Category Archives: Local business

Photo Challenge #329

There’s always a back story.

Last week’s Photo Challenge showed trees reflected in the windows of a building.

It was not, as some readers thought, Staples High School, or “the ugly building” on Gorham Island.

It was, in fact, the side of the Wells Fargo Wealth Management building across from Compo Shopping Center, overlooking Trader Joe’s. (Click here to see.)

John Greenspan, Andrew Colabella, Rob Hauck, Jonathan McClure, Martha Witte, Clark Thiemann and Bruce Salvo were all on the money.

So was Michael Calise, who provided this historical perspective:

The original building design approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission included architecturally interesting forms which broke up the exterior façade, and contained the window openings currently in place.

In a show of hubris, the developers omitted the architectural forms and put in the windows on a flat ugly building wall.

Unfortunately, the P & Z was never able to resolve the transgression. Accordingly ordinary folks are and will continue to be burdened with the current lifeless and unattractive façade, until demolition time arrives.

Today’s Photo Challenge comes from Mark Mathias. He parenthetically wonders: doesn’t “etc.” need more than one “data point”?

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

Roundup: Hazardous Waste, Health & Wellness, Kings Highway Bridge …

====================================================

The Westport Weston Family YMCA gets a nice shoutout in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Joanne Kaufman — who with her husband has “perched temporarily” in Fairfield County since fleeing Manhattan during COVID — writes about her return to swimming, at our Y.

The piece is called “Dear Locker Room, You Have No Idea How Much I’ve Missed You.” I thought it would be about the joys of the pool, even in a pandemic — my daily swims at the Y have kept me both physically and mentally fit since it reopened last June — but it is mostly about the camaraderie of the locker room.

Click here to read. (Hat tip: Scott Smith)

=======================================================

Don’t waste a moment!

Westport’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Day is Saturday, April 24 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,) at a new site: the Greens Farm train station.

The free program is open to residents of Westport, Wilton, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.

These are some of the items that may be hanging around your home:

Garage: Paints, gasoline, kerosene, mineral spirits, spray paint, paint strippers, paint thinners, solvents, stains, turpentine, varnishes, wood preservatives, degreasers, etc.

Garden shed: Fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, etc.

General household:  Bleach, charcoal lighter, cleaning chemicals, drain cleaners, flammable liquids, mercury thermometers, moth balls, pet flea shampoos, photo chemicals, rug shampoos, spot removers, art supplies and paints, etc.

The following items are NOT acceptable: Propane tanks, ammunition, flares, explosives, commercial hazardous waste.

Before bringing hazardous household items to the collection site:

  • Make sure items are clearly labeled. Never mix chemicals!
  • Keep products in their original labeled container.
  • Place leaky containers in clear plastic bags.
  • Tighten lids of all containers, and pack items in sturdy cardboard boxes lined with newspaper.
  • Put boxes in the trunk or in back of the vehicle, away from passengers.
  • Leave pets and children home.
  • Keep your windows open. Drive directly to the collection site.
  • Do not smoke or eat while handling hazardous materials.
  • Antifreeze, motor oil, batteries of any type, fluorescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs and electronics can also be recycled at the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.

Put all household hazardous waste in the trunk or rear of vehicles. Only fuel containers will be returned to residents.

Questions> Call the Public Works Department (203-341-1793), or click here.

===================================================

It seems like the only miserable thing that’s dragged on longer than COVID is the replacement project for the Kings Highway North bridge, by Canal Street.

Public works director Pete Ratkiewich reported yesterday:

“The contractor has just finished setting the first 3 of 6 bridge sections today in the pouring rain. The last 3 will be set Friday.

“The schedule has not changed, with completion expected by the end of June. Once the precast sections are in, they will be working on putting the bridge back together and finishing the project as quickly as possible.”

From his lips to …

Once upon a time, traffic flowed easily on Kings Highway North.

=======================================================

Speaking of a long 13 months: Westporters are ready to get back to the fitness routine.

So the timing is great for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association’s Fitness & Health Day. It’s set for Saturday, May 1 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

The event takes place all along Main Street, but many more businesses and organizations are involved.

