Category Archives: Local business

Coastal: Another Look At Construction And Trees

If there’s one thing I’ve learned writing “06880,” it’s that every voice deserves to be heard.

I heard Joe Feinleib’s this weekend. I wanted to learn more about his company — Coastal Construction — in light of the controversy over the home he’s building for himself on Prospect Road.

Joe and Coastal have been in Westport for 18 years. He’s got a design degree, and says that he starts every project with aesthetics in mind — not economics.

He wanted to change the look of homes being built here: “the same box Colonial, almost totally devoid of character.” He says that out of over 100 homes built in Westport, none are duplicates.

Joe is responsible too for the building at the southeast corner of Morningside North and the Post Road (First County Bank and the Coastal Point apartments). He used a combination of native grasses and, in the rear — after collaborating with neighbors — slow-growing spruces.

Coastal’s Morningside development, with rosebud trees.

He’s also behind the restoration of the mill building on Richmondville Avenue. Rather than knocking it down to put up 5 or 6 new homes, he is restoring the historic structure as a condo complex, with extensive amenities.

Sycamore tree saved at The Mill at Richmondville.

Many of the trees have been retained, including a 150-year-old sycamore. At Oak Ridge off Imperial Avenue, Joe saved a stand of majestic white oaks.

Oak Ridge oaks.

“They posed no hazard to the family that will live there, or on the neighboring property,” he says. With more than one of the Prospect Road trees rotted in the center, and 2 of the larger trees canted more than 20%, he cites safety as the reason for cutting those down.

Joe says he looks forward to working with the Planning & Zoning Commission to review ways to preserve town trees. When that’s not possible, he advocates a sustainable plan that helps property owners move forward in an environmentally sound way.

Oak tree saved on Prospect Road.

Roundup: The Storm, The Edge, Westport Tees …

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The predicted snow/rain/windstorm was a washout — figuratively and literally.

But before the snow turned to a little bit of rain around midnight, Jonathan Alloy snapped this shot in the Coleytown area. It’s a scene in our yards most of us missed.

(Photo/Jonathan Alloy)

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The Edge is just over the border, in Norwalk. Plenty of Westporters work out there.

One member writes: “My locker, with a dial combo lock, was broken into last Friday 12:30 p.m., with a sizable loss. With no cameras inside and no witnesses, the thief will likely never be caught.

“Management and the police were informed. I’ve posted on The Edge Facebook page, but it keeps getting taken down by them.

“Be careful what you leave in gym lockers!”

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Totes, tumblers, tank tops and more — all are available with new Westport themes on Jillian Elder’s “Finding Westport” site. Click here to see, and order.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is a video.

On Saturday evening, Brian Sikorski spotted a huge bald eagle roosting on a branch outside Brian’s bedroom window. He’s seen a few eagles at Compo Beach and Longshore. As he took a photo, the majestic bird flew to a nearby tree, where a pair with white heads were perched.

“Absolutely breathtaking!” Brian says.

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And finally … you knew this was coming:

Roundup: Stop & Shop, Staples Wrestlers, Wrecker Bob …

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It’s one thing for Stop & Shop to crow about their recent completely unnecessary, busiest-time-of-the-year, confuse-every-shopper shuffle, in which they randomly decided that just about every product should go elsewhere. They even switched the ice cream from one side of the aisle to the other, presumably because they could.

It’s another thing for them to insert a flyer in this week’s Westport News, celebrating their “Grand Reopening,” even though they never closed.

But to say they’re located in East Westport?!

Sorry, guys. You can change your supermarket around all you want. But you can’t simply make up a place that doesn’t exist.

(Photo/Beth Keane)

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Gavin Zahler won only the 2nd wrestling match of his career yesterday.

But it was a huge one. The Staples High School sophomore — who joined the team only this winter — gutted out a 6-2 decision in the final match of the John Chacho Dual Meet Tournament.

That gave the host Wreckers a 36-33 win over Foran-Milford, and the championship of the 8-team event. It’s named for the legendary former Staples and Westport PAL wrestling coach.

And he was there throughout the day, cheering another generation of grapplers on.

