Category Archives: Local business

UPDATE: Make It Monday For Mystic Market

Earlier this afternoon, “06880” reported that Mystic Market’s final walk-through was scheduled for next Tuesday. The long-awaited Saugatuck store would open the next day.

But that final town approval was all that remained. Owners were ready. The staff was champing at the bit.

Town officials had first said they’d do that walk-through this week. Then they put it off until Tuesday.

Now it’s back on for this week. So, Mystic Market says, it looks like they’ll open at 10 a.m. Monday.

Just a bit of Westport — and Mystic — magic.

Mystic Market takes over the former Blu Parrot, Jasmine and Arrow property.

Mystic Market Opens Wednesday

When the Blu Parrot closed in 2013, Saugatuck lost a great venue for live music.

For more than 4 years, the Charles Street property — the gateway to Westport off I-95 Exit 17, and for decades the site of the beloved Arrow restaurant — sat vacant. Weeds grew near boarded-up windows.

Then Mystic Market announced they’d move in. Area residents — many of whom still mourn the loss of Peter’s Bridge Market — rejoiced. Those who knew of Mystic’s 3 other locations in eastern Connecticut were particularly pleased.

Mystic Market, on Charles Street.

Mystic Market touts “gourmet quality products, at marketplace prices.” They offer groceries, soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, grinders, a coffee bar, and a bakery serving breakfast goods, breads and desserts. Catering is also available.

That was November 2017. “A spring opening is planned,” “06880” cheerily reported.

Spring 2018 came and went. So did summer, fall and most of winter. Spring 2019 is exactly 28 days away.*

But good things are worth waiting for. Owner Charles Spathakis says they’ve passed their health inspection. They should get their certificate of occupancy on Tuesday. They’re shooting to open the next day.

Final work is being done now. The interior looks great. The state-of-the-art kitchen gleams. Staff is being trained.

The Saugatuck arrow definitely points in the right direction.

* Hallelujah!

Biscotti are ready for sale.

Unsung Heroes #86

A few weeks ago we honored Vautrin Auto Service as our Unsung Hero.

Turns out there’s another Unsung Hero almost directly across the street. Alert — and very satisfied — reader Charmian Valante writes: 

My daily read of “06880” helps me feel a little bit closer to the town I love. Last year, as you highlighted the closing of some of my favorite businesses — Crossroads Hardware, Christie’s Country Store, Commuter Cafe — I thought about my own shopping behavior, and how I could do more to support the remaining stores that are so vital to our community.

Cooper’s Auto Parts in Westfair Center is at the top of my list. I hope you might adding them to your Unsung Hero list.

Sandy, who runs the store, has uncanny ability to know exactly what part is needed for your. Then he takes the time to talk me through the installation process.

 

On Yelp he has a legion of fans who treasure his advice and guidance as much as I do. The reviews include:

  • “These are the nicest most accommodating, most helpful guys who an old auto nerd could ever hope to do deal with.”
  • “Coop knows parts and problems always willing to sell you only what you need to get the job done.”
  • “This is what an auto parts store should be.”
  • “They are the Car Talk guys of Westport.”

When my daughter’s friend’s tail light went out, I went to Cooper’s to get a replacement bulb. Sandy immediately knew the halogen light needed for her 2007 Camry. He gave me a box so I wouldn’t touch the bulb, and explained to me how the oils on my hand could transfer to the bulb and crack it when we installed.

On other occasions, he has come out of his shop to look at a windshield wiper, top off fluids, and help me remove bumper sticker residue (insisting on using his sample of Goo Gone Automotive rather than me buying a bottle).

I am always surprised how many Westporters don’t know about Cooper’s, considering how long they’ve been serving Westporters. Thank you for considering this.

Consider it done. Cooper’s Auto Parts: You’re our Unsung Heroes of the Week!

Parker Harding Garbage: The Sequel

This morning’s post –showing garbage where the dumpster once sat in Parker Harding Plaza, just a few yards away from the finally-working compactor — drew plenty of comments from readers.

And this email from Scott Martin:

I own the Rye Ridge Deli. Someone sent me the pic of the garbage by the compactors.

That is a mix of garbage from various tenants there. A couple of those boxes are ours: the bacon, avocados and Rockland bakery.

