Category Archives: Restaurants

Roundup: Porch Party, Post Road Fawns, Bicycle For 2 …

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In less than 2 months of operation, The Porch @ Christie’s has become an iconic part of Westport.

Besides a great breakfast-lunch-and-dinner menu, excellent coffee and a popular ice cream stand, there are sweeeeet baked goods from Sweet P Bakery.

That’s the business that Porch owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello started 2 years ago. They instruct and employ 6 bakers — all with disabilities — along with 3 professional chefs.

Yesterday, the Pecoriellos hosted a party (appropriately, on the Porch’s porch) for the Sweet P staff. Some had never seen the place where so many customers love the products they make.

Hetty Marion said “I love this! It’s such a nice atmosphere.” Autumn Perry looked forward to watching people try her creations.

In case you’re wondering what to order: Autumn’s favorite is chocolate chip cookies. Hetty favors Whoopie Pies.

Autumn Perry (left) and Hetty Marion, at yesterday’s party with Porch owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello.

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Tomorrow (Sunday, July 25, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) marks Wakeman Town Farm’s first Sustainable Goods Eco Market.

Local vendors and artisans will be selling handwoven baskets and housewares; honey; handmade soaps, body butter and essential oils; skin and hair products for teens; candles; bags; clothing; honey and more.

There’s breakfast from The Granola Bar truck, and ice cream cones from Saugatuck Sweets too.

While adults shop green, youngsters can work on fun projects with WTF director of education Chryse Terrill, or visit with the animals. Expert Judy Panzer will answer animal questions for curious young minds.

Everyone can enjoy music by saxophonist Bobby Master, classical guitarist Jesse Balcom, steel pan and marimba player, and string quartet Vision Academy.

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Westport Animal Control and the Westport Police Department want you to know: 2 fawns have hunkered down in the grassy Post Road median in front of Splash Car Wash.

The mother thinks this is a safe spot for her little ones. Animal Control Officer Peter Reid asks people to not approach them — and when driving by, slow down!

Fawns in the median.

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SA couple considering a moving to Westport from New York would love to take the train here, and explore our town by bike.

They asked “06880” about rentals near the station. I don’t think there’s any such thing (though it might not be a bad sideline for a nearby business).

So how about it, “06880” readers: If there are no bike rentals around, does someone have a pair to lend? Maybe meet them at the station, give some tips (or even ride with them)? Or drop bikes off there, with combination locks?

Sure, it’s a long shot. But it’s also one way to help show off our amazing town — and the great people who live here.

I don’t think this is the type of bike ride our guests are looking for.

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The Hamptons? Cape Cod? LA?

Nope. The too-familiar scene yesterday afternoon, on Bridge Street:

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

And, reports Patricia McMahon, it took her 20 minutes on South Compo to get to this mess. And a total of 64 minutes to get from the beach to the light by Bridge Square.

Part of the reason may have been an accident south of I-95 exit 19, which shut all 3 lanes for an hour. But that was a few miles away.

Yikes.

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On Thursday, State Senators Will Haskell and Tony Hwang were recognized for their bipartisan effort to pass SB 954. The bill will improve college safety, and is seen as a template for federal legislation, sponsored by Congressman Jim Himes. The goal is to increase transparency around college accidents and deaths in all US colleges.

The initiative comes from College911.net, an all-volunteer organization founded in the memory of Corey Hausman. The 2018 Staples High School graduate died from what started as a preventable accident on his college campus just 15 days into his freshman year. Corey’s was the third student death since the start of that semester.

Senators Will Haskell and Tony Hwang hold certificates presented by College 911.net. Also pictured: members of the 911 Young Adult Advisory Board (Brendan Carney, Rushil Marallapu, Kate Smith and William Bean), members of Corey Hausman’s family (Joel, Nanette and Lucas), and Jeff Mitchell, an ardent supporter.

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Blood donations are still down, compared to pre-COVID times.

The Red Cross is holding a blood drive this Thursday (July 29, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 (465 Riverside Avenue).

The VFW is holding an open house the same day, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399.

