Category Archives: Restaurants

COVID Vaccine, Restriction Rollback Update:

State Senator Will Haskell offers this COVID-19 update:

Connecticut this week received 39,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in addition to the thousands of Moderna and Pfizer doses already being distributed on a regular basis. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe, effective, and requires only 1 injection, so we’ll be able to accelerate the rate of immunization significantly in the coming weeks and months.

Currently, 74 percent of state residents over the age of 75 have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine; 59 percent between 65 and 74 have received at least 1 dose, and 17 percent between 55 and 64 have received at least 1 dose. I’m proud that we’ve administered over 1 million vaccine doses.

In light of our vaccination success and the overall decline of COVID-19 cases, Governor Lamont has also announced the rollback of certain social distancing restrictions beginning March 19th, including the full capacity reopening of indoor restaurants.

These new restrictions reflect that we’re moving closer to a fully reopened economy. In the meantime, it is important that all employees and customers continue to wear masks, stay 6feet apart, and wash their hands frequently. The more we do those things, the more likely it is that we will be able to fully reopen and put this pandemic behind us in the near future.

Roundup: Outdoor Dining, P&Z Records, Food Drive …

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Love outdoor dining? Think it’s too intrusive?

On Thursday, March 11, the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing. They’ll consider a text amendment that would continue outdoor dining for over 80 restaurants — which would otherwise expire March 31 — until further notice.

The text amendment would also be expanded to include certain retail businesses.

Click here for the full document. Click here for the retail portion

The March 11 meeting will be livestreamed at 6 p.m. on www.westportct.gov, Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.

Comments can be emailed before the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov, or during the meeting to PandZComments@westportct.gov. You can offer live testimony during the meeting if you request a link from maryyoung@westportct.gov by noon on March 11.

Romanacci’s Xpress was one of several Railroad Place restaurants with outdoor dining.

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Speaking of the P&Z: Did you know that Westport has digitized its back-office land use permit process?

Users can search for and view records — free! — by clicking here. It even comes with a handy how-to tutorial:

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The last Farmers’ Market of the winter is an important one.

On Thursday, March 11 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), the Market partners with Sustainable Westport to replenish 2 food pantries: Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Center, and  Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Both are running low.

Non-perishable items (canned goods, rice, beans, pasta, jams, sauces, etc.) can be dropped off at Farmers’ Market (Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Road).

It’s rare to see canned food at the Westport Farmers’ Market. A week from tomorrow, it will be a very lovely sight.

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The other day, Positive Directions hosted Senator Chris Murphy, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

They joined Westport Human Services, Kids in Crisis, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance, NAMI and Fairfield Public Schools for a discussion on behavioral health needs during COVID and beyond.

Senator Murphy heard ideas he’ll bring to Washington. Other leaders shared best practices. Click here to learn more.

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Seth Van Beever is a proud son of Saugatuck.

Actually, a proud great-great-grandson. His great-great-grandfather, James Barnes Sr., was the first tender for what is now called the William F. Cribari Bridge.

Seth has followed the debate over the 133-year-old bridge’s future closely. So when he saw a photo of an innovative solution — a road in the Netherlands goes under the water, so boats can sail above it — he thought of us.

(Photo courtesy of @alic3lik)

That’s thinking waaaaay outside the bridge — er, the box.

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We dodged a bullet Monday.

High winds throughout Connecticut led to 18,000 power outages statewide. As of last night, there were still 4,600 Eversource customers without power.

Here in Westport, we had outages in only 3 scattered, small locations. As of last night, the only folks still without power here wee on Pheasant Lane, off Meeker Road.

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Nancy Vener took this photo from Saugatuck Shores. Stony Point is on the left; Longshore, on the right.

But what’s that blue light? She said it showed up on several photos, at different heights. If you know, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Nancy Vener)

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Juanita Watson — a 30-year Westport Public Schools employee — died last Thursday. She most recently worked in Pupil Services.

Juanita Watson

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And finally … on this day in 1931, President Hoover signed a congressional act making “The Star Spangled Banner” our official national anthem.

For decades, it was sung the same way. During the 1968 World Series, our Weston neighbor Jose Feliciano broke tradition with this version.

The national anthem has never been the same.

 

Roundup: Restaurants, Art Portfolios, More

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A reader was excited by “06880” stories on the new restaurants that have opened recently in Westport, and others that are coming soon.

She says: “We look forward to trying them all as soon as we get our second COVID shot. Can you suggest to the new places that they offer incentives to those of us who have had both shots to come inside and celebrate — maybe a new kind of Early Bird Special?”

