Category Archives: Local business

Pic Of The Day #734

Sunny Daes is ready for spring — no bull! (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

A Happy Osprey Update

Yesterday, “06880” reader James McDonald said he had not seen Westport’s ospreys at their Post Road East nest in a week. He wrote that sparrows had taken up residence there, and accused Regency Centers — the owner of the Fresh Market osprey pole — with “effectively murdering” the raptor family.

Put down your pitchforks!

A few minutes ago, alert “06880” reader Chip Stephens spotted this sight in the trees behind Terrain:

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

Chip reports that the male is in branches above the nest, looking down at what he assumes is the mother.

He hears noises, and thinks she may be laying eggs.

Just in time for Easter!

A Sad Osprey Update

Earlier today, alert — and disheartened — “06880” reader James McDonald posted a comment about our ospreys. I drove by the Post Road East site this afternoon, and saw the same thing.

The ospreys have abandoned the nest that was rebuilt by the inconsiderate and ignorant people who took it down.

Sparrows were in it today. I have not seen the ospreys in a week or so.

This incident should never be forgotten. The company that did it has effectively murdered a family of beautiful ospreys.

Two weeks ago, the ospreys were back in their nest. Property owner Regency replaced the platform they removed two days earlier. (Photo/Carolyn McPhee)

Stop & Shop Strike: Collateral Damage

A week into the Stop & Shop strike, both sides are settling in.

Employees of the Westport store are among 31,000 employees picketing the supermarket chain in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The issues include healthcare, wages and pensions.

Many Westporters seem to be honoring the strike. Passing drivers honk and flash thumb’s-up signs. The Post Road East parking lot is almost empty.

But that’s had a ripple effect on businesses that share the shopping center plaza with Stop & Shop.

Lori Brower — general manager of Kindred Spirits & Wine — says that while she supports the striking employees, her business has been impacted greatly as shoppers avoid the plaza altogether.

“We are a small family owned-business,” she notes. “Our tight-knit staff also needs to provide for their families.”

General manager Lori Brower, flanked by (from left) wine manager Dan Weaver and assistant manager Andrew Werner.

She hopes people realize that her company has nothing to do with Stop & Shop.

And that folks who park in the shopping center lot are not necessarily crossing a picket line.

They may just be her customers, looking for a nice wine for Passover or Easter.

Elvira’s To Open; Westport Rejoices

It’s a beautiful spring day.

And here’s some news to make Westport even sunnier.

I just spoke with Elvira’s. They want to put everyone’s fears to rest.

They’re sprucing up the interior. There are some changes coming — and a nice surprise or two.

But Elvira’s deli/market/community center will open this spring. The target date is Memorial Day.

See you there!


The End Of Elvira’s?

Rumors have long swirled that Elvira’s would be sold.

But year after year, the deli across from Old Mill has served beachgoers, bicyclists, joggers and walkers, alongside builders, masons, lawn guys and deliverymen who happened to be in the area.

Most importantly, it served as a neighborhood center. It was the market equivalent of “Cheers.” Families ran monthly tabs. Stacey and her family — the owners — looked out for all the kids, and displayed their school photos at the counter.

Elvira’s was closed for most of the winter though.

On Friday, there was sudden activity.

A group of people huddled inside. Outside, someone took photos.

This weekend, equipment — including the entire center section, which held chips, candy, bread and more — was removed.

Word on the street (Hillspoint Road and Compo Hill) is that the building and/or business was sold. However, no sale has yet been recorded at the town clerk’s office.

Is Elvira’s gone? Will new owners remodel — or tear it down, and build a private home?

All was quiet today. There was no one inside. Repeated phone calls brought only a busy signal.

Stay tuned. “06880” will keep you updated on this iconic, important Westport landmark.

Inside Elvira’s, earlier today. (Photo/Matt Murray)

Mystic Market Meets The Community

I love writing stories that welcome new businesses to Westport.

They’re often about the owners: their backgrounds, what got them here, the challenges they’ve faced — that sort of thing.

I don’t usually profile store managers.

But I also don’t usually find a manager with a back story like Dave Griswold’s.

The man who runs Mystic Market — Saugatuck’s new kitchen/eatery that’s earning raves in the old Blu Parrot/Jasmine/Arrow space — grew up in a military family. He went to 10 schools, before graduating from a fine arts academy.

Then he trained in ballet, and did a conservator with the American Ballet Theatre. He danced with Alice Cooper, and at Madison Square Garden for the New York Liberty.