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A large crowd filled Bedford Hall last night, for the Westport Woman’s Club annual “Sip and Savor” fundraiser.

Proceeds from ticket and wine sales benefit the organization’s many philanthropic and scholarship initiatives.

“It’s so nice to go out again,” one attendee said.

“Especially where there’s wine,” her friend agreed.

One of the 4 tasting stations at the Westport Woman’s Club “Sip & Savor” event. Wines came from around the world.

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The grounds of the Westport Weston Family YMCA always look gorgeous, thanks to Tony Palmer Landscaping.

Yesterday they were especially attractive. The Westport Garden Club chose the Mahackeno site for its annual #FridayFlowers display. They were created by Janet Wolgast, with help from new Y CEO Anjali McCormick.

One more reason to smile before — and after — your workout.

(Photo/Ed Simek)

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Andrew O’Brien spotted this recently at Compo Beach:

(Photo/Andrew O’Brien)

“We have many different points of view here in Westport,” he says. “But I can’t figure out where this individual stands.”

I don’t know either. But it’s clear where he sits: In the driver’s seat, without a real good look through his rear view mirror.

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Longtime Westport resident Vivian Doak of Spring, Texas, died peacefully at home, surrounded by her immediate family, last Saturday. She was 91 years.

The oldest of 5 children, Vivian graduated from high school in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. After secretarial school in New York, she held various positions. In 1952 she married Malcolm Robert Doak, an Air Force pilot. Following stints in Memphis, Japan, Long Island and Poughkeepsie, the couple settled in Westport in 1964, where they raised their family. In 2009 Vivian and her husband retired to Lake Conroe, Texas, and finally settled in Spring, Texas, at The Village at Gleannloch Farms.

While in Westport Vivian was a mother, housewife, business professional and real estate agent. She served many roles, from Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader to PTA organizer; from church deacon to leading the local Women’s Council of Realtors.

Vivian enjoyed traveling the world with her corporate pilot husband, as well as cultural jaunts with her children. The Doak home was a welcoming place for neighborhood kids, and a great environment for their children’s friends to hang out, be fed delicious meals, and be appreciated. Many still recall her warm smile and generous laugh.

Vivian possessed an ambitious, artistic talent that influenced everything she did. She was an excellent cook and skilled seamstress, skills she passed on to her children, grandchildren and beyond.

She enjoyed dancing, and studied tap and other forms. A painter from early on, she later enjoyed the hands-on hard work of building, refinishing and reupholstering furniture. She brought a creative eye to numerous heirloom quilts made for family members.

Vivian reveled in leading her grandchildren in holiday crafts, and created hand-painted curios for her children and their families. She also mastered a host of magic tricks, and juggled to entertain her grandchildren.

In retirement Doak mastered the art of theorem painting, studying at the Fletcher Farm School for the Arts in Vermont. While a member of the Wilton Presbyterian Church, Vivian designed and oversaw the construction of their on-site Memorial Garden.

Vivian will be remembered for her kindness, patience, loving manner, infectious laugh and bright smile, and as the matriarch of a strong, loving vital family.

Vivian is survived by her husband Malcolm and their 5 children: Kathi Doak of New York City; Lisa Lyne (James) of Spring, Texas; Ivy Doak (Timothy Montler) of Denton, Texas; Robin Neyrey of Spring TX, and Malcolm (Carole Ann) of Kirby, Vermont; 7 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, and sister Marjorie Schoneboom of Long Island.

A memorial service was held at The Village at Gleannloch Farms. The family is appreciative of everyone there.

Vivian Doak

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Great blue herons are skittish — and very hard to photograph. Yet John Kantor captured this “Westport … Naturally” scene beautifully, at Sherwood Mill Pond.

(Photo/John Kantor)

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And finally … our “06880” plea for bicycle help (above) led of course to this song. I bet the couple wants to explore Westport on individual bikes. But just in case they don’t …

 

Food Trucks Feast On Uneven Playing Field

Most Westporters are familiar with Joey’s by the Shore — the great deli/burger/ice cream spot that replaced Elvira’s near Old Mill Beach — and Hook’d, the Compo concessionaire that has taken over from (yes) Joey’s.

