Category Archives: Local business

Photo Challenge #112

“06880” readers really know their onions.

Well, their coal, anyway.

Last week’s photo challenge showed an old coal bin, on a couple of yards of rail track.

It’s right on the Saugatuck River, behind Saugatuck Sweets. Gault Energy put it there when Saugatuck Center was being redeveloped (in part by their company) several years ago. It pays homage to the long-ago days when boats brought coal up the river to Gault’s headquarters. The coal made part of its journey by rail, before being delivered to Westport customers. Click here for the photo.

Seth Schachter answered correctly, within 4 minutes of the posting. He was followed quickly by William Adler, Daniel Cummings, Virginia Tienken, Robert Mitchell, Peter Flatow, Jamie Roth, Linda Amos, Seth Goltzer, Josh Moritz and Brandon Malin. Congratulations to all (and thanks to Saugatuck Sweets, whose treats are the reason so many folks are down by the river in the first place).

This week’s photo challenge comes courtesy of John Videler. Coincidentally, he grew up right across the river from where the Gault coal bin now sits.

But his image shows a different place entirely. If you know where it is, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/John Videler)

(Photo/John Videler)

 

Double L’s Secret Llibrarian

For over 3 decades, Westporters have known — and loved — the Double L Farm Stand. Lloyd Allen’s Post Road spot is the place for locally grown fruit and veggies, grass-fed beef, banter and community.

For more than 5 years, it’s also been a library.

Every 2 or 3 weeks, someone leaves a book just underneath the front window. Most are by best-selling authors, and/or from the New York Times bestseller list.

Some of the books left underneath the farm stand's front window.

Some of the books left underneath the farm stand’s front window.

Lloyd has no idea who his secret donor is. Nor does he know why he or she does it.

But he’s built a very nice lending library. His customers love it.

And — just like Lloyd’s produce — it’s growing very nicely.

Part of Lloyd Allen's lending library.

Part of Lloyd Allen’s lending library.

Friday Flashback #28

Before South Moon Under. Before Klaff’s. Before Muriel’s Diner, shaped like a trolley car.

Before all that — on the block between what is now Taylor Place and the Taylor parking lot, across the Post Road from what is now Starbucks and what was then the very new Westport Public Library — stood this very handsome row of buildings.

klaffs-block-in-1915

Click on or hover over to enlarge. 

According to Seth Schachter — who sent this fascinating 1915 postcard — the area was traditionally called “Hulbert’s Block” (or perhaps “Hurlbutt’s,” for the famed Weston family). This is the first time he’s seen it called “Post Office Block.”

The post office is at the far right (with a bicycle leaning against the pole). A store belonging to Wm. E. Nash is in the center.

As a bonus, here’s the back of the postcard:

friday-flashback

The sender — “Leffer” — tells Miss Jeannette Smith (in beautiful penmanship) that’s he (or she) has marked the building in which he (or she) will live with an “X.” You can see it on the far right of the postcard — just above the post office.

Meanwhile — totally coincidentally — just yesterday I received this photo from Lee  Saveliff.

It shows the entire block — this time, from the perspective of the corner of the Post Road near Main Street. Taylor Place is on the left. Club Grill later became Muriel’s Diner. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

taylor-place-and-club-grill

Lee says that her great-grandparents — Leonard and Julia Gault — owned the Club Grill building. The larger one — closer to the river and bridge, with Pat’s Diner and Achorn’s Pharmacy (!) — was owned by the Klaff family.

This shot looks to be from the 1940s or ’50s. In November of 1974, the block burned to the ground. Lee saw the flames from her home, on Imperial Avenue.

George Subkoff Antiques To Close

George Subkoff Antiques — for over 25 years Westport’s leading destination for 18th and 19th century American, English and Continental furniture — will close on February 25. Most items are now 30 to 50% off.

The owner — a former president of the Art and Antique Dealers League, and whose pieces can be found in the U.S. State Department reception room and Gracie Mansion – will sell by appointment only. He will work out of his Norwalk warehouse.

George Subkoff, in his store.

George Subkoff, in his store. (Photo/Betsy Pollak)

Subkoff began his career in New York City. In the mid-1980s he opened a store on Route 7 in Wilton. Several years later he moved to Colonial Green, a better location for customers from New York and throughout Fairfield Country.

Three years ago — as buyers began purchasing online — Subkoff relocated to 5 Post Road West, just across the bridge.

In addition to American and European items, he sells stock from China and Southeast Asia.

