Category Archives: Restaurants

Pic Of The Day #2108

View from the Original Pancake House (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Roundup: Marigny, Downtown, Jazz …

Westport’s longtime sister city of Marigny-le-Lozon, France, has officially joined us in support of our new sister city: Lyman, Ukraine.

In his annual January address to the town, Marigny mayor Fabrice Lemazurier said that — with the full support of their Town Council — they will direct aid to Lyman children impacted physically and emotionally by the war.

The project will involve Marigny students, and their parents.

Our connection with Marigny grew out of World War II. Two Westporters who served in the Normandy town encouraged residents here to send food, clothes, Christmas gifts and more.

Marigny never forgot Westport. Now, our 2 towns join together to aid a third.

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

Westport’s downtown revitalization project is one step closer to reality.

Yesterday morning, the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee approved the design concept. Next up: cost estimates, and advisory and funding body approvals.

Click here for more information about the plan.

This screenshot from the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee shows the Parker Harding lot, and its proximity to the Saugatuck River.

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

Want to raise your tech skills? Or just get some basic ones?

The Westport Library’s “Anyone Can Use…” classes offer free in-person instruction. The next 2:

  • February 1: Foundation Center Professional Database (registration required; click here)
  • February 15: Social Media for Marketing (registration required; click here).

Both classes are 11 a.m. to noon.

For more tech instruction, click here for the LinkedIn Learning database. It  offers over 16,000 professionally produced courses in 7 languages — everything from tip-of-the-spear technologies to basic computer literacy and photography.

Questions? Email ref@westportlibrary.org.

Technology is not just for kids!

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

Staples High School alumni do some very cool and creative work.

On January 31 (6:30 p.m., Zoom), they’ll share their journeys.

It’s part of the career exploration “Spark Your Future” series, sponsored by the Staples Counseling Department and Westport Library.

But anyone with an internet connection is invited to watch.

Panelists nclude:

  • Max Samuels (Staples Class of 2011): stage, screen and voice actor based in New York.
  • Jacqueline Devine (Staples ’13): co-owner of The Soze Agency, specializing in social impact campaigns.
  • Noah Johnson (SHS ’14): visual designer at Fjord, an innovation consultancy.
  • Trevor Williams (SHS ’18): animation supervisor at Steamroller Studios.

They’ll discuss their journeys, including the ups, downs and detours that brought them where they are today. Click here to register for the webinar.

In Staples Players, Max Samuels (with Eva Hendricks) appeared in “Brighton Beach.” (Photo by Kerry Long)

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

Speaking of Staples:

The Music Department’s always popular “Jazz and Java” concert is set for this Thursday (January 26, 7 p.m., cafeteria).

Five high school and Bedford Middle School groups are featured, including the award winning combos and Staples Jazz Ensemble.

It’s free — and light refreshments will be served.

Last year’s jazz concert, in the Staples cafeteria.

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

Club 203 — the area’s very cool social club for adults with disabilities — celebrates Valentine’s Day early.

A celebration dance is set for February 2 (7 to 8:30 p.m., Westport Country Playhouse).

The club’s own DJ Joe returns. Planet Pizza provides heart-shaped pies. And everyone is invited to “dress for the dance.”

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

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

The Westport transfer station has installed a new configuration, including scales on the right side for trucks.

To learn more about Westport’s unofficial community center — the place where everyone sees everyone else — click here.

Westport transfer station. (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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

Today is National Granola Bar Day. (I know: Who knew?)

To celebrate, The Granola Bar offers a free almond butter chocolate chunk bar with any purchase of $10 or more (while supplies last).

Stop by, or click here to order online for pickup or delivery.

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

TAP Strength sponsors a “deeply restorative and healing night of yoga and singing bowls” on February 1 (6 p.m., 180 Post Road East).

The evening combines stretching, sound and Reiki healing, and essential oil aroma therapy.

Call 203-292-9353,  or email nancy@tapstrength.com for more information.

 

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

If you’re an Alan Fiore fan — and who isn’t? — click here for the latest release from the Staples High School Class of 2021 grad. He’s now at the Berklee College of Music.

Alan Fiore

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

Westport resident Lois Ann Crawford died Wednesday at Norwalk Hospital. She was 90.