We’re familiar too with trucks that serve coffee and snacks to construction crews, along with fuller-service food trucks, and others specializing in ice cream.

An “06880” reader was thinking about all of that the other day. He put 2 + 2 together.

It did not compute.

He watched in surprise as a truck parked, blocking Joey’s few parking spaces on Compo Hill. A customer who had been about to enter the store turned, and ordered instead from the truck.

It wasn’t just market supply and demand, the “06880” reader realized. It’s that the market playing field is not level.

A hard-working businessman. But not a direct taxpayer in town.

Joey’s owners pay property taxes. Joey pays rent. Hook’d has an expensive contract with the town.

Food truck owners are supposed to pay $35, for an annual Westport Weston Health District license. They are not allowed to operate on town-owned property (including Compo Beach or Soundview Drive, Longshore, Little League fields, and at or near functions like Slice of Saugatuck and the Yankee Doodle Fair).

Food trucks may also not operate “on the main traveled portion of any public roadway, interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic, or remain stationary for an extended period of time.”

Of course, they do.

Food trucks — including the popular Good Humor man — are supposed to be prohibited from selling on Soundview Drive.

Intrigued by the “06880” reader’s email, I asked the WWHD how many food trucks are actually licensed by the town.

There are 11: Alene’s Ice Cream, Alley Kat Pizza, Aramark Business Dining, Bee’s Knees Ice Pops, Bubble & Brew,  Christopher’s Crepes, Parlor Wilton Pizza, Skip’s Ice Cream, Super Duper Weenie, The Granola Bar and Walrus & Carpenter.

Not a coffee truck among them.

Food trucks serve hungry construction workers, for sure. Their owners are hard workers, trying to make a living.

But owners of Joey’s and Hook’d — and other places around town, like the Porch @ Christie’s and The Country Store Deli on Wilton Road — must wonder: What would happen if I operated without a license or permit too?

Roundup: Waste; Kendig & Colbert; Golf, Tennis & Basketball …

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Don’t just talk the environmental talk. Walk it.

And learn how this Monday (July 26, 7 p.m., Wakeman Town Farm). A panel discussion on “Attainable Sustainable: Simple Steps to Reducing Wasteful Everyday Habits” will give you the tools you need to create meaningful change.

The even is moderated by State Senator Will Haskell. Participants include Peter Boyd (Yale School of the Environment), Haley Schulman (Food Rescue US), Brad Kerner (“public health expert turned low-waster”), and Andrew Colabella (Westport RTM and Environment Committee member).

Click here for tickets.

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Westpor’s Emmy-nominated list keeps growing.

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” senior producer — and 2000 Staples High School graduate — Paige Kendig was part of the show’s nomination for “Outstanding Variety Talk Series,” while its live election special is up for an Emmy as “Outstanding Variety Special.”

Paige joins several other local nominees. Soon there will be a category for “American Town With Most Emmys.”

“Late Show with Stephen Colbert” senior producer Paige Kendig and the show’s star, as they interviewed President-Elect Joe Biden in December.

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The Westport Police Department is good neighbors with their across-Jesup-Road friends, the Gillespie Center.

On July 31 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Stop & Shop), the department will hold a food drive for the Center, and its umbrella organization Homes with Hope.

Items needed include canned meats, tuna, salmon, Spam, pasta and sauces, chili, hot and cold cereal, canned fruit, canned and dry soups, peanut butter, jelly, mac & cheese, granola bars, pancake mix, syrup and mayonnaise

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Congratulations to Manna Toast.

The popular Church Lane restaurant — which opened last year in the middle of the pandemic — hosted an outdoor dinner the other day, to celebrate its 1st birthday.

One of the guests is a very loyal customer: 118 visits!

Manna Toast’s anniversary dinner.

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Connecticut’s Summer at the Museum program is great. Anyone 18 and under, plus an accompanying adult, visit participating museums free of charge through September 6.

Among those museums: MoCA Westport.