Wherever it comes from, Subkoff appreciates well-made pieces. In earlier times, he says, “it took 3 months to create something, from 300-year-old trees. Today it’s 30 hours, and a 30-year-old tree.”

Wired!

Yesterday, “06880” posted Jennifer Johnson’s gorgeous photo of Bedford Square.

Sitting outside SoNo bakery, an alert “06880” reader noticed how lovely Seabury Center — across from the new construction — looked in the afternoon light.

She snapped this photo:

seabury-center

Gazing down Church Lane toward Christ & Holy Trinity Church, she shot another:

christ-holy-trinity-church

But as she peered closer, she saw what she believes is a new utility pole.

Suddenly, she wondered: Will this lovely scene soon become a jumble of overhead power and cable lines?

She looked back toward Elm Street, and saw this cluttered mess:

elm-street

Last summer, she thought that all the work on Church Lane meant that utility wires would be buried underground.

Now she’s unsure.

And very, very worried.

15 Belden Place: Little Red House Saved!

In early December, “06880” broke the story about the proposed demolition of #7 and #15 Belden Place — the tiny, seldom-noticed piece of Main Street property just past Avery Place, opposite Veterans Green and Town Hall.

Not many people cared about the 1st building. But boy, did they howl about the 2nd.

#15 is listed in the Westport Historic District Commission inventory. It sits on the bank of the Saugatuck River (with quite a view!). Readers flooded the comments section of that story — and one with 3 other photos — decrying the proposal.

15 Belden Place (Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

15 Belden Place (Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

We haven’t heard much about Belden Place since then. But today alert “06880” reader — and preservation activist — Morley Boyd writes:

Here’s a testament to the 06880 community and its passion for all things Westport.

At a Historic District Commission hearing Tuesday night — just in time for Valentine’s Day — representatives for the new owner of the iconic red house by the Saugatuck River revealed plans to fully restore the beloved local landmark.

“06880” readers were quite vocal when plans to demolish the iconic early 20th century dwelling surfaced late last year. Westporter Peter Nisenson — the property’s contract purchaser, and principal of Westport-based PEN Building Company — took those concerns to heart. He said, “We heard the public and we took  its advice. In many ways this is now a much more interesting project.”

A 2000 view of 15 Belden Place, taken from Parker Harding Plaza. (Photo/Andrea Fine)

A 2000 view of 15 Belden Place, taken from Parker Harding Plaza. (Photo/Andrea Fine)

On the same property, as part of its plan for retail and residential development, PEN intends to also save the large antique building that fronts Main Street which once housed Nappa Sales.

PEN officials noted the uniquely picturesque setting of 15 Belden Place, a building they refer to even on their official site plan as “The Red House.” Provided they can secure the needed zoning variances, the modest structure will remain in its original setting — though slightly raised to prevent further flood damage.

PEN intends to then make repairs as needed to return the house to residential use — but with an eye to preserving its vintage appearance. While the windows will be replaced in kind, the location of the original openings will be kept as they were.

Although the structure will also receive new systems, one thing about Westport’s most famous little house that Pen representatives will  not change: the color.

Robert Storm, the project’s architect, stated: “We peeled off a chip of the red paint. We’re going to match it.”

15 Belden Place, as seen from the parking lot off Main Street.

15 Belden Place, as seen from the parking lot off Main Street.

Give A Little Le Rouge Love: The Sequel

On Sunday, “06880” gave a shout-out to Aarti Khosla. The owner of Le Rouge — the fantastic downtown artisan chocolate shop — is offering handmade hearts for just $5 each. She wants folks to give them to people who have made a difference in someone’s life. “Give a Little Love,” she calls her campaign.

Yesterday, there were lines out the door. Today, countless customers handed out untold numbers of chocolate hearts. What a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Aarti welcomes photos of the recipients. She’ll display them on a “Wall of Love” in her cafe.

You’ll want to see it. But here’s a sneak peek:

give-a-little-love-skye-trader-joes

That’s Doris Ghitelman, bestowing her random act of kindness on Shy, one of Trader Joe’s superb employees.

“She always greets me with a smile, and inspires me with her generous spirit and drive,” Doris says. “Today I let her know how much I appreciate her.”

Doris adds: “When she’s not working at Trader Joe’s, Shy is an immigration law student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.”

Aarti’s campaign runs all through February. So there’s plenty of time for all of us to join Doris and Shy, and “give a little love.”