I just spoke to a number of my employees who take garbage out at night and during the day. Last night, the compactors were completely filled and overflowing. Everything was stuffed in them to the top. They would not compact any more.

The mess this morning. The dumpster — across from the compactors — is no longer there.

Maybe they were a day late picking up due to the holiday. We are not sure. But when they come to remove the compactors it seems they cannot drive away with them overflowing so they knock it out, and when they return from the dump or wherever they take the trash they fill it back with what was knocked out.

There have been many occasions since the compactors have been installed with them not functioning at all. I guess the kinks are being worked out back there.

Going forward my guys have been instructed to let myself or a manager know when there is this sort of mess back there. Rather then leaving it for someone else to find, we can call City Carting to address it or figure out a better way rather than leaving that mess.

Those compactors are great, better than regular dumpsters, as long as they work (which is not always the case). I have been dealing with them for years in my other locations.

I just got off the phone with Scott. He apologizes for his guys leaving a mess. Nice to know he contacted “06880” to take responsibility.

As he notes though, only a small portion of the garbage is his. The hunt continues.

Friday Flashback #129

Last week’s Friday Flashback — showing a snowy Post Road sidewalk from 1993, with the Fine Arts Theatre prominently featured — sent alert “06880” reader/ amateur historian Fred Cantor scurrying down the internet wormhole.

He found Cinema Treasures, a website devoted to 51,000 movie theaters from around the world. (“Because you’re tired of watching movies on your laptop,” the tagline says.)

There’s a page devoted to “Fine Arts 1 and 2” — though the photos show only the original theatre (now Restoration Hardware), long before it was subdivided into a pair of cinemas. (Later offspring included Fine Arts 3 in the back — now Matsu Sushi restaurant — and Fine Arts 4 down the block, across Bay Street from Design Within Reach.)

One image is from 1939. It shows the theatre entrance, flanked by an unnamed restaurant and Vogel Electrical Service.

Other photos show Fine Arts after a major 1940 renovation. Here’s the exterior. It looks like the neighboring businesses are gone.

Here’s the new, modern interior:

But the money shots are these 2. They show the Art Deco lounge.

Cinema Treasures is right. The Fine Arts was definitely better than watching movies on your laptop.

Give A Little Chocolate

Uh-oh.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and you forgot your chocolates.

You have 2 choices:

  1. Kiss your relationship goodbye.
  2. Head to Le Rouge by Aarti — and help not only yourself, but a good cause.

Since 2016 Aarti Khosla — the handmade chocolatier at 190 Main Street — has run a “Give a Little Love” campaign. She donates 10% of the proceeds from any heart-shaped creation to charity.

This year’s recipient is “She’s the First.” The organization — dear to Aarti’s, um, heart — empowers and helps educate young women who are the first in their family to go to college.

But Aarti is not stopping there. She just introduced a second campaign: “Give a Little Woof.”

Aarti designed a mini-heart box, with 3 hand-painted dark chocolate “bones.” A full 50% of sales goes to the Weston Dog Park. The initiative honors Brian Gordon, the town’s beloved 2nd selectman and 1987 Staples High School graduate, who died in November.

Give a Little Woof!

So what are you waiting for?

Well, actually, you’ve still got a couple of hours. Le Rouge opens at 11 a.m.

Main Street’s Loss: The Brownstone Is Closing

For 12 years, shoppers have found great gifts — for Valentine’s Day, Mothers Day, birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and every other type of celebration — at The Brownstone.

The warm, cozy 2nd-floor space at 142 Main Street — just past Brooks Corner — has flourished as a customer-centered, locally owned and very fun place.

It has not been easy. The Brownstone weathered one recession, two major storms (Irene and Sandy), and one move (up the street).

The Brownstone is on the 2nd floor of the building at right. (Photo/Terry Stangl)

Owners Celeste, Mariana and Victoria have always operated by consensus. Now — as Victoria retires, and moves to California — they’ve made their most difficult decision ever.

In mid-March, they’re closing.

“We’ve had the best time building relationships with you!” the owners say in their announcement.

“We felt fortunate every time you chose us to help find the right accessory or gift for you, your home or loved one. We know you had many shopping options.”

Their decision — to “say farewell to our beloved customers” — was not easy.

“Our hearts are broken. But new adventures call our names.”