Born in Cross Creek Township, Ohio in 1932, she graduated from The Ohio State University. Lois taught school in Downey, California; Mather Air Force Base, Sacramento; Greensburg, Indiana and Englewood, Ohio.

She lived in California, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut, following her husband’s career moves. She married Otis L. Crawford in Nevada, while he was in the US Air Force.

Lois was an active member of the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston, where she was an offering steward for many years. She was an active tennis player, golfer and bridge player. Lois also ran the Komen golf charity event for the 9-hole women’s golf group at Longshore.

Survivors in addition to her husband include her daughters Jean Crawford and Laura Provencal, 4 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter. She was pre deceased by her son Gregory Crawford.

Services will be private. Click here to leave online condolences.

Lois Crawford

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

Dick Lowenstein spotted these 2 dozen-plus birds — “most likely carrion-eating black vultures,” he says — in a tree in his Greens Farms back yard. They make an intriguing “Westport … Naturally” photo.

Small birds are not bothered, though. They continued to feast at his bird feeder.

(Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

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

And finally … Westport offers thanks to Marigny. Our sister city in France has officially joined our efforts to help another sister city: Lyman, Ukraine.

So, in the spirit of siblings, we offer:

(We hope you enjoy our daily Roundup. It takes a lot of work! Please click here to support this blog. Thank you!)

Roundup: RTM’s Saugatuck Vote, Josh Koskoff & Alex Jones …

By an overwhelming majority last night, the Representative Town Meeting affirmed the Planning & Zoning Commission’s recent decisions to allow text and map amendments in Saugatuck.

There were 33 RTM members in favor, 1 against (Sal Liccione) and 1 abstention (Matthew Mandell). The vote — following similar margins in the RTM’s Transit and Planning & Zoning Committees — means that planning can proceed for the Hamlet at Saugatuck.

That project could bring new retail, restaurants, residences, and a hotel and marina to the area near the train station.

The RTM vote was required, based on a petition from voters. Twenty-four members had to vote to overturn the P&Z decision — but only 1 did.

Next up: A site plan for the Hamlet project, and approval from the P&Z.

Artists’ rendering of an interior courtyard of The Hamlet at Saugatuck.

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

What’s the newest hot place in town for teenagers?

The Westport Library.

It’s been filled all week long, with Staples High School students studying for midterms.

The Trefz Forum — and the rest of the building — has been a place where friends can work together, but where others can find space to be alone. It’s serious, but also social — perfect for teens’ needs.

The other night, library officials surprised the students with 25 pizzas.

They were gone quicker than you could say “good luck with exams!”

Where do Westport teenagers head at night? The Westport Library. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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

Speaking of the Westport Library: The Trefz Forum will be packed tomorrow morning too (Thursday, January 19, 10 a.m.).

Local attorney (and Staples High graduate) Josh Koskoff will discuss his latest victory: the largest verdict in history in a defamation suit. Koskoff led the case against Alex Jones, who used his Infowars website and daily radio show to present counter-factual information about issues including the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Koskoff’s talk will also be livestreamed. Click here for the link.

The event is co-sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

Josh Koskoff

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

Speaking still of the Library:

It was packed in November, for the Board of Education’s first “Community Conversation.”

Plenty of topics were discussed — but others, like challenges to books in the high school library, and diversity, equity and inclusion planning — did not have time for exploration.

A second open discussion — picking up where last fall’s left off — is set for next Tuesday (January 24, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Westport Library). All residents are invited, for a “back-and-forth exchange) with Board of Education members, and school administrators.

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

Spiga is a popular New Canaan restaurant, specializing in handmade pasta, brick oven pizza and other Italian fare.

Soon, they’ll add a Westport location. They’re replacing Tarry Lodge on Charles Street. The target date for opening is late March.

It’s one more Italian business in a line that began with Esposito’s gas station, and continued through Abbondanza. (Hat tip: Maria Funicello)

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

Speaking of Saugatuck: Mackenzie Winner Berman has a question that’s on the minds of many other Westporters. She writes:

“On Saugatuck Avenue, roughly across the street from the old Westport Chinese/ new Lomito restaurant, is a home with a small storefront on street level.

“The home is being renovated. I assumed the storefront would go, but recently it has been improved with new windows, among other things.