David Griswold: ballet dancer …

After that, came … the US Army.

Griswold was a diesel mechanic in Afghanistan and Kuwait. He was also in charge of morale-building, getting soldiers out of their barracks to mix and mingle. During the service he finished his degree in business management.

… and service member.

All of those experiences — arts, problem solving, team building — serve him well as he helps develop Westport’s next favorite spot.

Griswold moved to Saugatuck last March, as Mystic Market prepared its new space. He commuted to their Old Saybrook store for months. Finally — with the local store open — he can enjoy his new home town.

One of the things he likes best is the “thriving arts culture.” He wants Mystic Market to be part of it too.

They’re donating to the Artists Collective of Westport‘s May 4 studio tour. He bought 5 tickets for his team to the April 27 “Gatsby Return” party at Longshore’s Pearl restaurant.

David Griswold (center) and his Mystic Market team.

Mystic Market’s leadership team will also be out in force on Earth Day, cleaning up the neighborhood.

“We all want to be part of the community,” Griswold says. “We want to be hands-on, giving back just as much as we want people to discover us, and be here for us.”

He also wants Mystic Market to be “the first great job for teenagers.” There’s nothing better, he says, than for students to learn the values of work, in an open, inviting space like his.

Griswold doesn’t know it, but his store’s ancestor — the Arrow restaurant — did exactly that, for generations of long-ago kids.

The iconic spot in the heart of Saugatuck pulses with new, 21st-century life. Westporters — old and young, natives and newcomers alike — should be thrilled.


Downtown Business Challenges Kids: Earn Money, Get Free Jerky

As a kid, Matt Levey earned money mowing lawns, shoveling snow and working lemonade stands.

Those experiences served him well. Today he owns Field Trip. That’s the red-hot producer of healthy, protein-rich jerky, in flavors ranging from beef, chicken, turkey and pork to jalapeño, cracked pepper and everything bagel.

They’re in 50,000 retail outlets nationwide. Field Trip is served on Jet Blue and United Airlines.

They’ve got only one store, though. It’s connected to their world headquarters on Post Road East — right across from Design Within Reach.

The Field Trip counter: fun, and filled with great-tasting products.

Levey would love to see kids in his home town — future entrepreneurs, who will create the next Field Trip (though hopefully not in the jerky industry) — put down their phones and video games, go out and earn money.

Anyone can do it. So he’s offering everyone an incentive.

If you’re still in school, and you make money doing something, head down to Field Trip. Matt will give you a “buy one, get one” deal on anything in the store.

This coming week — school vacation — is a perfect time to do it.

Just show proof of what you’ve done with a photo on (uh oh) a cell phone.

(Field Trip is at 153 Post Road East, Westport.)

This photo was not taken in Westport.

Morning Report: Stop & Shop Strike

As the Stop & Shop strike continues into a 2nd day, an “06880” reader who requests anonymity writes:

I drove in at 8 this morning. I was asked by the picket line to “not shop here today,” and instead “shop at another store.” I politely told them that I couldn’t, due to time constraints.

I was the ONLY person in the store. It was a surreal experience, considering how busy that store usually is. I had to use the self checkout.

I spoke with a manager on the way out. She was the only one there, besides a manager in the back.

It was an odd scene. Nothing in the meat counter, the produce was a mess, etc.

I did see someone in the pharmacy, so I think that is open. Not sure about the bank.

What’s  your experience? Will you avoid Stop & Shop because of the picket line? Avoid it because of the lack of fresh food today, and/or the mess? If you’ve always gone there, what’s your Plan B? Click “Comments” below.

Westport Super Stop & Shop workers on strike yesterday. (Photo/Robin Singer)

Westporters: Help Downtown Find Its Way

Earlier today, I posted a story about 3 successful local businesses. Toward the end, 3rd Selectman Melissa Kane mentioned one longstanding issue: helping visitors (and residents) realize there’s a lot more to downtown than Main Street.

She — and other officials — are addressing the problem.

And they need our help.

Kane also chairs the Westport Wayfinding Steering Committee. They’ve hired MERJE — a “nationally recognized wayfinding design firm” —  to create a “master wayfinding plan for downtown Westport and the gateways to the town.”

(“Wayfinding” helps guide motorists and pedestrians to parking and destinations using signage, maps and digital plans.)

The committee and MERJE have developed a survey about downtown design and directions. They’ve sent it to merchants and landlords. Now they want public opinion.

Click here to participate. It’s open through next Wednesday (April 17.)

One way to find our way. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)