The summer exhibition, Élan Vital, features 11 artists working in a range of mediums, including painting, drawing, prints, sculpture, ceramics and site-specific installation work There are 2 other exhibits too: “Unfit for Print” and “Love Wins,” plus high school works in the Congressional Art Competition. Click here for details.

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Foursomes are still available for the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s fundraising golf tournament on August 2 (Aspetuck Valley Country Club, Weston).

There’s lunch at 11 a.m.; a shotgun start at noon, and a cocktail reception, dinner and awards at 4:30.

The event includes hole-in-one and putting contests, a $20 pro shop credit, gifts, prizes, and beverages.

Click here to register. Questions? Call 203-226-8981 ext. 104, or email bmarazzi@westporty.org.

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Speaking of sports: Congratulations to Tighe Brunetti of Staples High School. The rising senior — a member of the state champion Wreckers’ team — has been named USA Today’s state Boys  Tennis Player of the Year.

Tighe Brunetti

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Speaking still of sports: Yesterday’s “Roundup” gave a shoutout to Marc Lasry. The Westport hedge fund billionaire is co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, new National Basketball Association champions.

The team may play 1,000 from here. But — as Google’s aerial view shows — his Greens Farms property includes a full-size basketball court.

With the slogan all of Wisconsin (and now the NBA) knows well: “Fear the Deer”!

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo proves there is life in even the most unlikely places.

(Photo/Diane Yormark)

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And finally … happy 48th birthday to Rufus Wainwright!

Roundup: Le Penguin, Portables, Jim Himes …

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Each year, the American Institute of Architects’ Connecticut chapter sponsors a “Connecticut Treasures” contest.

The public is invited to explore the wealth and diversity of buildings from each of our state’s 8 counties. Then they vote on their favorite — based on design, historical relevance, or just because it’s the county they live in.

This year’s theme is “theaters.” The Fairfield County entrant is the Westport Country Playhouse.

Voting ends Friday (July 23, 11:59 p.m.). Click here for details.

Will the Westport Country Playhouse be this year’s AIA state treasure?

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From the Pickle Barrel to Blue Lemon and — most recently — Le Penguin, the building in the corner of Sconset Square nearest the Post Road has been many things.

It will soon be something else. When we find out exactly what, you’ll be the first to know.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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It took a while. But the portable classrooms at Bedford Middle School are finally back on the road.

They were used when Coleytown Middle School was closed, due to mold. The school reopened in January.

Moving the massive structures was not easy. The turn from into the exit drive, from the north side of the school, was tight. And the parking lots are the the midst of a repaving project, making the going extra tough.

The portables served us well, when we needed them. Now they’re are on their way to some other district, for some other reason.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Congressman Jim Himes was in town last Saturday, for a “town hall” meeting at the Westport Library.

If you couldn’t get there — or want another chance to talk to your representative — he’s hosting a virtual town hall this afternoon (Tuesday, July 20, 5:30 p.m.).

Click here to submit a video question. Click here to watch the event, on Himes’ Facebook page.

Congressman Jim Himes, at a previous “town hall” meeting.

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He’s still 8 years away from his driver’s license. But 8-year-old Dylan Rosen got a glimpse of the good life Sunday, at the Westport PAL classic car show.

This Camaro was cool 60 years before he was born. It still is.

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Dylan may be only 8 years old. But I’d bet the farm he can park better than a somehow-licensed driver, who walked away from this job on Riverside Avenue:

(Photo/Michael Chait)

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Still speaking of cars: This morning’s post about traffic woes in town drew plenty of comments.

Stephanie Bass has her own thoughts. This sign sits outside her Old Mill-area home:

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Ben & Jerry’s is on one side of the Middle East controversy. Morton Williams is on the other.

The Vermont-based ice cream maker announced it will no longer sell in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In response, the New York supermarket change is slashing its Ben & Jerry’s products by 70%, will stop promoting it in its weekly ads, and will demote the brand to the “least desirable locations” of its freezers.

That quote comes from Avi Kaner, Morton Williams co-owner, and former Westport 2nd selectman and Board of Finance chair.

