There’s always something new on Westport’s dining plate.
Even during the pandemic, new restaurants opened all around town. Long time eateries adapted, tweaking menus, offering takeout, and rising to challenging times.
Now’s your chance to sample them all — old and new.
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s “Restaurant Week” starts today (Sunday, October 17).
Actually, that’s a misnomer. The event is 2 weeks — it runs all the way through October 31.
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event features 15 spots (one for each day of the promotion). They offer prix fixe meals, from one end to the other, with a variety of cuisines and price points.
Lunches begin at $20; dinners, $25. Brunch, from $25 up, is also offered at some locales.
California-Mediterranean fusion is on the menu at Capuli, in the former Westport Pizzeria Post Road East space.
This is a perfect chance to head to new spots. Then visit an older one you’ve always wanted to try.
That when the Westport Police Department joins the state Department of Transportation’s “distracted driving enforcement campaign.”
They note that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph — the average speed on the Post Road, sometimes, ahem — that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
And did you know that driving while texting is 6 times more dangerous than intoxicated driving?
If you don’t care about that, consider this: Tickets for distracted driving are $200 for the first offense, $375 for the second, and $625 for all subsequent violations.
The former 2nd selectman and Board of Finance chair has been named to the Algemeiner’s list of “Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life 2021.”
His writeup calls the co-owner of the Morton Williams supermarket chain a “social media activist on behalf of Israel. When ice cream manufacturers Ben & Jerry’s announced in July that its products would no longer be sold to Jewish communities in the West Bank, Kaner went on the counteroffensive, securing agreement from the Morton Williams Board to reduce the Ben & Jerry’s products it sells in its 16 stores in New York and New Jersey by 70 percent.”
A Staples High School Inklings editor, and editor of the literary journal Soundings, was quoted at length in a Guardian story about the school surveillance tool Gaggle. The reporter found her through an Inklings editorial she wrote last year. Click here for the eye-opening Guardian article.
Westporter Jim O’Donoghue died Sunday. He was 83 years old.
The Dublin native captained the rugby team at University College Cork. He earned a bachelor’ degree in electrical engineering there, and also met his wife Margaret.
Working for Quigley steel refractories, Jim travelled extensively, and brought his 3 daughters mementos from all over the world. The company was bought by Pfizer, and the family moved to Westport in 1984.
Jim ran regularly, golfed and rowed. He loved fishing, especially on Waterville Lake. He was a historian, a great conversationalist and a gripping storyteller. Dinner was punctuated with discussions on politics, as well as anecdotes about travel.
Jim wrote several books, including children’s stories, and read avidly. He was a fan of Russian classics and spy novels.
Jim is survived by Margaret, his wife of 58 years; daughters Elina (Dan), Sharon (Jack) and Lisa (Ilair); brother Neil; sister Anne, and grandchildren Ryan, Ciara, Maija and Sophie.
A viewing and farewell is set for Harding Funeral Home in Westport this Sunday (October 17, 3 to 6 pm). Mass will be held at St Luke Church also in Westport on October 18 (11 a.m.) The service will be live streamed (click here).
And finally … Paddy Moloney died Monday in Dublin, at 83.
The New York Times called him “the playful but disciplined frontman and bagpiper of the Chieftains, a band that was at the forefront of the worldwide revival of traditional Irish music played with traditional instruments.”
They won 6 Grammys, and collaborated with everyone from Van Morrison, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney to Luciano Pavarotti. Click here for the full obituary.
The Westport Inn has always been a weird part of Westport.
Built as a motel in the early 1960s to serve travelers on nearby I-95, it morphed into a slightly more upscale place — though hardly an “inn” — in recent years.
It was a place for guests to go when we didn’t want them in our homes, and where high school reunion-goers stayed. But there we never thought about the ballroom for banquets. We did not patronize its succession of restaurants, which opened and closed in dizzying fashion. It was in Westport, but it was never really of it.
If a longtime Westporter has his way, all that may change.
Jim Randel has practiced law here for 40 years. He’s also president of Rand Real Estate Services, which invests in underutilized properties in Connecticut and Florida.
His initial venture was the abandoned Factory Store by the East Norwalk train station. He turned it into the Factory Outlet Center, the first such urban development in the US. Rand real estate has done 40 or so projects since.
The 117-room Westport Inn is one of those properties.
Its most recent owner was Bridgewater. When Randel asked the hedge fund’s facilities manager if they’d sell, the answer was yes. The deal closed last November.
He’s now the lead partner in WI Associates. The other investors are also Westport residents. They were not sure what they’d do with the 3.8-acre property. But it’s a great location, and they knew they could be both creative and constructive with it.
After conversations with hospitality and housing experts, and neighbors, they had an idea. It’s not yet complete. But the outline is intriguing.
Working with the Greenwich Hospitality Group — owners of the Delamar hotels in Southport and Greenwich, and operators now of the Inn at Longshore and La Plage restaurant — they plan to take down the original, front building.