The wrestling team hoists Gavin Zahler — and the team trophy — after the sophomore’s tournament-clinching win. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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The John Chacho Tournament also saw the first-ever appearance of the Staples mascot at a wrestling event.

“Wrecker Bob” — created out of foam by Alicia D’Anna and her daughter Sami  — usually hangs out at football games. Now that he’s branching out, perhaps he’ll also appear at hockey games, gymnastics meets and golf matches.

Usually, the identity of the person behind the costume is a secret. On Saturday, it was Seamus Brannigan — the 8th grade brother of varsity wrestler Eamon.

The sky is the limit for this handsome dude.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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It’s been a freezing weekend in Westport. But the waves still lap against the Compo Beach shore. And these “Westport … Naturally” geese don’t mind a bit.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … in honor of the Staples wrestling team’s great victory yesterday:

Roundup: Federal Reserve, Fast Runners, Fine Cuts …

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As predicted on “06880” earlier this month, President Biden has nominated Sarah Bloom Raskin to the Federal Reserve. If confirmed, she would serve as vice chair for supervision. The post was created after the 2008 financial crisis.

Raskin — the daughter of longtime Westporter Arlene Bloom and her late husband Herb — is a law professor at Duke University. She served as a Federal Reserve governor before joining the Treasury Department under President Obama. She is married to Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland.

The New York Times says of Raskin: “She is a Harvard-trained lawyer who studied economics as an undergraduate at Amherst College, and she has a track record of pushing for tougher bank regulation — something that makes her popular among Democrats, but which could earn her a tough confirmation battle.”

Republican Senator Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania says: “I have serious concerns that she would abuse the Fed’s narrow statutory mandates on monetary policy and banking supervision to have the central bank actively engaged in capital allocation.”

Click here for the full Times story.

Several years ago, Sarah Bloom Raskin addressed Westport’s Y’s Men.

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Two track items of interest:

Last night, the Staples High School sprint medley relay team won their race in the New York Armory with the fastest time in the country this season: 3:36.73. It’s well under the qualifying time for the national meet.

Congratulations to Samir Mott (200 yards), David Sedrak (200), Bruno Guiduli (400) and Jalen St. Fort (800)!

From left: Jalen St. Fort, Samir Mott, Bruno Guiduli, David Sedrak. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

Meanwhile, Henry Wynne — the 2012 Staples graduate, and one of the best runners in that track program’s storied history — will run in the Wanamaker Mile at the 114th Millrose Games. They’re set for the Armory on January 29.

The Wanamaker Mile is one of the most renowned races in all of track and field. Wynne — who in 2016 was the NCAA mile champion, running for the University of Virginia — now competes professionally, for the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts. (Hat tip: Peter Gambaccini)

Henry Wynne (Photo/Will Hoffman for Runner’s World)

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More Staples news: The January Students of the Month.

Seniors Alex Anastasi and Jacob Yarish, juniors Mia Vindiola and Jackson Oliver, sophomores Timothy Herold and Sofia Santamaria, and freshman Maxwell Manchester, “help make the a welcoming place for their peers and teachers alike. They are the ‘glue’ of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who make the high school the special place it is.”

Congratulations to these 7 worthy teenagers!

From left: Jackson Oliver, Maxwell Manchester, Sofia Santamaria, Alexa Anastasi, Mia Vindiola. Missing: Timonthy Herol, Jacob Yarish.

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Throughout the pandemic, Cohl Katz has been making “haircut house calls.” She’ll continue doing that. But now that she’s back in Westport, you can come to her too.

The celebrity hair stylist and makeup artist has worked with — among others —  Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barbara Bush, Bob Dylan, Cal Ripken, Cindy Crawford, Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton, Hilary Swank, Jerry Seinfeld, John McEnroe, Johnny Depp, Katie Couric, Keith Richards, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martha Stewart, Mary Tyler Moore, Mel Gibson, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali, Nicole Kidman, Phil Donohue, Ray Charles, Robert Redford, Robin Williams, Rod Stewart, Rosie O’Donnell, Sting and Tom Cruise

She invites “06880” readers — famous and less well known — for a haircut, blowout and make-up for a special evening, or a make-up lesson.

