after all; you don’t cut a ribbon at some spare, utilitarian space.
It’s a far cry from 1936, when Westport’s shining “new” post office opened on (appropriately) the Post Road.
Sheila Murphy Foster remembers that ceremony like it was yesterday. She should: She cut the ribbon.
Sheila was back in town the other day. She’s lived in Florida since graduating from Staples in 1948 — but she’s 82 years young, and still loves Westport.
Her roots are deep. Her own mother Mary is a Staples grad — in fact, Sheila says, Mary helped develop the school lunch program, and came up with the name “Inklings” for the school newspaper.
Sheila’s father John commuted to New York City for his job as an accountant with American Standard. He had 3 children, and when his wife got sick he needed a job closer to Westport.
John Murphy was active in Democratic politics — locally and nationally — and knew Postmaster General James Farley. Soon, President Roosevelt appointed Murphy as Westport’s postmaster.
“It was a plum job,” Sheila says.
The job was even better because a new post office was about to be dedicated. The WPA project replaced what Sheila calls a “ratty building” across the street.
“It was the middle of the Depression,” she recalls. “Things were bad. Having the government build a new building was good. Thank heaven for the WPA.”
So one day in 1936, 7-year-old Sheila stood on the broad steps of the “magnificent edifice” and cut the ceremonial ribbon. Well, she tried to — the oversized scissors were too big, so her father the postmaster finished the job.
He had a lot to do besides pose for photos. Mail was delivered twice a day back then. Westporters — many of whom did not have telephones — communicated with friends by mailing postcards back and forth, one delivery following the next.
John lived only a couple of more years. He died very young — as did his wife. From age 9 on, Sheila was raised by her aunt.
Sheila remembers her Imperial Avenue home — near the intersection with Bridge Street — as a wonderful former onion barn. There was sledding in winter, and playing on a nearby 10-acre estate. Owner Rose O’Neill had already earned fame as the creator of the Kewpie doll.
In town, Sheila took dance lessons at what is now Toquet Hall.
Though she stayed in Florida after college, Sheila returned regularly to Westport — with her 3 sons.
On her most recent visit, she stopped by the post office she dedicated 75 years ago.
How did she feel when she heard the building has been sold — taking with it three-quarters of a century of Westport history?
“I felt bad,” she says. “It still looks like a beautiful building.
“But it’s old,” she admits. “Maybe it’s too expensive to renovate.”
The clerks — and postmaster — may move to Playhouse Square. But one thing will never change, Sheila Murphy insists.
“It’s always been my post office.”
Sheila Murphy Foster died peacefully Monday evening at her Miami home, surrounded by her family. She was 92 years old.
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Yesterday’s “Unsung Hero” story brought tears to many readers’ eyes.
It also brought this email, from hero Tucker Peters himself. After saving fellow teenage sailor Mark Adipietro’s life — and reading many heart-warming comments — he wrote one of his own:
“Thank you to everyone for the kind words. I was just one part of an extraordinary team. The true hero though is Mark, who fought like hell. Not many people have the grit or determination to fight back the way he did. He was back on the water with me today — onward and upward we go, forever connected.”
Speaking of first aid and safety:
The fall Emergency Medical Technician/Responder class, sponsored by Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services, begins September 6. It runs through December 20. Classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays, with some Saturday sessions.
Over the years, at least 14 WVEMS members have gone on to medical school. Others became nurses, physician assistants and paramedics.
The cost ($1250 per Emergency Medical Technician student, $750 per Emergency Medical Responder student) includes classes, book, stethoscope and BP cuff. WVEMS can reimburse for the cost of our class after students are cleared as regular WVEMS members.
Click here for more information, and registration details.
Speaking of service: Tony Giunta died on Saturday. He lived for many years with kidney disease.
A Staples High School graduate who spent 34 years as a Westport Police Department officer and detective, he was equally dedicated to the Boy Scouts, Kiwanis Club, Staples Key Club and Masonic Lodge #65.
In 1996 he carried the Olympic torch down the Post Road, en route to Atlanta.