Done! And not just for new restaurants, either. As we emerge from the depths of the pandemic, perhaps some special promotions will encourage diners to go back inside.

At the same time, with the weather slowly getting better (though not today): Don’t forget about all the outside dining options too too.

In fact, on March 11 the Planning & Zoning Commission will consider continuing its temporary outdoor dining regulations.

Outdoor dining on and around Church Lane, last summer. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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MoCA’s high school art portfolio workshop — postponed earlier this month due to weather — has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 14 (noon to 3 p.m.).

The session provides information for students applying to college and other programs. It includes lectures, slide presentations, Q-and-A and individual portfolio reviews (up to 5 samples).

The cost is $75. Click here to register. For more information, email liz@mocawestport.org.

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Discovered yesterday by Nico Eisenberger in his garden: snowbells!

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

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On the other hand, there’s still tons — literally — of snow in the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Today’s rain will make only a small dent in this.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … Happy 40th birthday, Josh Groban!

Great Sandwich Contest Begins. Westporters Bite.

In the past couple of years Westporters have voted for their favorite pizzas, burgers and soups.

Next up: sandwiches.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s Great Sandwich Contest runs throughout March. It’s dedicated to the memory of longtime A&S Fine Foods owner chef Albert Pizzirusso. The longtime Chamber supporter died earlier this month.

I have no idea what this sandwich is, or who made it. I found it on the internet. You didn’t think I’d play favorites, did you?

So far, 19 sandwich-making restaurants have signed up:

  • A&S Fine Foods
  • Calise’s
  • Capuli
  • Don Memo
  • Fortuna’s
  • Grammie’s Donuts & Biscuits
  • Joe’s Pizza
  • Kawa Ni
  • Layla’s Falafel
  • Manna Toast
  • Match Burger Lobster
  • Mystic Market
  • Organic Krush
  • Outpost Pizza
  • Rive Bistro
  • Rizzuto’s
  • The Granola Bar
  • The Whelk
  • Winfield Street Deli.

They’ll compete in 10 categories:

  • Best chicken sandwich
  • Best steak sandwich
  • Best vegetarian sandwich
  • Best combo sandwich
  • Best club
  • Best New York deli
  • Best pressed sandwich
  • Best breakfast sandwich
  • Best wrap sandwich
  • Best fish/seafood sandwich.

Judges — that’s all of us — have the month of March to visit the venues and enjoy the offerings. Then click here to vote. To post on social media, use the hashtag #greatwestportsandwich.

The winning restaurants and/or markets will receive plaques. Contest sponsor is the Berchem Moses law firm.

Dig in!

Resurgence Continues: New Restaurants, Shops Fill Downtown

In the space of a few weeks, 2 bookstores (Barnes & Noble, Westport Book Shop) and 2 restaurants (Basso, Capuli) opened downtown. Calico came too. All brought a new buzz to the area.

Turns out, they’re just the advance party. The cavalry is coming soon.

Mrs. London’s Boutique Bakery- for 20 years a fixture in Saratoga Springs, New York — replaces Aux Delices on Church Lane, at the foot of Elm Street.

They (she?) feature pastries, baguettes, croissants, grilled sandwiches, paninis, salads, quiches, soups, “decadent desserts,” espressos and teas. Ingredients are organic, locally grown and sourced.

Click here for Mrs. London’s website, and lick your lips.

Mrs. London’s desserts.

There’s more! Il Pastificio of Greenwich will open on the Post Road next to Nefaire Spa — just a couple of doors from Capuli.

They offer individual pastas and antipastos, salads, focaccias and desserts; pasta and ravioli trays, plus fresh, uncooked pasta and ravioli by the pound (and sauce!). There’s free delivery for orders over $60.

Mrs. London’s and Il Pastificio will join already-announced Cold Fusion Gelato and La Fenice Gelateria, a pair of intriguing much-more-than-ice-cream shops.

Looking forward to a sit-down meal? A new restaurant will take over the old Tavern on Main.

Still on the Main Street horizon: Sundance, Oka and State & Liberty.

Glowbar — a makeover place — moves in next to Madison Reed on Elm Street.

Tailored Home is coming to Sconset Square.

All should be open by late spring or early summer.

Charge!

Roundup: Gelato, Vaccine, Tyler Hicks, More

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What’s better than one gelato shop opening on Main Street?

Two.