He explained: “Of all the places in the world to boycott, Ben & Jerry’s has chosen to target the one Jewish nation in the world.”

Click here for the full New York Post story.

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

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I try to stay away from beach sunrise or sunset photos. I get up to 10 a day, and can’t possibly use 99% of them. (Gentle hint…)

But this shot was different. Here’s how to make the “06880” sunrise cut:

(Photo/Kevin Carroll)

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George Billis Gallery on Main Street hosts a free, open cocktail reception for its next group show tomorrow (Wednesday, July 21, 5 to 7 p.m.).

Featured artists include Derek Buckner, Julian Cardinal, Alice Federico, Paul Pitsker, Jeffrey Reed and Jarvis Wilcox.

“Key Bird” (Paul Pitsker)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image is from Judith Katz’s garden of earthly delights.

(Photo/Judith Katz)

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And finally … on this date in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk walk on the moon. Ten others have followed. The last 2 — Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt — made the journey in 1972.

There are squintillions of songs with “moon” in the title. These are a few favorites:

Main Street: One Real Estate Firm’s View

They’re not the Trump Organization, the mammoth real estate company. They’re not Empire State Realty, which own the Empire State Building — and commercial real estate on Westport’s Main Street.

But Admiral Real Estate Services is no slouch. The commercial real estate company focuses on retail sites in the tri-state area. You’ve seen their signs on vacant storefronts around town.

If they have their way, you’ll see fewer in the future. Admiral is bullish on Westport.

The last couple of years have not been easy, notes president and CEO Jonathan Gordon.

Norwalk’s new SoNo Collection mall — “the newest and shiniest project out there,” Gordon admits — “sucked a lot of the energy out of downtown.”

COVID brutalized merchants and landlords. Downtown Westport — and similar markets like Darien, Greenwich, Rye and Scarsdale — saw shoppers flee to online.

But as the nation emerges from the pandemic, Gordon says, “retailers are returning our calls.”

Part of the reason, he believes, is “internet fatigue. Millennials want a more experiential shopping experience. Retailers see a need to be downtown.”

One empty storefront is among the most visible in all of downtwn.

“Downtown” draws more than Westporters, Gordon says. It’s a destination for many area residents. Within a 15-minute drive, Admiral’s website says, “the  population jumps to over 150,000 with an average income exceeding $170,000, resulting in total buying power for in-store retail goods (excluding food and drink) of $4 billion+.”

One thing that Westport has over some other affluent suburbs is that while residents leave in the summer for vacations (and vacation homes), they’re replaced by equally affluent summer residents. That’s attractive to Admiral — and the properties they represent.

Despite an upturn in commercial real estate activity, there are still a number of empty storefronts. For Admiral, that includes 2 properties at the Post Road/ Main Street intersection, and 4 others on the river side of Main Street (one is the long-vacant 2-story restaurant most recently occupied by Boca and Acqua).

Boca restaurant closed in 2018. The Main Street property has been empty ever since.

Admiral also represents 2 properties on Post Road East, near Balducci’s.

For retailers looking for a new location, Gordon says, Westport’s competition is “really Greenwich.” It’s a “formidable” location, with a “nice, long retail strip, close to New York City.”

So, he says diplomatically, he tries to sell both locations.

In terms of Westport, Gordon says, “we view Main Street as one entity. Our goal is to find retailers that help other retailers be successful.” La Fenice gelateria — an Admiral tenant — is one such place.

“People who get a gelato will go next door to shop,” Gordon notes. “If they come at night, they’ll go window shopping.”

The new Barnes & Noble — not an Admiral property — is another example of “exactly what downtown needs.”

27 Main Street is another Admiral property.

So how tough a sell is Westport?

“Everything is tough these days,” Gordon says. “We may drag people there by the scruffs of their neck. But we show them the free parking lots. We give them marketing materials, with specific breakdowns of population, income and consumer purchases. We help them assess the viability of a site. Seeing downtown is more powerful for them than anything.”

In the past, he notes, potential retailers have been “surprised at the disconnect between the number of vacant stores, and the potential.”