A full obituary will be posted later. Visitation is a week from tomorrow (Friday, July 22, 4 to 8 p.m., Harding Funeral Home). A funeral mass will be celebrated Saturday, July 23 (10 a.m., St. Luke Church), with a graveside service to follow at Willowbrook Cemetery.
Once upon a time, there were a few dozen service stations in Westport: up and down the Post Road, on Main Street, Riverside Avenue, even Hillspoint Road.
There are very few now. Most sell only gas (and food).
A shout-out to one of the stalwarts: Westport Center Service. The station directly opposite Playhouse Square went above and beyond when I had a tire issue the other day. They were quick, responsive, and very, very efficient.
it’s been owned by the same man — Robert Walsh — since 1965. In a world of ever-changing businesses, and every-diminishing quality, it’s not hard to see why.
Earthplace’s animal rescue and care is ongoing: 365 days a year.
For the next few days, they seek aid from the community.
A few donors have pledged to match up to $20,000 in funds for Earthplace’s animal projects.
Earthplace notes that $50 buys weekly produce for Animal Hall. $150 provides equipment, while $250 feeds all owls for one month. Click here to help.
Today’s entitled parking photo comes from downtown.
Apparently all the cars facing the opposite direction — and a double yellow line — mean nothing when there’s an open space to be snagged.
Longtime resident Phyllis Tremonte died last month at her Westport home. She was 100 years old.
Phyllis worked for C.B. Dolge Company for over 20 years. She was a member of the VFW Women’s Auxiliary, and was an avid reader. She loved to travel, and enjoyed cooking, baking and taking care of her family.
Phyllis was predeceased by her husband Thomas Tremonte, son Thomas Tremonte Jr., brother John Borriello and sisters, Mary Carrione and Archangel Argenio.
She is survived by her daughter Loretta Tremonte of Westport, daughter-in-law Peggy Tremonte of Wilmont, New Hampshire, grandchildren Thomas P. (Jessica) Tremonte, Julia A. (Mike) Cushman and Michael J. Tremonte, great-granddaughters Laina and Gianna Tremonte, sister Amy Campanella, and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial Mass will be held on Monday, July 18 (10 a.m., Assumption Church). In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to a charity of one’s choice. Click here to leave online condolences.
Thanks for all the “full buck moon” photos from last night. It was quite a sight, as many photographers documented.
Here’s a unique shot. With birds chilling at Compo Beach around 12:30 a.m., it’s a great fit for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.
And finally … in honor of July 14:
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A large crowd gathered at Jesup Green today, for the annual running of the ducks.
The Sunrise Rotary Club fundraiser returned live, after 2 COVID years. Proceeds go toward the organization’s many service projects, in Fairfield County and around the globe.
Warm-up activities included older kids …
… and younger ones.
Then Sunrise Rotary volunteers got to work …
… and the race was on!
Janet Mittleman won the $5,000 grand prize.
Runners-up — also winning substantial cash awards — were Nick Battaglino, Anna Brady, Rob Graham, Alexander Strompen, Tracey Cauley, Wen Hsu, Rady Johnson, Jason Wolgast and Silvia Durno.
They’re probably all out celebrating now.
At the Duck?
For over a decade, the Westport Library’s Summer Book Sale was a hot event.
For a few days, thousands of book, magazine, CD and vinyl lovers thronged an enormous tent on Jesup Green. Paying prices that decreased each day, they emerged with armfuls, boxfuls and (it seemed) semi-trailerfuls of stuff.
Early bird collectors — who resold what they bought at profits — jostled with readers of all ages: parents with young kids, teenagers, older folks who probably had 15,000 books already.
It was a great Library fundraiser.
It also took a ton of work. Armies of volunteers were needed to set up the (expensive) tent, monitor the flow and collect the cash.
And the “hot” event was literally that. Everyone sweltered. (Jesup Green didn’t look so hot itself, once the tent was dismantled.)
COVID put an end to the Summer Book sale. It has not returned.
But used books are as hot as ever. And the Library has adapted in several ways.
Westport Book Shop — across Jesup Green from the Library — has established itself as a premier spot for used books. Open every day except Monday, it’s a lot less hectic (and cooler in summer) than the tent. Its mission to employ people with disabilities adds to its importance.