Fleet Feet in Sconset Square kicks things off, hosting a 5K run throughout downtown. Click here to register (spots are limited).

Westport’s leading studios and clubs — including JoyRide, Pure Barre, Row House, Elliptica, Intensity, Physique57, Club Pilates, Saugatuck Rowing Club, The Dance Collective, Stretch Lab, Kaia Yoga and the Westport Weston Family YMCA — will organize fun (and challenging) classes on main Street.

Walk-ups are not permitted for classes. To register, contact each studio directly. Observers are welcome, of course!

Other health and wellness folks will have a presence too: Franny’s Farmacy, RESTORE Cryo, Cparkly Soul, Wisdom and Youth MedSpa, Embrace Orthodontics, New England Hemp Farm, TAP Strength Lab and Organic Krush.

Other sponsors include Andersen Renewal. Wildflower Land Management, Manna Toast and David Adam Realty.

Working out at last year’s Fitness & Health Day.

=======================================================

On Tuesday, “06880” reported that Bank of America’s Post Road East branch next to Starbucks — across from Carvel — is now closed permanently.

A mailing with the news directed customers to the downtown branch, next to Design Within Reach. There was no work about the fate of BOA’s 3rd Westport office, on the Southport line.

Now there is. A second mailing yesterday notified customers that that branch — at 1815 Post Road East — has also closed for good.

Banks are supposed to be prudent with their money. I have no idea how much it cost to send 2 separate mailings to all Westport customers.

But perhaps that kind of decision is part of the reason Bank of America just reduced its presence here by two-thirds. (Hat tip: John Karrel)

=======================================================

Why did the gull cross the Old Mill parking lot?

To get to the other side? Or some other reason?

Who knows? But whatever the reason, it makes for a cool photo.

(Photo/Teri Klein)

======================================================

And finally … Today in 1943, Albert Hofmann accidentally discovered the hallucinogenic effects of the research drug LSD.

Fred Cantor: Seeing Westport Through SoCal Eyes

“06880” readers know Fred Cantor as an avid commenter, with a keen eye for Westport’s history, and a passion for its present and future. He’s also a multi-talented writer, movie and play producer, and attorney

Fred Cantor (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The 1971 Staples High School graduate has had health issues, so for the past few years he and his wife Debbie have spent winters in Southern California. They were there last year, when the pandemic (and his doctor’s advice) turned a few months’ stay into more than a year. It was the longest time he’d been away from Westport since moving here at age 10.

After 17 months, Fred and Debbie are back. Here’s what he sees.

The first thing that grabbed our attention coming off Exit 17 was the empty train station parking lot. We had read about the large number of people working at home, but that was an eye-opener.

Yet then, almost instantly, there were old welcome sights: the approach to the distinctive Cribari Bridge — with early signs of spring (daffodils in full bloom) — and just past the bridge, 19th-century homes with yards fronted by quintessential New England stone walls or wrought-iron fences.

Daffodils near the William F. Cribari Bridge.

I don’t think Debbie and I crossed a bridge over a river once in our area of SoCal— and certainly not a bridge on the National Register of Historic Places — even before the pandemic, when we did more driving. Southern California has much natural beauty, but in the area of Orange County where we rented, numerous rivers and streams are certainly not among them.

And historic 19th century homes — well, they did not exist there. Some of those towns were created in the 1960s or later.

Handsome home on Bridge Street.

Westport’s historic homes, stone walls, rivers and meandering tributaries — such as can be seen along Ford Road — are among the sights I missed the most.

The scene along Ford Road.

Forsythias blooming all around Westport were another “welcome home” sign; that too was much rarer in our part of SoCal.

Forsythia blooms outside a 1930 Imperial Avenue home.

Heading to the beach, I had to stop at Joey’s By The Shore at its new location. I hoped to see Joey after all this time. but he’s away.

Back in business: Joey’s by the Shore.

That reinforced my feelings that, while many of us embrace longtime local establishments, it is largely the proprietors we really have such warm feelings about. That was certainly true when the Nistico family switched its restaurant operation from the Arrow to the Red Barn.

Walking across the street to Old Mill Beach instantly reminded me why that has long been a personal favorite. It’s not only beautiful; it’s often serene, as exemplified by a couple quietly reading their iPad and newspaper on a nearly empty beach.

