Category Archives: Restaurants

The 1st-Ever “06880” Story Involving A Tanning Salon, The Super Bowl And Public Toilets

Spotted on the front door of Palm Beach Tan, on Post Road East:

Okay. I kind of get why — a month ahead of time — they let their customers know they’ll be closing early for the Super Bowl.

They don’t want to disappoint all those pale folks racing in every Sunday evening, for those 7 p.m. appointments.

But “No Public Restrooms”?

Did I miss that epidemic of folks driving off I-95 — or those living nearby without indoor plumbing — who keep bugging Palm Beach Tan, screaming, “We gotta go!”?

The least they can do is direct them to Layla’s Falafel next door — a very welcoming spot. Maybe the 2 gas stations across the street.

Or just about any other place in town.

Plastic Fantastic Concert

From a young age, Andrew Colabella hated plastic straws. He couldn’t understand how something that was used for just a few seconds could be so quickly tossed aside, then lie around on land or in our oceans for centuries.

He never used a straw. As much as possible, he tried to avoid all forms of plastic. He used metal forks and ate off porcelain plates. But we live in a plastic, throwaway society. The number of plastic cups used and discarded at bars floored him. He thought he was the only one who noticed.

Colabella is now an RTM member. At last he can do something about plastic that goes beyond changing his own habits.

The District 4 representative has already convinced 38 local restaurants and franchises to find biodegradable alternatives to single-uise products.

Now he’s introduced an ordinance to ban plastic straws in Westport. (There are exemptions for disabled people, who need them because other alternatives are not strong enough.) The proposal is making its way through the RTM Environment Committee.

But this is not some quixotic quest. Colabella has partnered with 4 other longtime Westporters, in what they call the Plastic Pollution Project.

Wendy Goldwyn Batteau was inspired by her first boss — the editor of Silent Spring — to co-found Sierra Club Books. She’s worked for decades as an award-winning editor/executive at major publishers, collaborating with Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, Audubon and the Ocean Alliance.

Liz Milwe — in “real life,” a choreographer and dance filmmaker — has a long history of environmental activism. Ten years ago as an RTM member, she helped Westport become the first town east of the Mississippi to ban plastic bags. She’s won awards from the US Environmental Agency and Westport’s Green Task Force.

Ashley Moran is a Saugatuck Elementary School teacher. A founding member of Nurturing Minds in Africa — a non-profit helping educate poor and at-risk girls in Tanzania — she believe that education leads to meaningful change.

Greg Naughton — a filmmaker and producer — grew up in Westport and Weston, in a family of performers. His 9-year-old son is in Moran’s class. Excited by what he learned about plastic straws, composting and the environment, the boy got his dad involved in the cause.

Naughton is also a founding member of the Sweet Remains. The indie folk-rock band has over 35 million Spotify streams.

Which is why and how the Sweet Remains are playing a benefit concert, to raise funds for the Plastic Pollution Project.

The event is Friday, January 4 (Fairfield Theatre Company, 7 p.m.). It starts with a reception in the lobby/art gallery, featuring presentations about plastic problems from P3 members, Westport students and others. The Sweet Remains and P3 founders will be on hand to chat.

It should be a “sweet” concert. And one that helps ensure — in a small but meaningful way — that plastic no longer “remains” on our land and in our seas, centuries after all the rest of us are gone.

(For tickets and more information on the concert, click here.) 

Friday Flashback #120

Last week’s demolition of the old Positano’s restaurant — remembered by real old-time Westporters as its earlier incarnation, Café de la Plage — evoked a welter of emotions.

It also revived memories of Allen’s Clam House, the other waterfront restaurant in the otherwise residential  neighborhood.

Allen’s was right around the corner, on Sherwood Mill Pond. Built in 1890 by Captain Walter Allen, customers flocked there for seafood — and views — from as far as New York.

Allen’s Clam House, in the 1940s.

It was the go-to place for generations of celebrations — proms, anniversaries, holidays, you name it.