Text 917-848-9596 to schedule an appointment.

Cohl Katz adjusts Jodie Foster’s “Clarice Starling” wig.

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I’m not sure why we haven’t seen this before. But Elena Nasereddin spotted these “kissing rocks” yesterday at Sherwood Island State Park. They’re perfect for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Elena Nasereddin)

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And finally … Monday is the official celebration of Martin Luther King Day. But the minister and human rights activist who — in his 39 short years — changed history was born today, in 1929. We don’t have to wait until the holiday to celebrate his contributions to our nation, and those of the countless men and women he inspired.

Friday Flashback #279

Robert Augustyn is an antique map dealer. He buys and sells items from all over the world. But as a longtime Westporter, he has a soft spot for anything with a local connection.

He recently found a great one: a business directory from 1854. He believes it once hung at the Westport train station.

It is the only known example from nearly 170 years ago. Westport as a separate community was not yet 20 years old. The train station was new too.

Even Gault — our oldest continuing company, by far — would not set up operations for another 9 years, around the corner.

Click on or hover over to enlarge.

It’s not easy to read (though the misspelling of the very important word “Bussiness” jumps out quite noticeably).

But what I wouldn’t give to go back in time and learn more about

  • Parkis, Vincent & Hinman Shipbuilders (“Repairing done on most favorable terms”)
  • Dr. B. St. John (“surgeon and mechanical dentist … Persons waited upon at their residences for examination and short operations if desired”)
  • J. W. Hill merchant tailor (Clothes cut in the latest style”)
  • The Metropolitan Oyster & Dining Saloon (whose oysters could be “promptly shipped to any part of the country”)
  • The Saugatuck Hill Seminary for Young Ladies.

Click here for a full description, or to purchase for $6,500.

The price probably sounds better in 1854 dollars.

Roundup: Missing Woman, Signs Of Compassion, Floodplain Management …

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An extensive search river and land search was conducted yesterday by the Westport Department and Fire Dive team, after a 22-year-old woman disappeared from a canoe near the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

After 5 hours, the woman was seen on a surveillance tape at a local business. The search was suspended.

Early this morning she was located in Norwalk, and reunited with her family. Chief Foti Koskinas thanked all who aided in the search.

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In 2017, Miggs Burroughs’ “Signs of Compassion” project inspired visitors to the Westport Library.

Based on Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name — and spurred partly by the darkening political climate — the noted Westport artist asked 30 Westporters to participate.

Old and young; Black, white and Asian — all learned one word or phrase in American Sign Language. Through Miggs’ unique lenticular photography, each sign shows the beauty of that form of communication. It’s also a “visual chorus of our community, expressing the need for compassion in the world.”

Nearly 5 years later — thanks to the generosity of Westporter Melissa Ceriale — the 30 portraits have been permanently acquired by Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains. They were installed on Wednesday.

COVID has delayed a formal unveiling. But the hospital has a robust social media presence, and they’re showing off their new acquisition to the world.

As Miggs notes, his piece lives on, “in a place dedicated to compassion and healing.”

Miggs Burroughs’ “Signs of Compassion,” at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. And yes, that’s me in the top row, 2nd from left.

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Want to know what goes on behind the scenes at “06880”?

I don’t give tours (because there’s nothing to see). But you can watch my talk to the Y’s Women.

I spoke on Monday, via Zoom. I talked about how the blog began, how it grew, why I got rid of anonymous comment, and much more.

They women asked very wise (ho ho) questions.

Click here to see. Then click on some of the other, equally (or more!) fascinating speakers the Y’s Women have hosted over the past couple of years.

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Looking for some great reading this holiday weekend?

Click here for the “Westport Progress Report on Floodplain Management.”

As you probably know, the report is prepared annually to enable residents to receive a 10% reduction in flood insurance. That insurance is offered by FEMA, to communities participating in the Community Rating System.