“Does anyone know the plans for that space? It has always interested me. Every time I drive by, I try to imagine what sort of activity used to take to place there.”

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

Sacred Heart University’s beautiful new Martire Family Arena is drawing raves. And fans.

Those spectators are helping the Pioneers’ men’s ice hockey program raise funds for great causes.

The January 21 game (7 p.m., vs. Holy Cross) will benefit the Chad Jacobs Hockey Foundation — run by Westporter Karen Jacobs — and the CT Hockey Foundation. The Jacobs fund was a major supporter of education for Charlie and Will Capalbo, grandsons of Westport writer Ina Chadwick. Charlie fought a long, courageous battle against several cancers.

A February 4 game (7 p.m., vs. American International) for CapalboStrong will benefit Dana Farber Cancer Institute, specifically pediatric research. That date is the anniversary of Charlie’s life-saving bone marrow transplant from his brother Will, in 2019.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)

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

The bad news: There was plenty of trash at the I-95 Exit 18 commuter parking lot on the Sherwood Island Connector.

The good news: A crew of dedicated Westporters picked it up last weekend.

The bad news: There will always be more garbage in need of collection.

To find out what’s next for our civic-minded citizens — and help — email Andrew Colabella: acolabellartm4@gmail.com.

Town employees haul away the trash collected at the commuter parking lot. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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

“Surface Alchemy” — a new exhibition featuring Donald Martiny and Stuart Disston — opens this Saturday (January 21; reception from 5 to 7 p.m.) at Amy Simon Fine Art (123 Post Road East).

The exhibit runs through February 25.

“The Picnic” — Acrylics, encaustic and photo transfer on canvas mounted on panel (Stuart Disston)

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

You can teach an old dog new tricks. Or — in the case of Bobo — a new dog can enjoy old tricks.

Either way, here’s today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, from (naturally) Compo Beach:

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)

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

And finally … today is the birthday of David Ruffin.

One of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964-68, and later a solo star, was born on this date in 1941. He died in 1991, from an accidental overdose of crack cocaine.

(“06880” ain’t too proud to beg. Please support your hyper-local blog! Just click here — and thank you!)

Fatto A Mano: Italian Baker With A Twist

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Or — if you’re Pierluigi Mazzella — make sourdough bread, focaccia, panettone, biscotti and pastries.

That’s the life he knows. Pierluigi began baking as a 12-year-old, on his native island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples.

He apprenticed with a world competition winner, then came to the US. He worked hard at bakeries in Darien and New Haven (where, at Atticus, he became the lead bread baker).

He married a woman from Connecticut. They moved in with her family, in Monroe.

When the pandemic struck, neighbors wanted fresh food. Pierluigi began baking once a week, in his in-laws’ basement.

Pierluigi Mazzella, baking in his basement.

Customers loved his goods. They asked for more.

He took a risk. Pierluigi quit his job, to bake full-time. Working at his tiny oven — as a permitted Connecticut Cottage Food operation — he sold his items at farmers’ markets in Westport, Monroe and Trumbull.

He named his business Fatto a Mano (“Made by Hand”). Italian ex-pats — especially those from Ischia, many of whom live in the Norwalk  area — told Pierluigi that his food brought them instantly back to their childhood.

Others — many of whom had never tried some of his creations — became fans after their first bites. He uses fresh, natural ingredients, creating products full of flavor and personality.

Last year, Connecticut Magazine named the 28-year-old to their “40 Under 40” list. They wrote:

To make the wildly popular panettone … Mazzella sleeps at most 4 hours a night. His panettone eats like a sweet cloud, a dreamlike and addictive creation. Although a loaf stays fresh for weeks, it rarely survives a day before it gets devoured….

He never stops researching and honing his craft in the pursuit of an even better product. His energy and positivity are infectious.

Pierluigi Mazzella, with his panettone.

Pierluigi earned another honor last year too: Baker of the Year, from the Connecticut Restaurant Association.

That was especially meaningful. The other nominees were from real, brick-and-mortar bakeries. Pierluigi still worked with basic equipment, in his in-laws’ basement.

That may soon change.

For a year, Pierluigi searched for commercial kitchen space in Westport. Most of his customers are here. They assured him he could find plenty of opportunities, with a kitchen of his own.