Hot on the heels of news of Cold Fusion moving into the former Papaya Papyrus space next to Chase Bank in May, a sign in what was once Lucky Brand — across the street, and closer to the Post Road — announced the arrival “soon” of La Fenice.

Like its sister locations in Greenwich and Rye, it will serve gelato, crepes, pastries and coffee. Click below for a look at the Rye shop:

It’s not quite like the days when there was a frozen yogurt store on every Westport corner.

It’s better.

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First “06880” reported that St. Vincent’s was closing their Long Lots Road COVID testing facility on March 1.

Then we reported that it was remaining open.

This morning, a reader reports that his wife just phoned St. Vincent’s. She was told they are closing their Long Lots testing as of March 1.

St. Vincent’s Health Center testing will soon be in the rear mirror. (Photo/Adam Stolpen)

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It’s not just New York Times readers who appreciate Tyler Hicks’ work.

The 1988 Staples High School graduate just won 1st place in a new category — COVID-19 coverage — from Pictures of the Year International. It’s the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism program and competition in the world. This year’s awards were the 78th annual.

The honor — which follows many others, including multiple Pulitzers — is for Hicks’ photos of the pandemic’s devastation in the Amazon.

COVID in the Amazon (Photo/Tyler Hicks for New York Times)

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MoCA Westport and Up|Next Teens are partnering to present a Winter Lights Festival at MoCA. It’s set for this Saturday (February 27, noon to 6 p.m.).

The Festival features a maker and crafts space in a large outdoor tent, with supplies and step-by-step instructions for families to work together to create winter-themed decorations. The decorations will be incorporated into a walk-through Light Path, to be lit at sun down. The public can view the experience through the following weekend.

Also planned: live performances by high school musicians, food from The Melt truck, and hot cocoa.

The Festival includes free entry to MoCA ’s exhibition “Hindsight is 2020,” showcasing nearly 200 high school student artists from across the region.

Click here for tickets.

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The Fairfield County Directory — the “Yellow Pages” that is dumped in driveways and by mailboxes — will be distributed between February 25 and April 13.

The Selectmen’s Office says that residents with questions or concerns regarding the distribution of the directory should e-mail RealYPResolutions@thryv.com.

You may request directories or opt-out of future phone book deliveries by clicking here or here.

Let’s hope that works better than the national Do Not Call Registry.

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A group of swans is called a “flock” or a “wedge.”

Matt Murray spotted this flock/wedge — aka “a whole lot” — yesterday, at Sherwood Mill Pond.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … Today is the 41st anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice.” The US Olympic men’s hockey team came from behind to beat the overwhelmingly favored Soviet team 4-3, at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Al Michaels memorialized the moment on ABC: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!!!!”

That game was not, however, the final. Two days later the Americans clinched gold, with a win over Finland.

Westport connection: After a disappointing NHL career, goaltender Jim Craig worked for a marketing firm on Riverside Avenue.

Roundup: Vaccine, Venues, Jeera Thai, More

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Based on erroneous information, I reported yesterday that the  St. Vincent’s COVID testing site on Long Lots Road would close March 1.

Nope! They’ll remain open: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to noon. And no appointment is needed — just drive in.

Meanwhile, Bridgeport Hospital and Yale New Haven Health will open a new drive-thru COVID testing station at 140 Mill Plain Road in Fairfield on March 1.

The 2-lane site near the train station can accommodate 450 appointments a day, 7 days a week. Scheduling will be available online.

Yale New Haven Health operates several other COVID testing sites throughout the state. For information, call 833-275-9644.

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With declining positivity rates, Connecticut will loosen COVID-19 restrictions on some events next month.

Starting March 19, private, social and recreational events at commercial venues can increase indoor capacity to 50%, capped at 100 people. That’s up from 25 people under current rules.

Outdoor event capacities can rise to 200 people (up from 50).

Interstate athletic competitions will be allowed starting March 1. Youth sports events may have spectators up to 25 percent of venue capacity, with a 200-person cap.

We’re not quite back to this kind of wedding reception. But we’re getting there.

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Happy 5th anniversary to Jeera Thai!

Quietly, lovingly and deliciously, the small Post Road restaurant across from Design With Reach serves some of the most flavorful, authentic cuisine in town.

Or anywhere else this side of Thailand.

Through blizzards, hurricanes — and the pandemic — owner Pook and her staff are there. They serve their many loyal customers (and anyone else who wanders by, or orders online) with love. And without dumbing down their menu for the American palate.