Municipalities are ranked from 1 to 10. A ranking of 1 offers the highest reduction in flood insurance rates. Actions taken by the Planning & Zoning Commission over the years have brought Westport’s ranking from 10 to 8. More efforts are planned.

Insurance is important to homeowners in flood-prone areas like Compo Cove.

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Speaking of water: Yesterday was moving day at Joey’s by the Shore.

Equipment was moved out of the longtime deli/market, now closed for several months.

The property has been on the market. No deals have been finalized, and there is no word on what is next for the historic property across from Old Mill Beach.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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Nicholas Marsan has been promoted to deputy chief of the Westport Fire Department, while Theodore Crawford has risen to lieutenant. They — and new Fire Chief Michael Kronick — were sworn in yesterday at Town Hall.

The promotions fill vacancies created by the retirement of Chief Robert Yost on January 1.

Marsan became a Westport firefighter in 2007. He then served as fire inspector and lieutenant.

He is a veteran of the US Army and the CT Army National Guard. In 2010 he was deployed overseas. He received the Army Commendation Medal for Valor during operations in Afghanistan, and is a 2-time recipient of Westport Rotary Public Protection & Safety Awards, and 2 unit citations.

Marsan was also president of the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Association, Local 1081. He earned a master’s degree in history from Western Connecticut State University. He is now completing a master’s in public administration and emergency management at Sacred Heart University.

Crawford joined the department in 2011. He is an EMT, and president of the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation.

He is also a rescue diver on the Westport Police/Fire dive team, and a hazardous materials technician on the Fairfield County Hazmat Team. He received a Westport Rotary Public Protection & Safety Award, the Firefighter Dominic Zeoli Award, and 2 Unit Citations.

Crawford is a graduate of Clarkson University, majoring in civil engineering.

From left: Theodore Crawford, Nicholas Marsan, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Fire Chief Michael Kronick.

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Audiences across the country look forward to tonight’s “Stars on Stage From Westport Country Playhouse” (Friday, January 14, 9 p.m. Channel 13; check listings for other PBS stations).

Shoshana Bean is the star of this episode. It was taped in September, before 2 local audiences.

But that’s not the only Shoshana news this week. The “Wicked” and “Witness” actress has just been signed to the cast of the new musical comedy “Mr. Saturday Night,” with Billy Crystal. The shows opens at the Nederlander Theatre on April 27.

Click below for a teaser of tonight’s broadcast.

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For some reason, Westporters are captivated by turkey vultures. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image comes from Morningside Drive North.

“There must be 3 dozen, in the trees and on the ground,” says Jilda Manikas.

(Photo/Jilda Manikas)

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And finally … in honor of the “Westport Progress Report on Floodplain Management” (see above):

Roundup: MLK Event, Fleet Feet, Local Art …

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There’s a new time for this Sunday’s Dr. Martin Luther King celebration.

The free program featuring author Heather McGhee begins at 2:30 p.m. It had been set for 3 p.m.

Her book — The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together spent 10 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Her TED talk — “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone” — reached 1 million views in just 2 months.

Due to COVID, the event — sponsored by the Westport Library, Westport Country Playhouse, TEAM Westport, Westport/Weston Interfaith Council, and the Westport/Weston Interfaith Clergy — is now online only.

The program includes performances by the Bridgeport Boys Choir, and dance by the Regional Center for the Arts.

To register for the link, click here.

Heather McGhee

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Fleet Feet is leaving Sconset Square.

But Westport’s favorite running store is not going far. The new location is just a jog away: the Fresh Market plaza, next to Little Beet.

Fleet Feet will double its size, offering an even larger selection of footwear, apparel and accessories. The more open space will also allow for expanded service, and social distancing. The move is planned for mid-February.

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Sure, Local to Market is a great place to shop for food with “local” ties.

But it also provides food for the soul.

Westport artist Elizabeth Petrie DeVoll has a solo show at the store — formerly Talbots and before that, the Remarkable Book Shop — at the corner of Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza.

The show also features cards by Jane Gilman Fleischner.

There’s a great tie-in with the historic building. DeVoll creates new art from old objects. She “enlivens history and questions the supposed border between the past and the present. She sees possibility in the discarded, weathered, and forgotten.”