In December, Manna Toast closed. Its kitchen — behind Cycle Dynamics, on Post Road East — was available.

This month, he took over the lease.

The space is shared with Pop-up Bagels. Like that other baker, he has no storefront. He loads his van with his food, and meets customers at other sites.

Pierluigi Mazzella, outside his new space.

It’s a perfect spot. Pierluigi bakes fresh sourdough, authentic breakfast pastries, focaccia, traditional biscotti, and his mouth-watering panettone — the sweet bread and fruitcake traditionally associated with Christmas — all year long.

He can bake much more, too. He can sell to local restaurants. He can cater. He can offer baking classes.

Investors have helped customize the space to his needs. Now Pierluigi needs just $25,000. That’s the cost of key items, including a deck oven and mixer.

“Many people don’t realize how difficult and expensive opening a food business is,” he says.

But Pierluigi has created a community that loves, appreciates and supports him.

They’ve already contributed over $10,000 to his Kickstarter appeal. He has less than $15,000 to go to reach his $25,000 goal — and 3 weeks to get there.

Donors’ pledges will be good only if the project is fully funded by February 10. (Click here for more information, and to help.)

Contributors at various levels receive “grazie” rewards, ranging from free food and cooking classes, to a catered meal.

Pierluigi Mazzella’s baked goods.

Pierluigi hopes to be fully operational by Easter. That’s an important holiday for any Italian baker.

Just think of all the pastries, biscotti, panettone and more he could make for you then!

(Hat tipi: Louisa D’Amore)

Question Box #9

Our Question Box is not quite full. But now is as good a time as any to empty it.

Unfortunately, I have almost none of the answers to “06880” queries. I thought I knew a lot about Westport. Now I see how clueless I am.

So readers: Please chime in with any additional information. Click “Comments” below.

If you’ve got a question for our box, email 06880blog@gmail.com.

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

Why is cell service so bad at Staples High School, Coleytown Middle School and the beach? (Mark Lassoff)

That’s a technical question, far beyond my pay grade. But it sure is a vexing one.

We can send a telescope into the vast reaches of space. We can (with a bit of work) elect a speaker of the House of Representatives.

But we can’t figure out a reliable way to connect the internet to some of the most popular places in a well-populated, well-wired town?

Can you hear me now?

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

In a similar vein, a reader moving to Westport asks for the best broadband provider: Frontier? Optimum? Someone else?

I’ll leave that to readers too. Please be specific — don’t just say “they both suck.”

At least today’s providers are faster than this.

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

What’s up with the line of cars parked on the Birchwood Country Club side of Riverside Avenue (near Rive Bistro and the medical offices) every day? I can’t believe they’re parking for the train, or any of the nearby office parks. (Bob Mitchell)

I’ve wondered about that for years. As best I know, the cars belong to Westport Auto Craft, the highly regarded body shop. Apparently they get moved there from in front of and behind the building during the day, to make room for those being worked on.

However, few of them ever look wrecked. And I’ve never seen anyone actually moving one of the vehicles back and forth.

Riverside-area readers: If there’s a different or better answer, please let us know.

Riverside Avenue mystery.

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

Why is the medical complex at Kings Highway North and Wilton Road called Fort Apache? (Arthur Hayes)

Hey! I (sort of) know this!

When it was built in the 1960s, its fencepost-like architecture reminded people of a Wild West outpost.

It was a daring — and controversial — look, for what was then primarily pediatric and general practitioner offices.

Today, there are many more controversial buildings around town. “Fort Apache” blends into the scenery.

Fort Apache (aka 125-131 Kings Highway North).

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

What is your favorite Westport restaurant right now? And what’s your favorite one that’s gone? (Anonymous)

You’re kidding, right? Do you think I’d tackle this hornet’s nest alone?

Westport has a robust dining scene right now. Readers: Click “Comments” to let us know your favorites — and why.

As for long-gone: I’m not sure. But I sure wouldn’t mind traveling back in time for burgers from Chubby Lane’s and Big Top, or meatballs (and the ambiance) at the Arrow.

One of my many go-to Westport restaurants.

(“06880” answers questions — and provokes conversations. If you’re part of our online community, please support our work. Click here to contribute.)

Roundup: Original Pancakes, Orphenians …

Tuesday night’s Staples High School boys basketball game was filled with drama.