Pook uses “correct” herbs. She pays a bit more to import brands from Thailand. It’s certainly worth it.

Jeera Thai is a Westport gem. Here’s to the next 5 years — and many more after that.

Pook (foreground) and her staff, at work.

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Former Westporter Arthur Powers Jr. died Monday. The 60-year-old struck a tree while skiing at Stowe Mountain in Vermont.

He moved to Easton in 2019, after many years on Spicer Road. The Easton Courier wrote:

Known for having a comedic actor’s sense of humor and drama, Art was an inventor and manufacturer of state-of-the-art outdoor speakers who designed music systems for 40 years. He also played drums in numerous bands in a career as a musician.

Art’s many hobbies included music, motorcycles, and mountain biking. He was an automotive enthusiast who raced cars and motorcycles. He loved being in the mountains, in the woods, and on the beach, and was an accomplished biker and skier.

In addition to his life partner of 20 years, Dr. Patricia Hart, he is survived by his daughter Kelly Poweers Bluien; parents Arthur Sr. and Evelyn; siblings Kenny, David and Corrine Powers Barton, many cousins, nieces and nephews, and a menagerie of dogs, cats and goats.

A celebration of Art’s life will be held in late summer.

Art Powers

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And finally …on this day in 1877, Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Roundup: Cribari Bridge, Charlie Capalbo, WTF, More

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1st Selectman Jim Marpe has issued a correction about the state Department of Transportation’s plans for the William F. Cribari Bridge. He says that deputy commissioner Mark Rolfe has not yet reached a final decision on the 5 alternatives under consideration.  In addition, the draft Environmental Assessment will not be released mid-March. It is at least a few months away.

Rolfe says, “The DOT seeks to continue the dialogue with stakeholders regarding this project. One potential solution is for the DOT to restore the existing bridge to a state of good repair and then transfer ownership of the bridge and a segment of Route 136 to the Town of Westport.”

Marpe noted that any DOT recommendation — when it occurs — will be subject to further review and approval.

William F. Cribari Bridge (Drone photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

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Maple sugar and tree tapping. Kids’ cooking classes. How to raise a dog. The wonderful world of honeybees.

Those are  just some of the offerings at Wakeman Town Farm, in the weeks ahead. The sustainability center contains to sustain all of us, with programs and classes for every age. Click here for details.

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Charlie Capalbo  — the 22-year-old Fairfield hockey player and grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — has been diagnosed with leukemia.

The local Two Oh Three team is helping him, in his 3rd cancer battle.

The Westport-based firm has designed a line of products to raise both funds and awareness. Charlie has collaborated on the design process — a welcome distraction has he undergoes treatment.

The collection — #CapalboStrong — features products that help the community show Charlie that they’re all in this fight with him. Funds from products sold are assist Capalbo’s medical and travel expenses, while at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The collection was launched Sunday, to his network of friends. Hundreds of orders poured in. The Two Oh Three has now launched the custom designs on their full website.

Charlie says, “Seeing people ordering gear with my Capalbo Strong logo makes me feel connected to the outside world– like I know my army of friends and family are with me, even though I can’t see them now due to COVID-19. I’m so excited for this!”

“Our daily FaceTime calls with Charlie have been rewarding beyond words,” says Two Oh Three co-founder and Staples High School graduate Roscoe Brown.

“Constantly updating him on the number products we’ve sold helps remind him just how many people he has fighting along side him.”

Click here for the Two Oh Three #CapalboStrong Collection.

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Bob Stefanowski lost his race for Connecticut governor in 2018. But he’s a winner now, promoting area restaurants during COVID with a series of “Let’s Save CT Restaurants” videos.

His latest features Winfield Street Coffee, with owner Breno Donatti. It was filmed at their Stamford location — not the Post Road West shop — but it’s worth a watch.

Breno talks about the many ways that — despite the pandemic — Winfield Street gives back to the community, from providing meals for the homeless to sponsoring a holiday toy drive.

Here’s the quick video. When you’re done watching, place an order!

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The Staples boys basketball team opened its home season yesterday with a victory over Westhill.

The only way to watch the win was on the livestream. Spectators are prohibited from gyms this winter, in all high school sports.

But the stands were “filled” — with fatheads. That’s the name for cardboard figures of fans. It’s a way to make the gym a little less lonely. It’s also a great fundraiser for the Staples Boys Basketball Association.

How many folks do you recognize in the photo below? Besides (of course) me — directly underneath the “E.”