Her work is part of a rotating gallery. All art shown at Local to Market comes through the Artists Collective of Westport.

Elizabeth Petrie DeVoll, with her work at Local to Market.

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A free Zoom event featuring Westport child psychiatrist Gwen Lopez-Cohen Dr. Harold Koplewicz is set for next Tuesday (January 18, 7:30 p.m.). They’ll discuss Koplewicz’s new book, The Scaffold Effect: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety.

Koplewicz says that the deliberate buildup and then gradual loosening of parental support (like scaffolding on a building) is the single most effective way to encourage youngsters to climb higher, try new things, grow from mistakes, and develop character and strength.

Click here to register. Sponsors are Schoke Jewish Family Service and the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County.

Dr. Gwen Lopez-Cohen

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An opening reception for the latest George Billis Gallery show — featuring 34 artists curated by New York critic and writer David Masello — is set for Saturday (January 15, 4 to 7 p.m.).

The public is welcome.

Norm Siegel’s “Mona Rolla” oil on canvas is featured at the new George Billis Gallery show.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Marie Gross. She spotted these beautiful birds on Riverside Avenue.

(Photo/Marie Gross)

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And finally … Ronnie Spector died yesterday, after a brief battle with cancer. She was 78.

Her career was defined both as the leader of the spectacular Ronettes, and her marriage to the abusive producer Phil Spector.

The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 by Keith Richard of the Rolling Stones.

Ronnie’s sister and fellow Ronette Estelle Bennett died in 2009. But their music will live on for ages.

Happy 100th, Betty Dorfman!

Tomorrow, Betty Dorfman turns 100 years old!.

Westporters with long memories remember her as part of the family that owned the Connecticut Yankee — a clothing store where ASF Sports is now.

But there’s much more to her life to celebrate.

Betty Rosalind Strauss was born in Brooklyn on January 12, 1922. She and her brother Sheldon were raised by a father who was left an invalid after World War I, and a strong mother who ensured her children the finest educational opportunities.

Betty attended New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn and then City College of New York, from which she graduated with a BA in business administration in 1941. She added an MS in 1945.

Betty married college sweetheart Arnold Dorfman in 1942. While Arnold served in the US Army during World War II, Betty taught high school. After the war they moved around a bit for Arnold’s retail business, and began to raise  daughters Merle and Wendy.

The family moved to Westport in 1955, where they opened their Connecticut Yankee store. Betty worked alongside Arnold there. So did her mother Estelle, who had then moved to Westport as well.

The Dorfman family, early 1950s.

Betty also became active in the Temple Israel Sisterhood, and served as president of the Fairfield County chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.

After the Connecticut Yankee closed, Betty earning a 6th year professional diploma in education. She joined the University of Bridgeport as associate professor of secretarial studies in 1964.

Her career at UB was long and successful. Betty established and directed the nation’s first university-level word processing major. She shared her expertise with educators, publishers, and executives from around the country.

Betty was a stickler for the English language. She insisted that all secretarial students learned traditional English grammar and punctuation, and later taught journalistic style and usage to students in the Mass Communications Department.

Upon retirement in 1985, Betty was named associate professor emeritus by the UB Board of Trustees. Arnold suffered a serious stroke the following year, and she spent the next 6 years as caregiver. Arnold died in 1992.

Betty Dorfman, late 1990s.

During the next 2 decades Betty was an active member of Y’s Women, including co-chair of Trips and Travel for 10 years. She organized European excursions with co-chair Dorothy Coen.

She enjoyed playing bridge and taking classes at the Senior Center. Betty alao had a rewarding 10-year relationship with fellow Westporter Max Levinson. They had been couples friends for years. Max’s wife Eve had died a year after Arnold.

Betty moved to independent living at Meadow Ridge in 2012, where she remained active as chair of the Activities Committee. She moved into assisted living there in 2018, where she still resides.

Betty is delighted with the excellent care she receives and by her private part-time aide, Andrea Roudenis. She still gets her hair done every week, and appreciates comments about what an elegant woman she is even in her late 90s.

