Category Archives: Restaurants

Any ‘Port In A Storm

The forecast says snow for the next few hours.

But — fingers crossed! — there are only flurries right now. And the winds have brought only very scattered power outages. (Five customers were out at 9 a.m.; they were restored by 9:30.)

So The ‘Port — the warm, welcoming casual restaurant in National Hall, just across the river from downtown — has put out the word: They’re open all day.

“Soup is on,” say owners Sal and Melissa Augeri. “There’s complimentary hot cocoa for anyone who joins us today.”

And, they add: “PJs are welcome!”

 

“Supper & Soul” Offers Food, Drink & Music

A dog festival. Slice of Saugatuck. Tuesdays @ the Train.

You can’t say the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce just sits around exchanging business cards.

Now the organization — which takes its mandate to promote local businesses very broadly — announces its latest let’s-all-get-out-and-have-a-good-time idea.

“Supper & Soul” ties together a few of Westport’s favorite activities: eating out, concert going and drinking.

One ticket is good for a 3-course meal at one of 5 downtown restaurants; a concert at nearby Seabury Center, and a stop back at any of those same restaurants for happy hour-priced drinks. It’s all sponsored (appropriately enough) by lifestyle guru Mar Jennings.

“Supper & Soul” comes at a perfect time: the mid-winter doldrums. The first is set for Saturday evening, January 27.

Dana Fuchs

The 5 restaurants are Amis, Boca, Rothbard Ale + Larder, Spotted Horse and Tavern on Main.

Featured entertainer Dana Fuchs heads out soon on a European tour. But first she’ll prowl the Seabury stage, pouring her heart into the microphone like Janis Joplin (or, I’m told, Robert Plant). Many Westporters know her from the Fairfield Theater Company.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. The concert is at 8. Tickets can be bought online (click here); meal reservations are made on a first-come, first-served  basis through the chamber.

Chamber executive director Matthew Mandell calls the idea “date night in a bottle. Or just a chance to hang with friends.”

I call the idea very, very cool.

Photo Challenge #157

Last week’s photo challenged many “06880” readers. Diane Silfen was one. “I guess I spend way too much time in Saugatuck,” she wrote. “I need to get out more.”

If she does, she should head east on the Post Road. There — on the side of the building that once housed Swanky Frank’s, Woody’s and Dairy Queen, and is now the very popular Little Barn restaurant — hangs a wooden American flag.

Only Tom Ryan, Fred Cantor and Jonathan McClure knew where they’d seen it. Click here for Ed Simek’s photo, and the very few (hey, it was Christmas Eve!) comments.

Bobbie Herman took this week’s photo challenge. If you know where in Westport you can see it, click “Comments” below.

Hint: Bobbie says “it’s really decrepit.”

Remembering Jessica Shure

Jessica Shure — a Staples Players star in productions like “Guys and Dolls,” “Mame,” “The Mystery of  Edwin Drood” and “The Sound of Music” — died on Wednesday of a brain aneurysm.

The 2001 graduate is remembered by Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long for her “exceptional soprano voice, quirky sense of humor and devotion to musical theatre.” Here she is as Deirdre Peregrine/Rosa Bud in “Drood”:

As a senior, she performed a memorable spring concert solo with Alice Lipson’s choir.

She headed to Northwestern University and pursued acting after Staples, then changed careers and focused on food. She became a valued pastry chef at Bill Taibe’s Whelk and Kawa Ni. (Click here for a profile of her there.)

Jessica Shure (Photo courtesy of CTEatsOut.com)

Friends are invited to stop by the Shure house today (Saturday, December 30), from 1 to 6 p.m.

Her sister Caitlin and brother Dan suggest that contributions in her name can be made to a local animal shelter or the American Civil Liberties Union,

(Hat tip: Jim Honeycutt)

Tina’s Cousins Come To Town

A year ago, Westport said goodbye to Tina Wessel.

Over 150 people gathered in Christ & Holy Trinity Church to mourn the homeless woman who for years had limped around town. She died — alone — in a shed she frequented near the Senior Center.

Photos of Tina Wessel, from her memorial service.

A few days ago, Westport welcomed Cornelia Kunzel and Rolf Rabe. They live in Germany, and are Tina and Ludy Wessel’s first cousins. Ludy — Tina’s brother — died in 2012.

Cornelia and Rolf came to see where their cousins had lived. They wanted to meet Tina and Ludy’s friends and acquaintances; thank Human Services, and give a donation to Homes With Hope.