The Wreckers won a 68-67 overtime nail-biter over New Canaan.

But that wasn’t the half of it.

Halftime included a chance for a young player named Trey got a chance to hit a 3-point shot. The prize: a free session at the new Academy basketball camp.

How did the aptly named Trey do? Click here!
=============================================

News 12 Connecticut is working on a story about the 1989 Joan Wertkin cold case murder.

They want to speak with anyone who knew Joan, the family, or has information on the case. Even a small piece of information might help produce a clearer understanding of the events leading up to the killing.

Contact Emmy-winning investigative reporter Shosh Bedrosian: shoshana.bedrosian@news12.com; 475-283-5188.

Joan Wertkin

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

The Original Pancake House has — finally — opened in the Main Street space where Acqua used to be.

Nina Sankovitch reports: “The first restaurant I ever went to was one of these.  The German apple pancake is as good as ever!”

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

In preparation for their June trip to Hawaii, Staples’ Orphenians are hosting an “Aloha Cabaret.” The January 22 event (6:30 p.m., Westport Library) features Tony Award winner (and Westporter) Kelli O’Hara; the Orphenians (of course),, and as emcee, the incomparable David Pogue.

There are also Hawaiian-themed light bites, and an exciting silent auction. Fundraising will ensure that all 42 members can make the trip.

Orphenians — the elite singing group — have traveled across the US, and internationally, since shortly after their founding in 1958. This will be the third trip for conductor Luke Rosenberg.

Georgia Wrighth traveled with Orphenians to Australia in July 2018.

“It was one of the best experiences, with some of my best friends,” she recalls. “Some others I didn’t know too well. But we became so close on that trip.

“We were making music, and meeting people from all over the world who shared our passion. We sang for 8 hours a day, and learned so much working with a master composer.”

Georgia went on to earn a BFA in musical theater from the Boston Conservatory.

Three years earlier, Jack Baylis joined Orphenians on a trip to San Francisco. They worked with the famed Chanticleer choral group,

“It was one of my first exposures to high-level professionals,” Jack recalls. “They were so intense, but they showed us attainable goals.”

Jack appreciates the opportunities Orphenians had — and have now, again — to experience such a trip.

“Whether you pursue the arts as a career or not, this is a chance to impact your life,” Jack says. “In hindsight, I realize how important that is.”

Jack will perform with Kelli O’Hara at the Aloha Cabaret.

Tickets are $150 per person for general admission and $225 per person for VIP. For tickets and more information, click here.

Staples Orphenians

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

Last night, MoCA Westport’s opening reception introduced their winter exhibition. “Paul Camacho: Rhythm and Unity” features selected works primarily drawn from the Westport Public Art Collections. The exhibition is on view through February 26.

Simultaneously, the annual high school exhibition — Who Are You When You Are Dreaming — includes nearly 200 student works from across the region.
Docented gallery tours are available on Thursdays at 1 p.m. An associated Cocktails and Conversation series will be held on Thursday evenings, including a talk about Camacho, a curator talk, and a panel featuring local designers and entrepreneurs on fashion, art and design.
Click here for more information.

MoCA executive director Ruth Mannes and Westport Public Schools pre-K-12 music and visual arts coordinator Steve Zimmerman. (Photo/Leslie MaSala)

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

It doesn’t get more “Westport … Naturally” than this: Compo Beach, with Cockenoe Island in the distance.

(Photo/Richard Stein)

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

And finally … Happy Friday the 13th!

(It’s good luck to donate to “06880” on Friday the 13th — or any other day. Please click here to help. Thank you!)

Pic Of The Day #2096

Mexicue steps (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Roundup: Staples AD, Coffee Mugs, De TAPAS …

Staples High School will soon have a new athletic director.

Vincent J. “VJ” Sarullo succeeds Marty Lisevick on February 1. 

Sarullo has spent the past 17 years as athletic director at Jonathan Law High School in Milford. Before that he was AD at Sheehan High-Wallingford and Notre Dame of Fairfield.

Sarullo currently serves as president of the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors.

Lisevick retires on January 31, after more than 2 decades in the post. The other finalist for the position, Colin Devine, spent 15 years as Staples’ boys basketball coach.

VJ Sarullo, iin 2014.