Although Covid has made it difficult for her family to visit recently, Betty is surrounded by a loving family. It includes daughter Merle Spiegel, who moved back to Westport in 1988; her daughter Kate Rosewood and husband Rich, and Betty’s great-granddaughters Vanessa and Fiona.

Betty’s other daughter, Wendy Roberts, has lived in Virginia most of her adult life but visits regularly, even during the pandemic. Wendy has 2 daughters: Jenn Roberts Ma, who lives in Virginia with husband Roger and Betty’s great-grandson Owen; and Amanda Pierson, who lives in Houston with husband Gene and Betty’s great-grandsons Robbie and Bennett. All keep in regular touch with Betty by phone and FaceTime, when not able to visit.

4 generations, 2021.

Betty’s family says she is “beloved for her sharp wit, deep intellectual curiosity, kindness, fierce loyalty to friends and family, and impeccable elegance. Hers is a life well lived – and an inspiration to those who know and love her.”

Happy 100th, Betty!

Roundup: The Tender Bar, Stop & Shop …

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“Tender Bar” is a new movie, which recently began streaming on Amazon Prime.

Directed by George Clooney, starring Ben Affleck, and based on the best-selling memoir by J.R. Moehringer, it includes a Westport scene. The Hollywood Reporter says:

“During a visit to Sydney’s home in the la-di-da suburbia of Westport, Connecticut, J.R.’s tense breakfast with her parents (Mark Boyett and Quincy Tyler Bernstine) tips into the absurd, recalling the memorably uncomfortable meet-the-parents meal in Goodbye, Columbus, and giving Clooney a chance to express his taste for edgier, satiric terrain.”

Fred Cantor — who sent along that tidbit — adds: “Even though the author’s sometime girlfriend at Yale was from Westport, the scenes at the train station and her home were filmed in a Boston suburb.”

One more local connection: The cast includes Christopher Lloyd. As a Staples High School student in 1958, he helped found what is now the nationally known Players drama troupe.

Click here for the full Hollywood Reporter review.

“The Tender Bar” (Photo courtesy of Amazon)

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Omicron may be rampant, but Stop & Shop has eliminated its special 6 a.m. opening time — instituted early in the pandemic, to give older shoppers special access to a supposedly emptier store. The new opening hour for everyone is 7 a.m. (Hat tip: John Karrel)

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Friday’s snowstorm has moved on. But scenes like these remain. This one was captured for “Westport … Naturally” by June Rose Whittaker.

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … Happy 109th birthday, Mr. President!

 

Party Time At Vivid-Tek!

Vivid-Tek is one of Westport’s best “wow!” ideas.

Mark Motyl — a longtime resident, and former bond trader-turned-home builder — has created a unique product.

He’s taken those huge in-home theater screens — which look so great when you’re watching them, and so intrusive when you’re not — and hidden them in plain sight.

The screen hides in a credenza or bench — which the buyer helps customize — and emerges with the press of a button only when needed.

The 4K picture is crisp and clear. Great sound comes from Dolby Atmos speakers.

Vivid-Tek’s screen and controls can also be hidden in a bench.

An Apple 4K TV controls the system. Anything on your phone (or other devices) can be projected onto the screen.

And it’s great not just for movies and sports events. Westporters have used the technology for Zoom conferences, calls with Grandma, even online piano lessons.

Game on at Vivid-Tek.

I’ve written about Vivid-Tek before. Now there’s another angle. And it comes just as cabin fever may be setting in.

Motyl is opening his 1252 Post Road East studio — located between Fortuna’s and the same-day COVID testing center — to families or small groups of up to 6 people, for private evenings of fun.

Just reserve a time on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday night. Select what you want to watch. Then enjoy a private movie, show or game in what would be the comfort of your own home, if you had a 110-inch screen that rose up whenever you wanted it to.

Click here, then click on “Visit Showroom” for a reservation. Then, if you’ve watched a particularly cool event, let “06880” know. We’ll post a photo!

A small group gathering at Vivid-Tek.