To Cesar Batalla School, With Love

If you’re like me, you spend time sitting in Riverside Avenue traffic wondering what goes on behind those mysterious windows above Arezzo restaurant.

bonnie-marcus-logoTurns out it’s a design studio, home to the Bonnie Marcus Collection. Launched by Diane von Furstenberg’s former right-hand woman, it’s where 10 very talented people — all local moms — create illustrations for bridal shower, wedding and party invitations; greeting cards; calendars and more.

Bonnie has developed licensing deals with some of the biggest companies in the world. Her designs are found in more than 50,000 retail and online stores.

But today her studio concentrates on one school, in nearby  Bridgeport.

Bonnie’s cards often feature hand-painted sparkles. So Westporter Nicole Straight — who volunteers at the Cesar Batalla School, and is a big fan of Bonnie Marcus Collections — came up with an idea: Give every student there a chance to make a sparkling Valentine’s Day card for someone special.

Westport middle school student Sydney Gusick helped package goodies at the Bonnie Marcus design studio.

Westport middle school student Sydney Gusick helped package goodies at the Bonnie Marcus design studio.

It could be a parent, sibling, teacher or friend. The key is for kids to have fun making their own cards.

Today, Nicole is delivered 1,200 sparkle pens to the school.

Plus Valentine’s gifts for each teacher: A calendar, filled with color and creativity, for every classroom.

Bonnie and the rest of her team enjoyed plenty of smiling faces at Cesar Batalla today.

Who knows? They may find a future designer there too.

(Hat tip: Robin Gusick)

Making a valentine, today at Cesar Batalla School.

Making a valentine, today at Cesar Batalla School.

 

Sidewalk Snow: The Sequel

On Thursday, we got a foot of snow.

Yesterday, “06880” posted a photo of a sidewalk that had not yet been shoveled.

Within a couple of hours, it was.

Then came today’s snow.

Once again it was shoveled. But when the Post Road was plowed, snow was heaped back on the sidewalk.

And snow it goes…

The section of Post Road sidewalk that was cleared, cleared again, then partly covered by plowed snow. (Photo/Adrian Little)

The section of Post Road sidewalk that was cleared, cleared again, then partly covered by plowed snow. (Photo/Adrian Little)

Give A Little Le Rouge Love

Westport is a community with a heart. Many merchants go out of their way to help worthy causes, large and small.

Aarti Khosla takes that idea one step further.

Literally.

For years, the owner of Le Rouge — the fantastic downtown artisan chocolate shop — has  brought a little love into her devoted customers’ lives.

Now — in honor of Valentine’s Day — she’s launching a “Give a Little Love” campaign. The idea is for all of us to share love, during these trying times.

Stop in at her store (190 Main Street, just below the old Sally’s Place) any time, starting today. Pick up a hand-painted chocolate heart for $5 (a great price!). Her only request is that you share these hearts with unsuspecting folks in our community: a school custodian. Your favorite Trader Joe’s checkout clerk. The gas station guy who fills your tires and refuses money. A stranger at the Senior Center.

These are the hand-painted chocolates that Aarti hopes we'll pass along.

The hand-painted chocolate hearts that Aarti hopes we’ll pass along.

These random acts of kindness are “our way of showing we’re a loving community,” Aarti says.

She should know. As a 1st-generation immigrant, she understands firsthand the importance of feeling welcomed.

As a business owner, she considers giving back to the community a privilege.

And as a citizen, she recognizes the value our individual differences bring to our towns. After living around the world, this is her home.

Aarti Khosla, in her red-and-black-themed chocolate shop.

Aarti Khosla, in her red-and-black-themed chocolate shop.

Aarti hopes you’ll take a photo of the moment you “Give a Little Love.” Then email it to lerouge.aarti@gmail.com. She’ll mount those photos as a “Wall of Love” in her cafe, celebrating our broad and loving community.

“Too often, our differences appear insurmountable,” she explains.  “This year, these differences will become our strengths.”

Aarti has other heart-felt plans. She’ll give dozens of Le Rouge chocolate hearts to organizations in Westport, Weston, Norwalk, Bridgeport and surrounding communities. It’s one more way to show that “love matters.”

In the coming weeks, Aarti will open early on weekends. She invites anyone to come and actually make chocolate hearts with her, to give out.

Finally, Aarti will donate 10 percent from the sale of items in this “Give a Little Love” campaign to charity. She’ll honor a different organization each month. Aarti is in this for the long haul.

Which causes will benefit? Aarti wants you to choose. Just click “Comments” below to nominate your favorite. Or stop in to the store, and tell her personally.

February is the shortest month of the year. Thanks to Aarti Khosla, this year it will be the most loving too.

Another piece of Le Rouge love.

Another piece of Le Rouge love.