Category Archives: Local business

Greetings From Westport

Pop-up art galleries are a thing. They’ve popped up all over Westport, including the Post Road and Bedford Square.

There’s a new one in Saugatuck. But this is different: It’s the brainchild of a pair of fairly recent Staples High School alums.

Jake Shore and Alex Zukerman graduated in 2013. They earned degrees from Rhode Island School of Design and Pratt, respectively.

Since last fall they’ve staged a half dozen shows in Paddlecourt Gallery, a former catering storefront on Saugatuck Avenue. (It’s across from Westport Chinese Takeout. The name comes from its founding in a former paddle tennis court near Alex’s house.)

This weekend they present the work of up-and-coming artists Alicia Gibson and Butt Johnson. Though New York based, both have created drawings depicting well-known residents past and present, and local architecture and landmarks.

The show reflects views of the town by visitors. It suggests postcards, memories and impressions.

Jake and Alex have taken Westport’s artistic legacy to heart. They’re carrying on the tradition, in a modern, hip way.

The opening reception is tomorrow (Saturday, June 23, 1 to 6 p.m.). The show runs through July 29. Paddlecourt Gallery is at 58 Saugatuck Avenue.

(For more on Paddlecourt, check out this story posted today on ArtNews.)

New Paltz Artist Opens New Gallery Here

New Paltz is a funky Hudson Valley town. It’s home to the famed Mohonk Mountain House, and boasts (according to ILoveNY.com) “a lively music scene, farm-to-table eateries, and charming boutiques and cafes.”

Sort of like we kind of imagine Westport to be (without the Victorian castle).

So when Ryan Cronin looked beyond New Paltz for his new gallery, he chose Bedford Square.

“As socially conscious, artistic entrepreneurs with a passion for community relationships and adventure, we put a great deal of thought” into their 2nd location, says CronArtUSA co-owner (and Ryan’s wife) Melanie Cronin.

Ryan Cronin

When they heard about this town, she says, “we sat down, cracked our knuckles, and immersed ourselves in the Westport world. Our extensive research all came back with one positive affirmation: Westport was the perfect place to spread our mission (‘Art for good’) and vision (‘Be part of the art’).”

Westport’s rich history as an artists’ colony, and strong appreciation for the arts, were important. The Public Art Collection — including so many works in each school — sealed the deal.

“Ryan is a firm believer in making art accessible,” Melanie says. “Any community that makes major works of art part of children’s everyday life is one we want to be part of.”

The Bedford Square gallery offers Ryan Cronin’s original works and prints, along with special merchandise ranging from apparel to home goods.

Inside CronArtUSA’s Bedford Square gallery.

So far, Melanie says, Westport has been “welcoming and inquisitive.”

The New Paltz gallery and gift shop has become a community hub and gathering place, for artists and social activists alike. The couple hope the Westport site becomes the same.

(CronArtUSA is open in Bedford Square from 1 to 6 p.m. every day except Monday, and by appointment. Click here for more information.)

Chocolate Hearts Help Kids In Crisis

Amid the swirl of awful news about children in crisis around the world, many Westporters wonder how they can help.

Aarti Khosla — owner of Le Rouge, the artisan chocolate shop on Main Street just past Avery Place — has one idea. She writes:

With the continued moral decay surrounding us, I am upping the effort to raise money for children in crisis. I’m giving 100% of the proceeds from chocolate hearts sold this week.

To keep my sanity during the challenging moral decay surrounding me, I have been busy making “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts since February of 2017. So far we have sold close to 800 hearts. They’ve been shared in random acts of kindness in and around our community. 10% of the proceeds have been given to charity.

“Give a Little Love” with these chocolates.

Please help me reach my goal of 1,000 hearts this week. 100% of  sales of these hearts will go to help children in crisis.

These chocolate hearts are a great way to say thank you to teachers, school staff, bus drivers and others in our community. Please join me in spreading more love!