Coming out of COVID, he hopes, those numbers — and that disconnect — will diminish. In their place will be a new mix of retailers, and eager shoppers from far and wide.

La Plage Pops Up At Longshore

Michael Ryan has spent his career in hospitality. He’s opened restaurants around the world.

But as a longtime Westporter, he’s always been fascinated by Longshore. The Inn — beautifully situated, now a bit long in the tooth — has enormous potential. The restaurant — now closed — also has the chance to be something special.

For the past several months, Ryan has worked on both properties.

He’s partnered with Greenwich Hospitality Group — owner of the Delamar Hotels, and the new operator of the Inn at Longshore.

Renovating the Inn is a long-term project. Fortunately for a few dozen brides, their weddings have gone on without a hitch (so to speak).

The big news is that a pop-up restaurant will appear soon, in the old Pearl space.

The restaurant at the Inn at Longshore is a spectacular location.

“La Plage” — French for “the beach” (though the menu will be “coastal,” rather than French) — hopes to be open by the end of July.

Work was underway this week. Floors have been stripped; the interior is lighter; the deck and patio are as inviting as ever.

“This spot deserves something special,” says Ryan.

Meanwhile, he is looking for help. The labor shortage is real. He’s put out a call for everyone: kitchen help, front of the house, bartenders, servers, hosts. If interested, email mryan@innatlongshore.com.

And keep checking “06880” for news. The moment La Plage opens, you’ll know.

Roundup: Shopping, MoCA Bar, Chimneys …

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The Westport Downtown Association hosts its second (of 3) Summer Outdoor Shopping Days tomorrow (Saturday, July 17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

This isn’t the traditional “sidewalk sale.” But word on the (Main) Street is that some stores will offer great deals anyway.

Main and Elm Streets will be closed. There will be a food truck, bar and live music all day long.

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Luisa Francoeur writes:

I am an avid supporter of Sustainable Westport and a participant in the Food Scrap Recycling Program. The organization needs our help today. Friday, July 16 is the last day to contribute to the Zero Food Waste Grant challenge.

The program’s goal is raising $7,500. Each dollar raised will be doubled. This will allow Sustainable Westport to do so much more for our community. Donors will be entered to win a giveaway from one of the sponsors.

Our Food Scrap Recycling is working to decrease residential food waste by at least 25%. Close to 1 out of 4 bags of groceries are eventually thrown away. Food waste is one of the heaviest, wettest and most expensive types of trash for the town to incinerate.

If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the US.

Sustainable Westport has partnered with Earthplace and Wakeman Town Farm to transform Westport into a green community. The goal  is to become a Net Zero community by the year 2050, when the community has reduced its impacts across energy, water and waste so they are sustainably managed, using approaches that are economically viable, of social benefit, and environmentally responsible.”

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MoCA Westport is more than an art museum and educational center.

It’s now a full-service bar.

The Newtown Turnpike institution now serves custom cocktails, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.

But what’s a bar without Happy Hour? Starting July 22, they’ll throw one every Thursday (5 to 7 p.m.). There’s a new signature cocktail each week — plus free admission to the exhibition.

The bar at MoCA Westport.

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Speaking of downtown and beverages … “cool beans” dates back to “Full House.”

But it’s both a great expression, and a great way of describing the offerings at one of Westport’s favorite coffee shops.

Plus, this is just a very cool shot.

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Fred Cantor is one of “06880”‘s most alert readers.

And one of the most curious.

He sends this photo …

… and writes:

“This is not the first time I have seen a chimney left standing in a Westport teardown.

“There must be an important reason for taking down everything but the chimney. Perhaps some of your readers know the answer.

“Is it because chimneys are more difficult to build these days (since it involves brickwork that would not otherwise be used in the construction of a new house)?

“Or does it represent some kind of loophole in local regs with respect to teardowns that enables builders to do something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do if the chimney had been torn down?”

Perhaps there’s another explanation. If you have insights, click “Comments” below.

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As expected, I missed at least one Westport-connected Emmy nomination yesterday.

Staples High School 1974 graduate/former Player Sue Handman is up for her writing and narration on “Once Upon a City.” Good luck to all Westport nominees!