Owners Victoria Schallert and Mariana Hurtado at holiday time.

The owners — classy as always — thank their landlord, the Teuscher family. “They have shown us every kindness. They have rooted for us in every possible way. They are as sad as we are about our boutique’s closure.”

As they wind down their inventory, The Brownstone continues to serve Westport. Their closing sale has begun. It includes new spring arrivals, and many hard-to-find jewelry designs.

“Please drop by to say goodbye before mid-March,” the owners say. “We hold many, many happy and special memories of you, our customers, in our hearts. We send you all our love, and our very best wishes.”

Happy Galentine’s Day!

Everyone knows Thursday is Valentine’s Day.*

Some people know that the day before — Wednesday, February 13 — is Galentine’s Day. (The spinoff from a 2010 “Parks and Recreation” TV show has since become a day for “ladies celebrating ladies.”**)

To help women celebrate their always-there-for-you friends — and honor all the special friends she’s made during more than 15 years in Westport — Bonnie Marcus is throwing an open house at her private design studio.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, she’s giving away beautiful, personally created Valentine’s (and Galentine’s) Day cards — plus custom-designed chocolates and sparkling lemonade.

A few of Bonnie Marcus’ many cards.

It’s a perfect way to pick up something for a friend who needs a pick-me-up (particularly if she does not have a Valentine).

The Bonnie Marcus Collection is at 5 Riverside Avenue. Look for the pink and red balloons next to Arezzo restaurant.

And if you don’t, this is your warning. Stop reading immediately, and buy flowers AND chocolate.

** Don’t believe me? It’s right there on Wikipedia.

Rami Takes Over For Tommy

When Tommy Ghianuly died last month, longtime customers wondered about the future of Compo Center Barber Shop.

And they were concerned for Tommy’s longtime and well-respected employees,  Felice and Chau.

Not to worry. The 60-year-old business has a new owner. He’s a noted barber himself. He knows the Westport shop well. And he’s committed to keeping it going, without losing a step.

Today was the first day at work for Rami Pirov. But he’s no stranger to the narrow, photo-lined place nestled between Planet Pizza and CVS.

Rami Pirov, at the Compo Center Barber Shop today.

Twenty-five years ago Rami — a barber since age 12 — arrived in the US from his native Uzbekistan. He worked in Long Island and Manhattan. On the Upper East Side he cut the hair of famous athletes like Jorge Posada, Charlie Hayes, Tino Martinez and Mike Piazza.

Ten years ago, Rami started searching for a great barber shop to buy. People recommended Compo Center. He came to Westport, and liked everything about it: the location, clientele and vibe.

It was not for sale. But Rami gave Tommy his number, in case he ever wanted to retire or sell.

Two years ago, Rami called again. Tommy was recovering from surgery. His wife Carolyn saved the letter.

Recently, she gave it to Steve Siegelaub. He’s a real estate lawyer with Berkowitz, Trager & Trager — and, like Dick Berkowitz, a longtime loyal customer and friend of Tommy’s.

Carolyn wanted to make sure that Felice and Chau could keep working. She was glad the barber shop’s legacy could continue — for its customers, and the town.

Felice (left) and Chau (rear), continuing work at Compo Barbers.

The deal closed yesterday. Rami was at work today, as owner/operator. He’ll be open 7 days a week.

Right now, Rami — who is married, and has 4 sons — commutes from Queens. As soon as he can, he’ll move to Connecticut.

In the meantime, he welcomes customers: old and new.

Just like Tommy did.

“Thanks For Supporting Tommy”: Carolyn Ghianuly

When Tommy Ghianuly — the Compo Center Barber Shop owner — died last month, generations of Westporters mourned. His wife Carolyn writes:

The outpouring of love for my man was just incredible. All the people who came to pay their last respects, the cards and letters (not just locally but from people who have moved away, but still had such love and admiration for him) blows me away.

I hope when this deep and awful grief eases for me that I can find comfort in  how much happiness he gave to so many people.

Please post for me my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all his many friends, who loved him during all his years in Westport. He loved them back equally.

The Compo Barber Shop will continue to serve all its loyal customers in the same fashion as always. Tommy will be there in spirit.

Thanks again to all who supported him over his almost 60 years in business.

Tommy Ghianuly