An aerial view of Allen’s Clam House, on the Sherwood Mill Pond. (Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

In 1999, the restaurant and surrounding .83-acre property was up for sale. To protect it from the developers, the town bought it for $1.2 million. Private donations — including $50,000 each from Paul Newman and Harvey Weinstein — defrayed part of the cost.

The restaurant was torn down a few years later. Today — thanks to efforts of Sherry Jagerson, and a group of dedicated volunteers — the land is known as the Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve.

It’s one of Westport’s hidden-in-plain-sight gems. Of course, you can’t buy clams there any more.

But you can bring your own, and have a very fine picnic indeed.

Captain Allen and his wife Lida, in front of the clam house.

Adios, Chipotle

First there were dos.

Soon there will be cero.

Chipotle — the design-your-own burritos, tacos and bowls place in Compo Acres Shopping Center — will close next week.

An employee confirmed the news. The manager was not available for comment.

Chipotle follows Qdoba out of town. The similar fast-casual Mexican spot at the entrance to Playhouse Square closed in June.

Don’t worry. There are still over 2,400 Chipotles around the globe. And nearly 800 Qdobas.

Don’t want to travel far for Mexican fare?

Right here in Westport you’ve got your choice of Bartaco, Rio Bravo, Señor Salsa, Border Grille and Cuatro Hermanos.

And — of course — the granddaddy of them all: Viva Zapata.

It’s been around, I think, since Emiliano Zapata himself led the Mexican Revolution.

Remembering Sue Fine

Sue Fine — founder and owner of Soup’s On, the popular Main Street gathering spot — died last month in November. She was 82.

Carole Sue Coulon was born in Boston, and grew up in the Hotel Vendome. She worked there after school and during summers, learning the “people skills, guts and stamina” that helped her when she opened Soup’s On — a “country kitchen” — in 1978.

Sue’s son Peter recalls watching proudly as his mother “moved heaven and earth” to serve grateful customers wonderful dishes, made with fresh, local ingredients.

Peter Fine and his mother Sue

There was always something delicious cooking at home too, he says. Friends often came around for “the food and the fun.”

At the time he craved spaghetti and meatballs — basic food his friends’ mothers made. But as he grew up, he says, “I realized how lucky I was to have someone instill the passion of good food in me.”

His mother was “a courageous and tireless entrepreneur, and a constant body in motion. The outpouring of love and stories that have flown freely since her passing have centered on her indomitable positive spirit, style and grace, along with her trademark ever-present smile and sense of humor.”

Sue Fine

Sue and her late husband David lived in Westport and Weston, and loved New England, particularly Boston and Nantucket. They were original investors and active part ownwers in Nantucket’s famed 21 Federal restaurant. Sue created and operated 21 Federal Specialties, offering takeout food for vacationers.

She also obtained her realtor’s license, and was a resource for anyone wishing to buy or rent on the island.

Sue and David moved to Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida in 2004.

“Sue was a tenacious believer that hard work, grit and gumption would get you far, and passed those traits on to her children,” her obituary says.

Peter — a restaurateur and real estate consultant — recently opened Milestone in Georgetown, Connecticut. Sue was a proud investor.

Peter Fine and his mother Sue, outside his new restaurant Milestone. The photo was taken last summer.

Sue’s son Bill is president and general manager of WCVB-TV, Channel 5 Boston. Her daughter Kim is a mentor and teacher at Firewood Academy in Homer, Alaska.

Sue is also survived by 7 grandchildren, and her dog Buster.

She will be buried with her husband privately at sea, off the coast of their beloved Nantucket, this summer.

Donations may be made in Sue Fine’s name to The Home for Little Wanderers — an organization she first supported as a child — which provides services for at-risk children in Eastern Massachusetts. Click here, or mail to 10 Guest Street, Boston, MA 02135.

Techno Claus Comes To Town. Wait — He Already Lives Here!

One of the highlights of the holiday season — far better than fruitcake, much less stressful than holiday parties — is Techno Claus.