Old Mill Beach.

When I was away I stayed in touch with Westport friends via email, texts, social media, occasional phone calls and Zoom.

I followed local Westport news via “06880,” so in certain respects I didn’t feel 3,000 miles away from what was happening here.  By contrast, I vividly recall the summer of 1964. I was at camp in Pennsylvania, and learned of my Little League team winning the Minor League World Series a week after the fact, when I received a letter from my parents with a clipping from the Town Crier.

The most difficult thing about being so far away was not being able to see our 93- and 95-year-old moms. Daily phone calls and occasional FaceTime calls didn’t quite suffice.

So that first weekend back in town generated a teary reunion hug between Debbie and her mom. It was coupled with a culinary discovery: delicious mini-babka at the new Kneads Bakery, which we all enjoyed at their outdoor dining area.

Fred’s wife Debbie Silberstein, Debbie’s mother and aide, at Kneads Bakery. (All photos/Fred Cantor)

That first weekend back also generated our first experience with traffic. At 4 p.m. Saturday there was a big backup on Bridge Street toward Saugatuck. Traffic crawled on 95, spilling over onto local streets.

Other than on the single-lane canyon road leading to Laguna Beach, we never experienced major backups in SoCal. The main local roads have 3 lanes in each direction — with an additional two left-hand turn lanes at major intersections.

During that traffic tie-up on Bridge Street I witnessed an “only in Westport” moment (and something I had never seen in close to 60 years here). Moving right by the traffic on a highly unusual mode of transit were two cyclists on penny-farthings (you can look it up🤨).

Seeing that, I knew for sure I was back in Westport!

Unsung Heroes #186

“06880” has already saluted the COVID vaccinators as Unsung Heroes.

But a recent email got my attention. Susan Maya writes:

The hard working pharmacists at Walgreens are unsung heroes.

Rose Stillo and the pharmacists at Walgreens are busy vaccinating Westport, while still filling our prescriptions and answering our questions.

Staples High School Key Club members, wanted to say “thanks.” They put together goodie bags to thank them for all they have done over the past year.

Staples Key Club at Walgreens.

Which got me thinking. Why not give a shout-out to all the vaccinators again? And everyone else who has made it happen: the Westport Weston Health District, officials who have turned places like Walgreens, CVS, hospitals, college campuses — and the Staples High School fieldhouse (for educators) — into vaccination sites.

But let’s also thank the people like the Staples Key Club, who go out of their way to make people smile in these still-too-difficult days.

Unsung Heroes is not a finite category. There are more than enough people doing more than enough good things these days. So if you’ve given a vaccine, helped someone get one — in a group or individually — or simply made someone at a vaccine site smile: You are our Unsung Hero!

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Roundup: Pizza, Pequot Library, Parkway …

=====================================================

The Westport Farmers’ Market opens next month. But if you thought you were following them on Facebook, you might have missed the news.

During the winter, the WFM page was hacked. They lost over 8,000 followers — and the chance to inform them about news, vendors, special events and more.

They created a new Facebook page, and are rebuilding their following. But many people don’t realize they’re no longer “friends” with the WFM.

A generous supporter offered a “matching” Facebook challenge. If they reach 1,000 followers, the supporter will make donate $1,000 for WFM programs.

So, whether you think you follow the Farmers’ Market on Facebook or not, click here, then click the “Like” button. Then share that post with friends and family.

=======================================================

Speaking of farms and food, here’s a way to keep ’em down on the farm: Pizza.

On Tuesdays starting May 4 (4 to 7 p.m.), “Tony Pizza Napolitano” will make 16-inch wood-fired cheese pizzas live at the Wakeman Town Farm oven.

Tony lives in Weston, and the pizzas he makes at The Grange are an 0688e legend. He uses “only top-quality local, organic ingredients — and love.” Click here for a rave review from Stephanie Webster’s CTBites.

Go to Facebook. Find “Tony Pizza Napolitano,” click “like” and follow the page. The weekly menu is posted every Monday morning. To order, send Tony a private message for a time slot. Once it’s confirmed, pick it up the next day at the Cross Highway farm..