There are still “book sales.” They’re twice a year, in spring and fall — inside the Library. The next one is November 11-14.
Volunteers are still vital. And no one has worked harder, or longer, for the Library’s book sales than Mimi Greenlee.
For over 20 years, she’s helped them grow and evolve. Her current role is managing inventory for the store and the sales. She works inside a trailer outside the building, in the upper parking lot.
It’s quite an operation.
Donors bring piles of books. (Including dumping them outside when the doors are closed, which shouldn’t be done.)
Some people haul in hundreds of volumes.
Volunteers sort the donations into 60 categories. There are big ones (Fiction, Mysteries, History) and smaller (Military, Judaica).
Managers decide the most appropriate place for each: the store, or the sales. They price each volume too, using online tools.
Not every donation is acceptable.
“People can’t throw away their own books,” Mimi says. “Unfortunately, some of them are moldy, from years in the garage or basement.”
Other books have broken spines or binding.
“Some people just don’t look at what they’re donating,” Mimi adds. “It happens a lot when they’re cleaning out a parent’s house, or moving quickly.”
The recycling bin comes in handy for those.
Even donations in good condition are not always acceptable. “We don’t take encyclopedias. Nobody wants them anymore,” Mimi explains.
Also unneeded: Magazines (“unless they’re very valuable”), VHS tapes, audio cassettes, and “outdated computer manuals.” Few textbooks make the grade.
Mimi wishes potential donors would ask: “Would I give this book to my grandmother?”
Because grandmothers — and grandfathers, moms, dads, kids, and everyone else in the area who can read — want used books.
But not the ones they’ve just thrown away.
(Volunteers are always needed — for sorting and other help, and at the book sales themselves. Email Mimi Greenlee for details: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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The Comments section of “06880” have been filled with Hook’d-bashing.
It started with a complaint about the Compo Beach concessionaire’s running out of food, random and unposted hours, and general corporate lack of care for customers.
Readers added their own experiences. Several noted that the situation was just as bad at Hook’d’s other 2 locations: the Longshore pool and halfway house.
But that was the equivalent of forgetting you asked for extra ketchup, compared to yesterday.
It was July 4th — probably the most important day of any summer. Spectacular weather brought huge crowds.
Yet at 4:30 p.m. — with the temperature 80 degrees, dozens of people in the pool, and many more playing tennis nearby — the concession stand was shut.
The windows were closed. The door was locked. No one was inside.
Nothing says “We don’t care” more than that.
I’m not sure what Hook’d’s contract with the town says about being open on the biggest day of the year.
But it seems we’ve been reeled in by them too long.
Time to give Hook’d the hook.
If you missed the June 30th fireworks at Compo — or just wished you could see pyrotechnics on the actual 4th of July — and were at the beach last night, you were in luck.
Towns all along Long Island’s North Shore of Long Island fired them off. So did a few towns on the Connecticut coast, to the west.
Fred Cantor captured this true July 4th fireworks view:
Eric Chiang is July’s guest exhibitor at the Westport Book Shop.
The Jesup Green store features the oil painting “Moon Light Sonata,” from his Musical Planet series. He delves into weighty issues of human connection and the meaning of existence, showcasing loneliness, desperation, love and hope.
Chiang’s work has been exhibited from MoCA Westport and Silvermine to Texas and Taiwan. Concurrently with the Book Shop show, his Westport Library exhibit runs through July 14.
Chiang’s piece will be on exhibit at the Book Shop through July 31, 2022.
Speaking of art: A plastic surgeon walks into a coffee bar, and shows his works.
That’s the story this Sunday (July 10, 4 to 7 p.m.). Dr, Jeffrey Rosenthal hosts a reception for his work at Steam, on Railroad Place.
He’s displayed his colorful paintings and photos previously throughout Fairfield County — and in New York and Europe. The show is open now during business hours, through September 12.
Longtime resident Tom Lowrie took today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo a few days ago, in his back yard. It’s an ephemeral — but always beautiful — early summer sight.
And finally … on this date in 1954, Elvis Presley recorded his first single, “That’s All Right,” at Sun Records in Memphis.
The world was never the same.
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