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

With 3 Starbuckses, 3 Dunkin’ Donuts, and many more places to buy coffee, Westporters use plenty of cups.

We don’t have to.

Sustainable Westport has just launched “Refill Not Landfill.”

The program encourages residents to use reusable cups and mugs at participating coffee shops to reduce waste, combat climate change, and help support small businesses.

Most paper cups used for hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate are coated with plastic to prevent leaks, so they can’t be recycled. Plastic cups used for iced coffee, tea and other drinks, often end up in the trash. It is estimated that only 5% of plastic is ever recycled.

By committing to bring their own reusable mug or cup to participating locations, residents can help reduce waste — and be entered to win monthly prizes.

Beginning this Sunday (January 15), bring a clean, reusable cup or mug to a participating location. (NOTE: They do not wash cups or mugs.)

Order a drink that’s eligible to be filled (some, like smoothies, are not).

At checkout, scan a QR code. Submit your name and email address for each drink you purchased using a reusable cup, to receive credit for your visit.

To be eligible for the monthly raffle, you must participate at least 5 times within a month.

Each month through July 15, Sustainable Westport will draw one winner, for a prize from a local business.

Participating locations include:

To add your business, email emilyabate@gmail.com.

Don’t have a mug?Purchase a Sustainable Westport “Refill Not Landfill” travel mug Thursdays at the Westport Farmers’ Market, or the Earthplace gift shop.

For more information, click here. Questions? Email admin@sustainablewestport.org.

A familiar sight in Westport. But it doesn’t have to be.

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

Speaking of restaurants:

DeTAPAS celebrates its 1-year anniversary this weekend with a complimentary glass of Cava.

Carlos Pia’s Spanish gastrobar has become one of Westport’s hottest spots. A native of Barcelona, he’s brought the flavors of his native country here — and the culture and the colors too.

Pia’s Flamenco Nights, Jamon Jamoon Iberico and wine tasting, and other events have added to DeTAPAS’ allure.

Carlos Pia in his vibrantly decorated De Tapas.

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

Club 203 — Westport’s social group for adults with disabilities — held its January event at the Westport Weston Family YMCA on Saturday.

A huge turnout of enjoyed basketball, line dancing, stretching and yoga, crafts (hosted by MoCA Westport), a photo booth and snacks. Among the volunteers: Staples High School’s Service League of Boys (SLOBs).

The next event will is at the Westport Playhouse (February 2). It’s a Valentine’s dance — details soon.

Fun at Club 203.

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

Stressed-out parents, take note: S4 Study Skills is hosting a free webinar.

In “Why Course Selection is Important to the College Application Process” (January 17, 7 p.m.), college admissions counselor and Westport resident Amy Chatterjee explains what course selection reveals about motivation and focus, and how it impacts college admissions. Click here to register.

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

Jazz vespers comes to the United Methodist Church of Westport & Weston.

The service combines liturgical traditions with the soulful sounds of the John Collinge Quartet.

The worship — for all ages and denominations (and a great introduction to jazz for young audiences) is Sunday, January 22 (4 p.m., United Methodist Church sanctuary).

The United Methodist Church on Weston Road.

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

There weren’t many people the other day, at Compo Beach.

But the sun is there, regardless. Naturally.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image was captured by Bob Mitchell.

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)

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

And finally … Jeff Beck died yesterday of bacterial meningitis, in England. He was 78.

Though never as flashy or well-known as Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page, he was a member of the Yardbirds and other very important blues-based groups.

Westport has a couple of ties to the legendary guitarist. When the Yardbirds played at Staples High School in 1966, he was part of the band.

A young photographer in New York heard they would be in Westport. She came here, and photographed Beck and a very young Jimmy Page tuning up backstage, in the choral room.

The photographer’s name? Linda Eastman.

Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, in the Staples High School choral room. (Photo/Linda Eastman)

And the offices of Connoisseur Media in Westport — owner of some of the most successful radio stations in the area — contain plenty of music memorabilia.

One of the most prized possessions hangs on the wall by CEO Jeff Warshaw’s desk. It’s a guitar, signed by Beck.

On the wall in Jeff Warshaw’s office: a guitar signed by Jeff Beck. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Click here for a full obituary.