It’s a perfect dinner — particularly if you’re already at Wakeman Field picking up the kids.

Tony Pizza Napolitano

=======================================================

I don’t know whether the long-running Merritt Parkway project is done.

But — after a couple of years at least — all the construction equipment is gone from the Exit 41 parking lot.

It doesn’t look great. But it sure looks a lot better than it did.

=======================================================

The Westport Library is seeking candidates for its Board of Trustees. Of particular interest: people with expertise in finance, fundraising and development for non-profits; knowledge and understanding of current trends in digital media and information technology, or a background in municipal government and/or not-for-profit law.

Trustees serve 4-yeare terms. Click here for more information.Interested candidates should email a resume and letter of interest to rpowell@westportlibrary.org. The deadline is April 23.

=======================================================

Speaking of libraries: The Pequot’s great John James Audubon “Birds of America” exhibit is on display through May 2.

What’s the Westport hook (besides the fact that many “06880” residents love the historic Southport institution)?

The exhibit — and the many Pequot collections — are now safe for (hopefully) another 125 years.

A $1.5 million project to rehabilitate the endangered terra cotta roof was steered by 2 trustees, both from Westport.

Coke Anne Murchison Wilcox — member of a famed Texas family — majored in architecture at Princeton, then studied at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture. She worked for several architects, including Philip Johnson. In the early 1990s Wilcox purchased The Maidstone Arms in East Hampton. She and her husband, Jarvis Wilcox, have 3 adult children.

Charlotte Rogan spent 25 years as a writer before her first novel was published in 2012. The Lifeboat was included on The Huffington Post’s 2015 list of “21 books from the last 5 years that every woman should read,” and has been translated into 26 languages. Her second novel, Now and Again, continued to explore issues of morality and justice. Rogan attended Greens Farms Academy when it was an all-girl’s school, studied architecture at Princeton University, and worked for a large construction firm before turning to writing.

The Pequot Library. with its famed roof.

=======================================================

And finally … in honor of Tony Pizza Napolitano (above):

Roundup: Remarkable Movies, Levitt Grass, Bald Eagle …

=================================================

It’s April break for the Westport schools. And “official” opening week for the Remarkable Theater.

The Imperial Avenue parking lot lineup is a great one.

Today (Tuesday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.): “Minari.” Nominated for 6 Oscars this year, including Best Picture. A Korean-American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream.

Prior to the movie, a documentary short featuring Westport’s Asian-American rally organizers will be shown. It’s produced by 4th Row Films, in association with the Remarkable Theater.

In it, local residents share their experiences growing up, their journey to Westport. and how they’re raising awareness of rising Asian hate by forming a group (they’re on Instagram: @AAPIWestport or email: AAPIWestport@gmail.com).

Official opening night is Friday, April 16 (7:30 p.m.): “The Goonies.” In this 1985 adventure comedy, a bunch of kids trying to save their homes from foreclosure embark on a treasure hunt adventure.

Saturday, April 17 (7:45 p.m.): “Mamma Mia!” ABBA stars in the best sing-along movie ever made.

Wednesday, April 21: “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.” One-time local residents Paul Newman and Robert Redford star in this 1969 classic.

The night includes 4 short non-fiction documentary films before the feature:

  • Gatsby in Westport“: Deej Webb helps convince you that Westport is the town that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.”
  • “Paul Shows Bob the New Playhouse”: A scene from the upcoming documentary about the Westport Country Playhouse.
  • “A Townie Breakfast Sandwich”: A tour of Westport’s breakfast sandwiches, including Calise’s, Village Bagels and Coffee An’.
  • “Westport This Used to Be”: featuring Jill Gault and Antonio Antonelli.

Click here for tickets. Not all shows may be available yet. The Imperial Avenue lot opens an hour before showtime, for tailgating.

A couple of local guys starred in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

=======================================================

The Levitt Pavilion is planning for a summer season — and for at least one bit of housekeeping.

The Conservation Department has approved a request for turf installation near the stage, to replace existing grass (which sometimes turns to mud).

They’ll also install a drainage system to manage runoff in the lower area of amphitheater.