The hard-working Aarti had already planned to close for her annual vacation next week. So head down to 190 Main Street today or tomorrow, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Staples Interns Explore 3 Generations Of Fun

Back in the day, Staples High School seniors spent the last month before graduation marking time.

Stricken with severe cases of senioritis, with classes essentially over and warm weather beckoning, even the most diligent students checked out.

For nearly a decade though, Staples’ senior internship program has provided an excellent bridge between school and the real world.

Last week, over 450 soon-to-be graduates completed their 4-week internships. They worked for marketing and financial services firms; at Town Hall, the police station and in Westport schools. They helped doctors and lawyers, builders and caterers.

They got a taste of commuting, writing lesson plans, being part of a company team. They learned about punctuality and customer service; how to write business emails, answer the phone and (yes) make coffee.

Ella de Bruijn did her internship at Wakeman Town Farm.

I could highlight any one of 450 interns. But I chose Zach Howard and Alison Lindsey-Noble.

They interned at Aspetuck Land Trust. Part of their work was creating a video.

Together, they interviewed 3 generations of local residents. First, they asked: “What did you do for fun as a kid.”

The grandparent and parent generations talked about being outdoors: fishing, bike riding, playing games, jumping in leaves.

The youngest generation — today’s kids — mentioned video games, computers, watching TV with friends. One talked about rock climbing — the Xbox version, that is.

Asked what they can’t live without, the youngsters said Wi-Fi, technology, cell phones, and TV (“because there’s nothing else to do,” one girl added).

Two boys sitting on a couch playing video games

Zach and Alison then asked the older generations why it’s important for kids to go outside.

“To have a good relationship with the natural world,” one said. “You get a healthy perspective on life in general; how we relate to the environment.” That helps everyone make “good life decisions,” he noted.

The video ends with this message: “Aspetuck Land Trust has 45 trailed preserves available to you.”

Now, hopefully — thanks to Zach and Alison’s internship work — some kids may put down their phones, turn off their Wiis, and take a hike.

Click below to see Zach and Alison’s video.

Friday Flashback #95

Alert “06880” reader Carol Gluckman sent along this 1980s-era t-shirt.

The owner may have loved all those stores, restaurants and more.

But unless you’re a beach, high school, institution or neighborhood — or were very lucky — today you’re just a memory.

Click “Comments” below to share your memories of any of these golden oldies.

P&Z Okays 500 Main Street, 1 Dispensary

Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission gave thumb’s-up last night to 2 hotly debated proposals.

By a 5-2 vote, the board approved 9 housing units at 500 Main Street (the old Daybreak Nurseries 2.18-acre site near Merritt Parkway Exit 42).

In a scaled-down version of its original plan, Able Construction will be able to build 2 2-family homes, and 5 1-family homes. All will be restricted to owners 55 and over.

The Planning & Zoning Commission approved 9 housing units for this site.

Late in the evening, the P&Z voted 4-2 (1 abstention) to allow a medical marijuana dispensary at 1460 Post Road East. The spot — around the shopping center corner from the old Pier 1 Imports — was most recently occupied by Coco Spa.

The applicant — Bluepoint Wellness — must still be approved by Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection.

If approved by the state, this will be the site of Westport’s only medical marijuana dispensary.

The P&Z denied 4 other medical marijuana proposals, all on the Post Road: the former Bertucci’s restaurant; a site near the Southport border (Stanton Miles/Jennifer Furniture); the old DXL menswear/Blockbuster store, and the Academy of Dance building.

Reasons for those denials included safety, traffic, lack of parking and location relative to zoning regulations.

Sweet Sounds Of Summer

There are many signs of summer in Westport: The Yankee Doodle Fair. The 2nd of July fireworks.

And music on the Saugatuck Sweets plaza.

The series kicks off this Friday (June 15). The Dave Kardas Band plays from 6:30 until 9 p.m.