 

Compo Shopping Center: Behind The Reveal

Rick Hoag has always liked the “quirky, ’50s-’60s feel” of Compo Shopping Center.

So when his Frederick William Hoag Architects firm got the chance to redesign the façade of one of Westport’s first strip malls, he was eager to help.

The west (CVS, Planet Pizza) side was built in 1957. The east (Gold’s, Little Kitchen) portion followed shortly after.

Compo Shopping Center’s west (top) and east sides, before renovation.

It’s really, really long. It’s home to a diverse array of different-sized tenants. And regulatory challenges constricted the type of changes Hoag could do.

But he’s nothing if not resourceful.

“The existing architecture exudes a playful mid-century vibe with sweeping fascias and inclined façades, retro forms, and language to be celebrated within a contemporary architectural skin,” he says.

“The existing sloped cornice seems to put the whole building façade in motion, emulating the automobiles traveling the Post Road.”

That reminded him of “Norman Rockwell-like images of happy American families shopping. before whisking off in their Chris-Craft on Long Island Sound.”

Mid-20th century Chris-Craft.

That classic speedboat concept inspired his design.

The new west side …

By applying finishes as a rain screen, he and his firm maintained the existing weather tightness of the building.

… and the east.

LED lights are a 21st-century thing. But Hoag designed them in a way that, he says, embraces both the spirit of the retro façade, and the feel of today.

The result — with help from Bill Achilles, earlier in the process — is emerging now. A.V. Tuchy — the Norwalk builders doing the renovation — should be finished in March.

Then, the scaffolds will come down. The “new” Compo Shopping Center will sparkle by day, and shine by night.

Dusk view.

That may attract more shoppers and restaurant-goers than ever.

Drive safely!

(“06880” covers stories you never realized needed covering. Please click here to help us continue our work. Thank you!) 

Roundup: Tyler Hicks’ Lyman, Connecticut Mag’s 40 Under 40, Farmers’ Market’s Lectures …

As the year ends, Westporters look back on a tough one. COVID is still hanging around. The stock market plummeted. Our nation is politically divided.

Compared to Ukraine though, we live on Easy Street.

Our new sister city of Lyman is entering its 10th month of hell. The Russians are gone after 5 months of occupation. But they left devastation behind.

Buildings lack roofs and walls. There is virtually no electricity or heat. Fire trucks and police cars were demolished. Debris is everywhere.

You can click here to read the latest devastating news, from yesterday’s New York Times. (This news just in: Earlier today, a Russian missile hit the police station. Only 2 patrol cars are left in the town.)

You can see some brutal images too — taken, coincidentally, by Westport native/Staples High School graduate/Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Tyler Hicks.

A Lyman firefighter battles a blaze with just a trickle of water, in bitter cold. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

On this final day of 2022, please help Westport’s drive to help Lyman.

Our goal is $250,000. As of yesterday — less than 2 weeks after we began — we’ve raised $219,200. Wouldn’t it be great to reach our target today?

Tax-deductible donations can be made to Lyman through Ukraine Aid International — the non-profit co-founded by Westporter Brian Mayer. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

(Hat tips: Elisabeth Keane and Sharon Fiarman)

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

After Italian and Chinese food, what’s next?

Peruvian.

When blandly named but popular Westport Chinese Takeout closed in October, it left a void in Saugatuck.

That’s where — decades earlier — the original Arrow Restaurant began. (The name comes from the angle of the road, where Franklin Street meets Saugatuck Avenue.) When it outgrow that location, the Arrow moved around the corner to Charles Street.

Work has begun on Lomito. The windows are still papered over. But there are new steps, and a spiffy logo. Two signs promise: “Opening soon.”

(Photo/JD Dworkow)=======================================================

Connecticut Magazine is out with their annual “40 Under 40” list.

Among the 40 people under 40 years old who are “changing the game in Connecticut and beyond”: Westporters Drew Angus and Julia Marino.

The writeup on Angus — a 2007 Staples High School graduate — says:

Finding success as a musician is not easy, explains this Bridgeport-based and Westport-raised singer-songwriter. “In this business, behind all the accomplishments and successes are many more unsuccessful projects and ideas that just never quite worked out,” Angus says. “It takes a certain kind of drive and a sick love for things not working out to be successful in creative ventures like music.”