One of the great things about a Levitt performance is dancing in front of the stage. Now we won’t have to worry about “dirty dancing.”

Get on up and dance to the music!

=====================================================

Last March, Bank of America closed its 3 Westport branches.

Today, customers received letters saying that the one at 980 Post Road East — next to the drive-thru Starbucks — will be closed permanent.

The letter said that the downtown branch — next to Design Within Reach — is “still here for you.”

Great! Except that, a few days ago, it was still closed.

No word either on the fate of the branch near the Southport line.

The Bank of America branch at 980 Post Road East is permanently closed.

=======================================================

Starting May 2, children younger than 2 years old are welcome back to the Westport Library. A press release says, “We gladly welcome them to borrow books, audiobooks, CDs, and magazines.” I’m guessing most of that borrowing will be done for them, by somewhat older people.

The Westport Library welcomes children under 2 soon. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

=======================================================

Andrew Colabella snapped a great photo of a Sherwood Mill Pond bald eagle yesterday.

And he provides the back story: It took a position in this tree from 3 egrets. He had just swooped down on one, which had a fish in its talons.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

=======================================================

And finally … in honor of “Butch Cassidy” at the Remarkable Theater:

 

Roundup: Real Estate, Rabbis’ Honors, Raptors …

=====================================================

Westport’s real estate market roars along.

Roe Colletti reports there were 115 house closings in the first quarter of 2021, a 47% increase from 2020 — and the highest number of houses sold in that quarter since at least 2000.

The average closing price rose 33% to $1.84 million, the quarter’s highest since 2000. Homes sold on average for 99.7% of the list price.

There were 87 houses pending (signed contracts) on March 31, up 81% from last year. The average list price of those homes was $2.2 million.

Housing inventory on March 31 was 135  — down 47.3% from the previous March 31, when there were 256 houses on the market. (Hat tip: Chuck Greenlee)

This 12-bedroom, 15 1/2-bathroom estate, set on 7 1/2 acres, is listed for $20 million. (Photo courtesy of KMS Partners @ Compass)

=======================================================

======================================================

This year’s New York Board of Rabbis’ Humanitarian Awards will honor first responders and essential workers.

Dr. Anthony Fauci will be feted. So will the Greater New York Hospital Association.

And … Westport’s own Avi Kaner.

The co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets (and former Board of Finance chair and 2nd selectman) will be cited for the work his family-owned business did during the pandemic.

Morton Williams stores never closed. Employees kept working; senior executives ensured that the supply chain continued.

The company became a lifeline to New York. They worked with the CDC to adjust trucking regulations so that truckers would be comfortable making deliveries. They were among the first in the nation to set aside special hours for seniors and immunocompromised customers; they lobbied aggressively for mask use, and ensured that supermarket workers were included in phase 1B of the state’s vaccinations.

There’s one more Westport connection to the May 10 event: Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of The Conservative Synagogue is president of the New York Board of Rabbis.

Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)

=======================================================

Business Networking International does exactly what its name says.

But there’s a twist: Only one person per profession is allowed to join a chapter. For example, there is one CPA, one architect, one insurance agent.

BNI’s Westport chapter is strong and active. They’ve got 48 members. Last year, they conducted nearly $2 million in business.

There are openings now in a few categories: interior designer, home inspector, developer, heating and air conditioning contractor, fitness club or personal trainer, chef, and attorneys who practice estate and elder law.

Weekly BNI meetings are now held over Zoom. They’ll transition to a hybrid or in-person format this summer or fall. Click here for information, or email info@salonpaulmichael.com.

=====================================================

Today’s osprey update:

Carolyn Doan reports that the Fresh Market ospreys had a busy week rebuilding and freshening up their nest.

Sometimes when they’re not at home, Carolyn and her son head over to Gray’s Creek. Those birds are usually eating. “The male’s chest is more white, while the female has tan markings,” she says. She took this photo of one finishing a fish.

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)

Meanwhile, a group of Y’s Men strolled past this osprey at Longshore:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

=======================================================

Five Wreckers are Staples High School’s Students of the Month.

Senior Henrik Hovstadius, junior Bruno Guiduli, sophomores Leo Fielding and Ari Lerner, and freshman Domenic Petrosinelli were nominated by their teachers.