That’s “CBS Sunday Morning”‘s annual present to viewers. “Santa” — who for some reason has a New York-ish accent — offers viewers a whimsically rhyming musical look into some of the season’s more intriguing high-ish tech items.

It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that Techno Claus is really David Pogue.

His clever patter and fun piano playing are no surprise. The nationally known tech writer/journalist/author/TV star majored in music at Yale, then spent his first 10 years after graduation working in New York, with a theatrical agency, and as a conductor and arranger on Broadway.

Pogue is also a longtime Westporter. Yesterday’s gift to viewers had a decidedly local flavor.

Nearly all of the scenes were filmed at his house: inside, in front and out back.

The only other locale was Granola Bar. That was for a segment on a reusable straw. Okay, it’s not exactly high tech — but it is important.

Click below to see Pogue’s Santa’s take on a speaker with scents; a spy camera for pets (it dispenses treats too); a keyboard for phones, and a wallet with tracker.

Ho ho ho!

Photo Challenge #206

Pay phones are going the way of CBs and 8-track tapes.

But if you need one, there are still a few places in Westport to go.

One is the library. Another is Sherwood Diner.

A third — and the one pictured in last week’s Photo Challenge — is McDonald’s. (Click here to see.)

I don’t know if it was the same phone that was there in the restaurant’s original incarnation: Big Top.

But I do know this: The burgers sure have gone downhill since then.

Congratulations to Bill Boyd — a Staples High School Class of 1966 grad, who must remember the Big Top — for being the first with the correct answer.

He was followed by Jonathan McClure, who was not ashamed to admit he knew the answer because he occasionally eats at McDonald’s.

This week’s Photo Challenge is below. If you know where in Westport you’d find it, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

 

Pics Of The Day #597

The old Positano’s — and before that, Cafe de la Plage, other restaurants and (way back in the day) grocery stores — was demolished today. Soon, a 4-bedroom home will take its place.

The view from just off Hillspoint Road … (Photo/Chris Tait)

… and from Old Mill Beach. (Photo/Robin Tauck)

Former Positano’s Finally Goes Down

Last month — when “06880” reported that Peter Nisenson flood-proofed, refurbished and saved 201 Main Street, the “little red house” on the Saugatuck River that had been slated for demolition — readers rejoiced.

Now Nisenson and his PEN Building Company are about to start work on another property. It’s a new structure — but it sits on one of the most visible corners in Westport.

For decades, 233 Hillspoint Road has been the site of commercial ventures, in the heart of the Old Mill residential neighborhood. First a grocery store, the 2-story building later housed restaurants, including Cafe de la Plage and Positano’s.

This morning, it became Westport’s latest teardown.

The view from Old Mill Beach, as the former Positano’s and Cafe de la Plage was demolished this morning. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Over the next year, Nisenson will build a new home there. He and the owner have spent a couple of years planning how best to utilize the awkward-shaped lot — while maintaining the neighborhood character, and views admired by all Westporters.

“It’s a very public property,” Nisenson notes. “It was important to create something that blends in.”

The new house will be pushed back from the road. A dense buffer zone with native plants will provide privacy in back for the owners. But it’s on a public beach. The property ends where the sand begins — so Old Mill will remain the same as it’s always been.

The sidewalk in front will remain too.

The former restaurant has been vacant for nearly 4 years. Neighbors — and everyone else who loves the beach area — hope that Nisenson’s new project will be as well received as his Little Red House.

323 Closes

323 — the Main Street restaurant opposite Coffee An’ — closed suddenly today.

Employees arriving for work were given no notice. Neither were musicians who had been booked for upcoming gigs.

323 was known for live music. Last month, Aztec Two-Step played there.

Last summer, 323 made headlines when the bar featured a drink called the Tuskegee Experiment. There was no connection at all between the cocktail, and the shameful 40-year period in American history when US Public Health officials tracked the progression of untreated syphilis in black men.

A representative of the landlord said, “There is lots of interest in this property. Something will open here soon.”

In 2013, this sign said that 323 restaurant was coming soon. Five years later, it closed.

(Hat tip: Ellen Naftalin)