The 42 rooms in the rear building — built 25 or so years ago — would be upgraded. The ballroom would become a restaurant and conference areas. There would be outdoor seating and gardens. But 1 1/2 acres behind — a dedicated conservation area — would not be touched.
In addition, 16 to 18 units would be built, nearest the Willows Pediatric building. They would be unlike anything in Fairfield County: “condo-tels,” or condos with access to all hotel services, including concierge, housekeeping, room service, security, and the pool and fitness center.
At 1,700 to 1,900 square feet, Randel says they would appeal to empty nesters, Florida snowbirds, and people their older parents living nearby, among others.
To help meet Connecticut’s 8-30g housing regulation, the developers are targeting 20% of the condo units as “affordable.” They’ll do that by building 3 or 4 of them off-site. They’re looking at several potential options.
All of this is subject to zoning approval.
It’s also not a slam dunk economically. As Randel notes, COVID has rocked the hotel industry. But, he says, “if we provide quality hospitality, housing and a restaurant — at prices comparable to the Delamar, which has been successful even during the pandemic — we are very optimistic.”
The next step, says engineer Rick Redniss, is filing a text change application with Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission, and conversations with neighbors.
Saturday’s “Westoberfest” has something for everyone.
The Westport Downtown Association event — set for all around Elm Street — includes road races (kids at noon, 10K at 12:30 p.m.); food, vendors, apples and pumpkin giveaways, pumpkin decorating, street magician and live music (1 to 5 p.m.), beer tasting (2 to 5 p.m.), and an air-cooled classic vintage car expo (3:30 p.m.).
Advance tickets are $40 each, $75 for 2, special 10-pack for $350. Click here for tickets. They’re $50 each, if purchased at the event.
Also on Saturday (and free): presentation of 5 murals at the Main Street entrance to Bedford Square.
Commissioned by the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, each represents a different aspect of life in Westport’s history. They start with indigenous people, and move across the wall to the future: Westport, circa 2070.
Artists include Westporter Eric Chiang, who exhibits locally and in his native Taiwan, and is a founding member of the Artist Collective of Westport; Westporter Jana Ireijo, founder of “Mural Ethos,” which creates vanishing murals to illustrate climate change; Staples and Pratt Institute graduate Rebecca Ross; Hernan Garcia from Norwalk, born in Colombia and trained in both architecture and fine arts; Bridgeport painter and Antigua native, poet, writer, actor and playwright Iyaba Ibo Mandingo.
Sure, the Westport Young Woman’s League does wonderful, charitable work.
But members have a great social time too.
On Saturday, past president Lauren Bromberg hosted a “Rock ‘n’ Paint” party at her home. Guests shot paint from water guns to create art — while rocking out to ’90s tunes.
The WYWL plans a number of other casual gatherings this year, including fire pits, wine tastings, hikes, dog play date meet-ups at Compo, coffee chats, evening dinners and more. For more information, click here or follow on Instagram: @wywlwestport.
“Shooting” artwork at the Westport Young Woman’s League social,
A sure sign of fall: Our yards and traffic islands sprout dozens of signs for political candidates.
If you’d like to base your chose on more than placards, pencil in next Tuesday (October 12, noon, Westport Library and streaming). The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Library team up for a debate between the candidates vying for 1st selectman and 2nd selectmen: Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore (Republicans), Jonathan Steinberg and Candi Savin (Democrats), and TJ Elgin and Louis D’Onofrio (independents). Chamber director Matthew Mandell will moderate.
Click here for in-person tickets, and more information. It’s available on Cablevision Channel 79, and will also be archived.
Or at least, the owner of The Whelk, Don Memo and Kawa Ni is the 2021 Restaurateur of the Year, according to the Connecticut Restaurant Association. The organization — “CRA” — will present it’s “CRAzy Award” on December 6.
Taibe was chosen by a panel of more than 2 dozen food writers, critics, social media influencers and bloggers.
Meanwhile, the public can vote for other honors. Among the nominees: Taibe’s own Don Memo (Newcomer of the Year), and OKO (Restaurant of the Year, Fairfield and Litchfield Counties). Click here to see all nominations, and cast a ballot.
Susan Fehlinger is the Westport Book Shop’s guest artist this month. She’s an oil painter. The exhibit includes 12 coastal paintings. It’s open during business hours, at the popular used bookstore on Jesup Green.
There are few things more iconic in Westport than the Black Duck.
So when last week’s Photo Challenge showed hand-painted directional signs to 2 islands (Cockenoe and Long), and equally watery Key West, many “06880” knew where they can be found: the right side of our favorite dive bar. (Hey, that’s not me: Back in 2009, the Duck was a star attraction on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives“).
Elaine Marino, Derek Fuchs, Michael Calise, Robert Mitchell, Werner Liepolt, Tony Sousa, Andrew Colabella, Bobbie Herman, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Juliana Sloane Fulbright and Seth Braunstein are all (presumably) regulars, who nailed Seth Schachter’s photo as easily as they navigate the old barge’s sloping floor. (Click here for the image.)
This week’s Photo Challenge is also water-related. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.
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