Principal Stafford Thomas called the honorees “the glue of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together, making it the special place that is.

Staples High School students of the month (from left): Henrik Hovstadius, Domenic Petrosinelli and Ari Lerner. Missing: Bruno Guiduli and Leo Fielding.

=======================================================

The 2021 Music at MoCA Concert Series features a diverse range of jazz, pop and classical outdoor concerts, from April through October. Highlights include performers from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight series.

Multi-instrumentalist and soulful pop artist Matt Nakoa opens the series on Friday, April 30 (7 p.m). Click here for the full schedule, and tickets.

Season passes are available for all 13 concerts, along with jazz, pop or classical packages and individual concert tickets. MoCA members receive discounts. Food and drinks are available at each event.

Matt Nakoa

======================================================

And finally … so who is Matt Nakoa (the first MoCA concert performer this year — see above). Watch below:

 

Dynamic Solution Proposed For Transfer Station

Alert — and conscientious — “06880” reader David Meth writes:

Anyone who uses the transfer station sees many items in good or workable condition tossed away because they are no longer wanted, used, or just out of date.

Wouldn’t it be nice to consider someone else who could use them?

This is especially true of bicycles. We are fortunate to have Cycle Dynamics. Owner Charlie Gander has a warm and open heart. He and his crew take discarded bikes, fix and tune them up, then provide them to children through 3 Bridgeport charities.

I used to take bikes, when they were in reach, from the transfer station “metal” section, slide them in the back of my car, and bring them to Cycle Dynamics.

Now, with cameras everywhere, it’s not possible. I understand the risks of someone getting hurt, but there is a solution. In a town whose population comes together to support people in need, can’t we create a section for donations, rather than trash these reusable items?

Bicycles provide such joy. And Cycle Dynamics provides a way for children to enjoy them.

Great idea, Dave. Westport: What’s the next step toward making this happen?

Bikes at the transfer station on Thursday — ready to be trashed, not allowed to be taken. (Photo/David Meth)

Roundup: Remarkable Theater, Clear Cutting, Coffee An’ …

=====================================================

Art imitated life last night, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

A 40-foot movie screen was erected for the Remarkable Theater’s 2nd season — and a cameraman was there to film it.

The (metaphorical) curtain rises tonight at 7:30 p.m., with “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” “Sneak previews” follow through Tuesday. Click here for details and tickets.

(Photo/Doug Tirola)

======================================================

A reader writes:

“We residents on Pequot Trail are very upset by this week’s clear cutting of a lovely wooded area that provided privacy for multiple properties around the entrance to our street. Every time I turn onto the street now, my heart sinks.

“We’re sad enough that the charming house is being torn down — we get that this is inevitable — but did all of the mature trees and coveted privacy for multiple homes need to be callously destroyed?

“I called the town and was told that initiatives to restrict tree cutting have failed multiple times. I wonder what needs to happen to get our town, which prides itself on being so ‘green,’ to put a stop to this kind of environmental desecration?

“To preempt  any comments about ‘city people’ moving in, this property was bought by a Westport family. That makes it so much more disappointing.

Clear cutting, around the house that will be demolished.

======================================================

When COVID canceled last year’s annual plant sale, the Westport Garden Club planted a sign: “See You in 2021.”

True to their promise, this year’s in-person (sale is set for Friday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). The new location is Jesup Green.

Gardeners can purchase plants the day of the sale, or online starting May 1. Click here for information.

Online orders will be available for curbside pick-up. And club members will be on hand during the sale to offer expert advice.

In more Garden Club news: “Friday Flowers,” the campaign initiated in the dark days of last spring to lift spirits and beautify the town, returns this summer. The first installation (May 7) is at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Floral arrangements made by club members will be displayed each Friday through Labor Day.

=======================================================

The annual Compo Beach grooming project is underway. As the weather turns nice — and more folks are vaccinated — it comes not a moment too soon.

The work is impressive to watch on the ground.

And even more impressive by drone.

(Photo/Daniel Johnson)

=======================================================

For a long while, Coffee An’ was open for takeout only.