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Christmas is long over. But Anthropologie’s giraffe remains penned in, between the store and Church Lane. Animal lovers, please help!

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … here’s wishing Ed Sheeran a “perfect” 30th birthday today.

 

Roundup: Pauli’s Bagels, St. Paddy’s Catering, Sybil’s List, More

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Bagels are back in the mini-strip mall next to Five Guys and a nail salon.

Bagel Maven closed last winter. The space is now filled by Pauli’s Deli & Bagels. It’s the second Pauli’s; the original is in Norwalk.

In addition to bagels and deli sandwiches, Pauli’s serves plenty of breakfast items, and coffee.

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Is it too early to think about St. Patrick’s Day?

Not if you’re a caterer.

Alison Milwe Grace — one of Fairfield County’s favorite chefs — has already planned her mid-March menu. She features tempting appetizers; corned beef and cabbage with roasted potatoes, roasted carrots and horseradish mustard, and Guinness Shepherd’s Pie.

For dessert: cupcakes with Irish cream frosting; Irish bread pudding with whiskey caramel sauce; Irish coffee crème brûlée, and Bailey’s chocolate mousse.

Of course, if it’s St. Paddy’s Day, Passover and Easter are not far behind.

Alison has menus for those too. Click here to see.

Alison Milwe Grace: catering, 2021-style.

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Carole Schweid appreciated a recent “06880” story about the law that business owners clear snow from their sidewalks.

But, she writes: “Riverside Barber Shop has done nothing to clear their sidewalks 

“It’s on the corner of Riverside, Treadwell and Saugatuck Avenues. There is nowhere to stand — except in the street.

“You cannot reach the button for the light to help cross the street, due to the snow. This is one of the most dangerous corners in Westport, where 3 busy streets merge.

“Every other business in the neighborhood — a place where people walk, due to the restaurants, etc. — has cleared their sidewalks.

“When I asked them to do something to make the corner safer by clearing a path, the woman who works there turned her back and walked away.”

The corner of Riverside, Treadwell and Saugatuck Avenues, at Riverside Barber Shop. (Photo/Carole Schweid)

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For years, Westporters have relied on Sybil Steinberg’s curated reading list.

It’s never more needed than during a pandemic.

Now, the longtime Westporter — a contributing editor and former book review section editor for Publishers Weekly — returns with ideas for winter reading.

Click here for Sybil’s exclusive recommendations, courtesy of the Westport Library.

Or click below, for the video version:

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Speaking of reading: Westport author Christian Hunter’s new book has just been published.

“Influence” is the story of a young woman’s journey from Venezuela to the United States, where she and her family come to grips with the disappearance of her father. Her mission is to find him, and become what she has always dreamed of: a celebrity.

Click below to learn more:

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Among the approvals at Thursday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting:

  • Conversion of the former Steinway piano store at 499 Post Road East (next to the fire station), to use by Bespoke Auto Hause for an automobile storage garage for privately owned cars.
  • Live music at Basso restaurant, on Jesup Road.

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And finally … Danny Ray died earlier this month in Georgia, at 85.

You may not have known his name. But if you saw James Brown perform, you probably saw “the hardest-working man in show business” being led away after putting everything into a song. Then he threw away his cape, returned to the stage, and gave the audience even more. Over and over again.

Danny Ray was that man. He was also the man who introduced the Godfather of Soul at his concerts.

When James Brown died in 2006, Danny Ray spoke at his funeral. “Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for star time?” he asked. Then he draped a cape over the open coffin.

 

Friday Flashback #231

Westport’s first fast-food franchise was Dairy Queen, on the Post Road near downtown.

That DQ (not to be confused with the one further east, where Little Barn is now) later became the Crest Drive-In. Much later — after demolition — that was the site of Qdoba. Today it’s vacant.

Westport has had other national fast food chains — Roy Rogers, for example (now McDonald’s). And Arby’s.

But that roast beef franchise — most notable for never having, to my knowledge, one single customer, ever — was not the first at that spot.

In the late 1960s, Carrol’s opened there. It was a red-letter day for Westport teenagers.

(Courtesy of Stephen King)

Burgers were cheap. Parking was easy. You could hang out with friends, talk loudly, and pretend you were at a real fast food place, like Burger King.

(Courtesy of Thomas O’Connell)

Which Carrol’s became, after Carrol’s. And before Arby’s.

The drive-thru window is still there. But today it’s a Starbucks.

If that doesn’t say something about how Westport has changed, I don’t know what does.