They play classic rock, blues, country, R&B, soul and jazz. They cover music from James Brown, Prince, BTO, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and Michael Jackson to Eric Clapton, the Cars, Sister Sledge, Whitesnake, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Tom Petty, David Bowie, Sade, Aretha Franklin, Jill Scott, Bruno Mars and Pharrell,

If you enjoy great ice cream and fantastic music by the river, you know how great this is.

If you don’t, I’m sorry.

There’s no hope for you.

This is not the Dave Kardas Band. But it’s what the “Sweet Sounds of Summer” series looks like, at the plaza by the river.

P&Z Decision Likely On Medical Marijuana and Daybreak Property; No Public Testimony Tonight

Planning and Zoning director Mary Young wants “06880” readers to know: Decisions will likely be rendered by the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight at Town Hall, on applications to locate medical marijuana dispensary facilities in town.

Public hearings have been closed, so no more public testimony will be heard.

However, tonight’s meeting is public. It will be televised on Channel 79 (Cablevision) and Channel 6020 (Frontier). It will also be livestreamed at www.westportct.gov tomorrow, beginning at 7 p.m.

Five applicants have proposed medical marijuana dispensaries in Westport.  Zoning regulations adopted in 2017 authorize the P&Z to approve up to 2 locations. However, the Commission is not required to approve any.

A decision on 500 Main Street (former Daybreak Nurseries) is also anticipated at tonight’s meeting. Peter Greenberg of Able Construction returned this  spring with a new application for consideration by the P&Z to construct 9 housing units: 2 two-family dwellings and 4 one-family dwelling units, on the 2.18-acre site. All are age-restricted (55 and over).

The project was reduced in scale, compared to an application denied earlier this year by the Commission. That public hearing has also been closed, so no testimony may be received.

The former Daybreak Nurseries, at 500 Main Street.

Kidville Closes: Collateral Medical Marijuana Dispensary Damage

Kidville is a chain of activity centers for newborns through 6-year-olds. There are classes in music and dance, gym, art, enrichment and more; birthday parties, and an indoor play space.

The Westport location is 1572 Post Road East — just past ASF.

At least, it will be until June 30. Today, the “Westport Kidville Team” sent out this notice:

As many of you may have heard, Kidville Westport has recently been brought into the current debate and public hearing discussions surrounding a medical marijuana dispensary’s application to open on Post Road East near our Westport location. [The site is the former DXL men’s store — and before that, Blockbuster — across and down the street.]

Members of the community contacted the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood in an effort to classify Kidville Westport as a “school,” which would prevent the dispensary from opening. This resulted in a visit from the state inspector.

Unfortunately, the COEC informed us that Kidville Westport does not meet the requirements to continue running our current early childhood curriculum.

We immediately endeavored to do whatever we could to meet those requirements, which would require us to be classified as a “Group Childcare Home” and restructure our space. Unfortunately, we have learned from our landlord that our location is not eligible to be classified as “Group Childcare Home.”

Therefore, with a heavy heart we inform you that due to the current limitations of the space and pressure from the State of Connecticut, we have no choice but to close the Kidville Westport location effective June 30.

Thank you for being such a warm and embracing community — you have made Kidville a truly special place for all of us. From first steps taken, new friendships made in classes, birthday celebrations, rockin’ out in Rockin’ Railroad, and artistic creations proudly brought home, it has been a great honor to share in these moments.

Effective Friday, June 15, all memberships will be cancelled, and any camp payments and birthday party deposits will be refunded in full with no further billing charges processed. Should you have any questions, please contact us at mayor.westport@mykidville.com and a member of the team will be happy to assist you.

We will miss you all.

(Hat tip: Anne Bernier)

Pic Of The Day #419

Backspace — the way-cool typewriter place behind Little Barn on Church Street South — has moved outdoors. Anyone can rent space to use a typewriter, play a board game or host an event. There’s also a weekly summer camp where kids can unleash their creativity, or do some work in a chill environment.