Cornelia Kunzel and Rolf Rabe at Christ & Holy Trinity Church, where Tina Wessel’s ashes are interred.

Accompanied by Ellen Naftalin (who helped Tina) and Larry Ritter (a close friend of Ludy’s), they traced Tina’s frequent routes through town.

They saw the shed she called home, and toured the Senior Center nearby.

They had lunch at Rye Ridge Deli — the new downtown spot that replaced Oscar’s. Late owner Lee Papageorge always fed and looked out for Tina.

They visited Christ & Holy Trinity Church, where Tina’s ashes are interred.

And they drove all around Westport. At the end of their meaningful day, they watched the sun set — crimson red — over Long Island Sound.

Cornelia, Rolf and Tina.

Saugatuck Redevelopment Schedule Set

In his twin roles as RTM member and executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Matthew Mandell keeps his eye on the town.

He wants everyone to know what’s happening with redevelopment plans for Saugatuck — the RTM district he represents. Yesterday, he told constituents that the study committee will meet — without the consultants — this Tuesday (December 19, 8 a.m., Town Hall Room 201).

The public may attend, and will be given the option to speak. However, Mandell says, “It might take a bit to get to you. I think the committee will have a lot to talk about.”

He included a link to the Executive Summary (click here to read).

A map in the Executive Summary shows possible developments in Saugatuck.

Three days later — on December 22 — consultants will submit the draft report/plan to the town.

Mandell says, “Personally, I think this might be too quick, figuring there might be a whole slew of changes and requests from the committee. But hey, it’s a goal from the chairs.”

On January 11 (Town Hall, 8 a.m.), the committee and consultants will discuss the plan.

A public evening session is set for January 22 (7 p.m.).

The final draft will be submitted to the town on February 2. Three days later — 9 days before the deadline — it will be submitted to the state.

Mandell says there is one thing he has not seen: when the committee itself votes on the plan.

The previous redevelopment of Saugatuck brought a retail/residential complex that includes The Whelk, Saugatuck Sweets, Downunder and 20 apartments. It is separate from the new redevelopment plan.

Brownstone Finds A Main Street Home

Victoria Schallert reels off the names of locally owned, independent businesses downtown:

Le Rouge by Aarti. Dovecote. Lucy’s. Bungalow. Swoon. Faye Kim. Organachs. Age of Reason. Bespoke Designs. Oddz. Savvy & Grace. Soleil Toile. Fetaire. Bella Bridesmaids. Noya Fine Jewelry.

Plus all the smaller chains of just a few shops, like Lux Bond & Green, Shoe Inn and Shoes ‘n’ More.

And all the restaurants, ranging from Jeera Thai and Finalmente to Boca, Tavern on Main, Jesup Hall, Le Penguin, Joe’s and Westport Pizzerias, The ‘Port and many others.

Her point is: Downtown — including sometimes-overlooked Sconset Square and the Saugatuck River’s west bank — is not just chain stores (and not just women’s clothing).

Schallert should know. She’s the longtime owner of The Brownstone. That’s the jewelry, accesories and (okay) women’s clothing store on the 2nd floor of 142 Main Street.

The Brownstone, on the 2nd floor of 142 Main Street.

More directly, her fun, fashionable and eclectic shop sits right between Tavern on Main and Brooks Corner. The building once housed the original Ice Cream Parlor.

You don’t get more homegrown than that.

Schallert — whose background was in corporate security compliance — switched gears and careers in 2005. Her first Brownstone was on Washington Street in South Norwalk.

But that street was “dying,” she says. So 2 years later she joined with Westporter Mariana Hurtado (who worked at Banana Republic) and Celeste Puglisi (of Shoe Inn and Banana Republic), and moved to 36 Main Street.

She adored the location — right before Banana Republic and Shoe Inn — as well as landlord Drew Friedman.

“He gave us an opportunity. He really cared about the town,” Schallert says.

Victoria Schallert and Mariana Hurtado. Their store looks out over Main Street.

Of course, no store is ever static.

Over the years, as entertaining styles changed, The Brownstone’s focus shifted too. They now sell fewer home accessory items like candelabras; more jewelry, handbags and clothing.

Schallert and her partners work hard to welcome customers. They serve coffee and tea. (“A big corporate company might worry about the liability if someone spills,” she notes.) They gift wrap too, which many chains have gotten away from.