They’ve now got indoor seating too. It’s limited, socially distanced, safe — and within amazing aroma distance of their wide selection of donuts (an’ more).

There are plenty of great breakfast and lunch places in town. Coffee An’ is at the topo of any list.

(Photo/Katherine Bruan)

======================================================

Amy Mandelbaum is vice president of the OUT Foundation, which encourages the LGBTQ community to participate in fitness, health and wellness activities.

She also owns CrossFit Westport. There’s no better place to encourage the inclusion she champions.

So on Saturday, April 17 (9:30 a.m. to noon), her gym — just over the Norwalk line, at 19 Willard Road — sponsors an “OUT Athletics” event. The warmup and workout is fun, doable — and everyone is welcome.

There’s food, coffee, and gift bags from sponsors like Garnier and Goodr sunglasses. Each heat lasts 45 minutes to an hour; then comes (socially distant) socializing.

For more or information or to sign up, click here.

Amy Mandelbaum

=====================================================

With little rainfall and low humidity recently, Westport’s brush fire danger is high.

The Fire Department responded to 2 brush fires yesterday — simultaneously.

The one on Sherwood Island Connector was quickly extinguished. The other — between Parsell Lane and I-95 — brought 30 firefighters and officers from Westport and Fairfield, with 7 engines and 1 ladder. It burned 3 1/2  acres, but there was no property damage or injuries.

Westport Firefighters were dispatched to two simultaneous brush fires, one on the Sherwood Island Connector at Nyala Farms Road and the other on Parsell Lane.

Be careful out there!

(Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)

=======================================================

This is amazing! Who would have guessed that “the friendliest curbside experience in America” is located right here in Westport? At our Fresh Market!

A cynic might demand proof.

I just want to know: Is this “the friendliest curbside experience” for supermarkets throughout America only? Or does it include everything: restaurants, bookstores, hardware stores, liquor stores, whatever?

Either way, this is very, very impressive.

=======================================================

If you missed Monday night’s TEAM Westport Teen Diversity Essay Contest livestream — or read the essays on “06880” the next day, and want to watch the winners’ powerful deliveries — click below.

Spoiler alert: They’re great.

======================================================

“06880” has faithfully reported on ospreys: their return, their nests, even their empty platforms.

But they’re not the only wildlife to admire. Sherwood Mill Pond teems with more than ospreys. Matt Murray snapped this shot of a heron yesterday.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

======================================================

And finally … today is the birthday of songwriter Yip Harburg. He was born on the Lower East Side in 1896. he survived the blacklist of the 1950s, and died in 1981.

Le Rouge Turns Blue

The name of the business is Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates.

It’s as clever — a play on owner Aarti Khosla’s name — as her creations are good.

Since opening in 2014 at 190 Main Street — just past Avery Place, underneath the old Sally’s Place — the store has satisfied Westporters’ sweet teeth with amazing flavors. Aarti has also been a great neighbor, helping countless charitable causes here and in Bridgeport.

Aarti Khosla

Her store and packaging are known for their distinctive black (for chocolate) and red (her favorite) colors.

So why has “Le Rouge” now turned to blue?

For a while, designer friends have told Aarti that her polka dot and red packaging — though bold and eye-catching — distracted customers from the beauty of her hand-painted chocolates.

She hired The Visual Brand — around the corner on Church Lane — for her brand redesign.

As she talked with them about her childhood — her parents are from Punjab; her father would bring back amazing chocolates from his travels to France — they came up with the line “Flavors from Paris to Punjab.” It’s incorporated into artwork depicting the skylines of both countries, and is the “crown jewel” of the new design.

The design was finalized in late 2019. But there were issues producing the new boxes locally. With the holidays approaching, Aarti put the project on hold.

One day, she saw an Instagram post about a packaging company based in New Delhi. She was headed there soon, for a wedding. At the factory she met a young woman named Arti. They worked long distance with our Aarti, after she returned home.

That’s where the royal blue came in. The first design made in that color palate was for the “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts.

During the pandemic, Aarti and Arti finalized 27 new package designs. They arrived right before Valentine’s Day.

You can see the new blue at Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates. She has no plans to change that evocative, colorful name.