Fortunately for him and fans of music everywhere, Angus has that drive, as his easy-to-listen-to, melodic New Americana music propelled him to be a finalist on American Idol in 2016. He’s also shared the stage with Harry Styles and Nile Rogers on Saturday Night Live, as well as Pat Benatar, Ann Wilson of Heart, and Andrea Bocelli. He has also toured with Marc Broussard and last summer impressed his hometown music fans with a set at Sound on Sound festival in Bridgeport.

When asked what advice he has for aspiring songwriters, he urges artists to not over-revise their work. “Finish those songs and put them out,” he says. “There’s a point of diminishing returns when changing lyric, melody or mix on a song no longer makes it better but just different or actually worse. Sometimes version one is actually the magic take.”

Drew Angus

For Olympic silver medalist Marino, it reads:

Lots of notable folks can boast about throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for a Red Sox game at fabled Fenway Park, including slopestyle and Big Air snowboarder and Westport native Marino. But she also has bragging rights none of those others can touch. In 2016, Marino, then an 18-year-old World Cup newcomer, replaced an injured teammate to compete in the Polartec Big Air event held at Fenway Park … and won.

A hit at Fenway, she returned to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in 2017, and again for a Red Sox-Yankees game in August 2022. Eighteen was a good age for Marino, who that year also became the first woman to land a double in slopestyle competition, according to her U.S. Ski & Snowboard team bio, landing two in the same run, a cab double underflip and a double backflip. Marino is most famous, of course, for winning a silver medal in women’s slopestyle at the 2022 Beijing Olympics (slopestyle is snowboarding down a course filled with terrain-park features and obstacles like rails and jumps.)

Also a 2018 Olympian and a seven-time X Games medalist, Marino loves photography, making videos, and spending time outdoors with her family and dog.

Julia Marino, on the Olympic podium.

Click here for the full Connecticut Magazine “40 Under 40.”

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

The Westport Farmers’ Market: It’s not just for fresh produce anymore.

Well, everyone knows that. But here’s more proof, if anyone needs it:

Through January, the Market will host a 4-part lecture series, Thursdays at 1 p.m. at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center on Sylvan Lane.

Each presentation is 20 minutes, followed by a Q-and-A.

  • January 5: “Yoga is (Not) a 4-Letter Word: Demystifying the Practice” (Abbey Chase, owner, Abbey Chase Yoga)
  • January 12: “Muscle Activation, Neurological Inhibition, and Chronic Pain” (Dr. Andrew Crape)
  • January 19: “The Lymph” (Rev. Dr. Mark L. Heilshorn owner, Dharma Massage Therapy)
  • January 26: “Gut Healing and Anti-inflammatory Bonebroth Detox Soup” (Christine Beal Dunst, CEO and co-founder, Embody Wellness Company).

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

This photo is a bit of a mystery.

Matt Murray noticed all these shoes lined up at Old Mill Beach.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

There was no one nearby. No one swimming.

Who owns them? Why are they there?

Maybe it’s part of SyFy’s annual “Twilight Zone” marathon. The annual event — an homage to the show and its creator, former Westporter Rod Serling — began at 5 a.m. today. It runs through 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

Click here for the full schedule.  (In case you’re wondering: “A Stop at Willoughby” — the classic Westport-themed episode — airs Monday, at 5 p.m.)

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

Congratulations to Dr. Cindy Dunbar. The 1976 Staples High School graduate  was recently inducted into the National Academy of Medicine.

A Harvard graduate who specializes in hematology, she’s had an amazing career. Click here for an in-depth interview. (She begins with her youth in Westport — and her interest in music and theater. It continues to this day.)

Click here for a more scientifically oriented piece. (Hat tip: Ed Stalling)

Dr. Cindy Dunbar

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

It wouldn’t be a holiday without a photo of Jolantha.

Weston’s favorite pig welcomes the new year in (as always) style:

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

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

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image combines a favorite subject (the beach) with a manmade-but-natural offering.

As the holidays wind down … enjoy!

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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

And finally … who needs Guy Lombardo (or Dan Fogelberg), when we’ve got Mariah Carey?!

 (The year is not yet over! You’ve still got a few hours to support “06880” — and, because we’re a non-profit, take a tax write-off. Please click here. Thank you!)