And while I noted that Staples High School Class of 1988 graduate Kerri Kenney-Silver is up for an award as Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for “Reno 911!”, she’s also nominated for an executive producer award for the same show. Kerri had 2 similar “Reno 911!” nominations in 2020.

Emmy Award

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John Porio grew up in the 1970s and ’80s with classic rock. He was pleased when his own kids — like himself, Staples High School students — got involved with the School of Rock.

Then he did too. He met some fellow musicians there, and did a couple of adult shows.

Now they’ve formed their own band. They’re having fun — and raising funds for Homes for the Brave. Since 2002, the Bridgeport organization has provided housing, vocational education and life skills training to over 1,200 veterans.

John’s band — Gold Dust — performed on Memorial Day weekend. On July 24 (4-9 p.m.), they’ve got a bigger gig. The venue is a group member’s property at 399 Center Street in Easton. There’s a barn, patio and big lawn — perfect for any rock show.

Gold Dust includes Westporters Jeffery and Laurie Gross, and Leila Jones Shields. They’ll perform after the School of Rock band. The public is invited.

Gold Dust

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This week’s Westport Garden Club #FridayFlowers arrangement has a special place in “06880”‘s heart: It was made for last night’s “blog party,” at Compo Beach.

And — if I do say so myself — the flowers that graced a picnic table last night was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!

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A celebration of the life of David Tarqueno will be held this Saturday (July 17, 2 p.m., St. Luke Church). The Staples High School graduate — an avid fisherman and nature lover — died in December, from complications of COVID-19. He was 61.

David Tarqueno

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Paul Delano writes: “The bee balm flowers in my garden bloomed recently. They’re now are attracting hummingbirds.”

Indeed they are. But what’s as remarkable as this “Westport … Naturally” show of nature is that Paul could capture it so well. Hummingbirds are tough to photograph — they sure can fly!

(Photo/Paul Delano)

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And finally … the incomparable Darlene Love headlines tonight’s benefit show at the Levitt Pavilion. There’s a reason she’s on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Singers. And in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

 

Roundup: Larry Bradley, Boathouse, Longshore …

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Westport’s land use community was stunned this week by the death of Larry Bradley. The town’s Planning and Zoning Department director from 2005 to 2016 succumbed to a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 54 years old.

Bradley resigned to become planning director of planning and community development for the Seminole tribe in Florida. Since 2019, he serve das director of Palm Bay Growth Management, also in Florida.

Before Westport, Bradley worked at municipal planning posts in Greenwich, White Plains and Rye.

According to Florida Todayhe was a New York Giants fan; he enjoyed travel and opera, and was a ember of the Loyal Order of Moose. He is survived by his wife Maria.

Former Westport Planning & Zoning Commission chair Chip Stephens told “06880”:

“Larry Bradley was beloved and respected in Westport, especially by all members of the P&Z and Zoning Board of Appeals.

“Larry was a master of land use regulation, and a gentle person with residents and elected officials. In a time when many sought to show their power or position Larry was always a steady voice, listening and seeking advice from those who had an opinion but not always the regulatory knowledge to back it up. He played well and patiently in the sandbox.

“There were always voices that said Larry was not forceful or aggressive enough on Westport land use, but those voices did not appreciate his working hard to engage all parties, while inserting his wealth of local, state and overall land use regulation and theory.

“Larry was a big influence on Westport as we know it today, establishing regulations protecting open space and natural resources, reining in sprawl, and maintaining a level playing field between development and preservation.

“Westport residents today: Whether or not you were lucky to have known Larry Bradley in his time here or have arrived since his departure. we all owe a smile and prayer in his passing with a big thanks for being here, and hope Larry’s new home allows him to smile back down on Westport.”

Larry Bradley

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Tomorrow (Sunday, July 11, 2 to 6 p.m.), the Boathouse at Saugatuck Rowing Club hosts its first-ever tea dance.

Modeled on one at its semi-namesake — the Boatslip in Provincetown — it’s open to the public. Music is by DJ Mo. The LGBTQ community is especially invited. Proceeds from the $10 admission will be donated to the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth organization.