After Friedman sold in 2014, the new owners — Forstone Capital — wanted a larger tenant. They offered Schallert space upstairs. But the town said no to a zoning change that would have allowed the move.

So The Brownstone headed up the street, where Great Stuff had been.

Schallert loves that location — all of Main Street, in fact.

She knows it’s not perfect. It floods. (That’s why she had a tile — not wood — floor at her ground floor location. And when Hurricane Sandy hit, the owners put merchandise in their cars and brought it to their homes.)

A small part of The Brownstone’s offerings.

Schallert adds, “veryone wants independents. But rents are high.”

Yet, Schallert says, because of its small, walkable size, downtown Westport could be like a European village. She envisions folks strolling from Sconset Square through Main Street and across the river, at all hours of the day and evening.

“Everyone exercises here,” she notes. “They should walk downtown.”

But that takes a different mindset, she admits. “People invest in the schools and the library. They have to invest in — and think about — downtown too. They have to realize it nourishes us.”

Schallert wants everyone to know: You can get plenty of locally owned, great nourishment throughout downtown Westport.

And not just at our wonderful restaurants.

Pic Of The Day #240

DaPietro’s: A warm welcome on a cold night. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

Day Tripper

Yesterday’s New York Times NY/Region section included a “Day Trip” feature to Westport.

Readers in the tri-state area — around the world, really — learned some interesting things about our town.

The itinerary begins at Match Burger Lobster, Staples grad Matt Storch’s new restaurant next to Fleishers Craft Butchery. Who knew that his kitchen crew shucks more than 500 pounds of lobster each week — or that lobster tastes better in winter, because cold water makes it sweeter?

From the restaurant, the story suggests, visitors can walk over the William F. Cribari Bridge. It’s named, the Times says, for “a beloved traffic conductor,” though “beloved traffic cop” is a bit clearer.

Bill Cribari, “beloved traffic conductor.” (Photo montage courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

“The short span provides vistas of the nautical town and entree to uninterrupted sidewalks through a Gold Coast neighborhood of mansions that are not above running weekend tag sales,” the paper excitedly reports.

The next 3 paragraphs talk about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s 1920 rental on Compo Road South, near the Longshore entrance. Friends said the couple were “reveling nude in the orgies of Westport,” even though Zelda called the town “unendurably dull.” Imagine what they would have done in a livelier place!

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald slept — and partied — here.

“Day Trip” moves on to “secluded Compo Beach.” The Times describes it as “rocky (and) shell-studded….Tranquil and contemplative in winter, the sunsets are gorgeous.”

The final part of a day in Westport, apparently, should be a stop at the Black Duck. The paper calls it a “watering hole,” and singles out this feature: the $11 martini.

The martini “may be the biggest on the Eastern Seaboard, a further way to unwind after a leisurely day. Founded in 1978, too bad it wasn’t around for the Fitzgeralds,” the Times concludes, with both lame humor and a dangling modifier.

The best place for an $11 martini. (Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

(Hat tip: Peter Perry)

Photo Challenge #153

Positano has been gone from Old Mill for nearly 3 years. But “06880” readers have not forgotten it.*

Even though it’s abandoned and empty, current and ex-Westporters recognized Dana Kuyper’s photo of the interior — with Long Island Sound in the background — as that popular restaurant. Many referenced its much-loved predecessor — Cafe de la Plage — too. (Click here for the photo.)

Congratulations to Fred Cantor, Mary Palmieri Gai, Chip Stephens, Rich Stein, Christopher Buckley, Luke Garvey, David Sampson, Jonathan McClure, Linda Amos, Tom Siebrasse, Linda Stern, Dana Brownell, Marion Kelly, Cindy Zuckerbrod, Stephanie Bass, Ralph Balducci, Bert Reisman, Sandy Rothenberg, Shirlee Gordon, Kelle Ruden, David Abrams, Mitzi Lyman, Peter Swift, Stephanie Ehrman, Seth Goltzer, Fran White, Grover Fitch, Eileen Belmont, Andrea Metchick, Mary Ann Batsell, Claire Hurley, Ken Palumbo, Rosalie Kaye, Peter Ritchey, Mike Moore, Mark Soboslai, Amy Katz and Jeanine Esposito. You know your old restaurants!

But do you know where this week’s photo challenge was taken? If you think you do, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

*Nor should anyone else. It’s still serving great food, at its new location next to the Westport Country Playhouse.