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Neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night keep the Westport Garden Club from delivering its #FridayFlowers. This week — despite torrential rain — an arrangement including a variety of hydrangeas welcomes Westporters at the main entrance to Longshore Club Park.

(Photo/Pat Nave)

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“Westport … Naturally” offers this lesson on dragonflies: They were among the first winged insects to evolve, 300 million years ago. Modern dragonflies have wing spans of only 2 to 5 inches — but fossil dragonflies have been found with spans of up to 2 feet.

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally …  On this day in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee, the “Monkey Trial” began. John T. Scopes, a high school science teacher, was accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.

Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1,500 in 2020), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. Nearly a century later, Americans continue to argue about the importance of science in our daily lives.

 

Cold Fusion: The Remarkable Back Story

Cold Fusion opened Thursday. From the moment the new gelato place served its first scoop, it was packed.

It’s on Main Street near Avery Place, in the former Papyrus space next to Chase Bank.

Or, to put it another way: opposite the old Remarkable Book Shop.

The Remarkable Book Shop.

Relative newcomers know it as the long-shuttered Talbots (soon to be, remarkably, Local to Market, selling fresh produce, food and artisan craft items, all produced around here).

Cold Fusion owners (and longtime Westporters) Eric and Kelly Emmert know their history. As they planned their store, they knew they wanted to honor their long-ago neighbor.

For 34 years, an Edward Gorey-inspired dancing figure hung on the side of the Remarkable Book Shop.

Now — after all these years — he’s back.

With a different point of view. He’s inside Cold Fusion — occupying the spot he gazed out upon, for all those years.

The Remarkable Guy was stored at the former Westport Historical Society. More recently, Pam Barkentin has taken care of him. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The Remarkable Book Shop was owned by Sidney and Esther Kramer. (The store’s perfect name includes “Kramer,” spelled backward.) Their children, Mark and Wendy, have loaned the iconic work of art to the Emmerts.

Esther made her store a Westport landmark. Shelves were filled with books on every topic imaginable. Cozy, overstuffed chairs (and a house cat named Heathcliffe) invited browsers to sit, read, linger and talk to each other long before “store experiences” were a thing.

Esther knew every customer’s name, from Paul Newman and writers to young children. She and her team of loyal, learned employees remembered everyone’s interests and tastes, and happily recommended the next good read.

Warm, friendly and funky, the pink store was a community gathering place from 1960 until 1994.

That’s the kind of feeling the Emmerts hope to recreate at Cold Fusion. Bringing the Remarkable Guy back is a great way to start.

Cold Fusion: Today’s Hot Opening

Main Street’s gelato cup runneth over.

Cold Fusion opens today. That’s the second gelato shop downtown. La Fenice was the first, last month.

The Cold Fusion brand is well known to Westporters — and has a distinct local “flavor.”

Gelato and sorbet — made by hand, with all-natural, locally sourced ingredients — is sold at many cool places on the East Coast (including Mystic Market and Rizzuto’s). There’s also a retail store in Newport, Rhode Island.

Cold Fusion is owned by Westporters Eric and Kelly Emmert. They searched for a long time for a local shop. They found the perfect location in the old Papyrus store (next to Chase Bank).

There’s an outdoor patio too. History lovers note: The original Ice Cream Parlor was located a few doors away.

Owner Eric Emmert (right) and crew Nate Kolek and Imogen Barnes — both Staples High School graduates — are ready for customers. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

The Emmerts offer 32 artisan gelato choices, both traditional (hazelnut, pistachio, stracciatella) and new (amaretto almond crunch, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, milk chocolate brownie). There are no food colorings, powders or preservatives.

Sorbets are dairy-free, vegan and made with fresh whole fruits. Everything is kosher-certified.

Besides gelato and sorbet, Cold Fusion carries locally sourced chocolates, and espresso, cappuccino and coffee from local roasters. Hand-packed and packaged pints are available to go.

Cold Fusion is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Eric and Kelly Emmert, and their gelato.