Category Archives: Saugatuck

Hot Times At Viva’s

Hot peppers and spicy margaritas are on the menu this Sunday (October 21, 1 to 5 p.m.) at Viva Zapata’s.

That’s not unusual. But the popular Mexican restaurant has added another attraction: 30% of total sales will be donated to the ALS Therapy Development Institute.

It’s Viva’s 2nd annual ALS Pepper Challenge Day. In addition to the drinks (and very hot peppers), participants can buy ALS Pepper Challenge t-shirts, hats and other gear.

Patty Haberstroh

You’ll get a chance to greet the Haberstroh family too. They started Pepper Challenge last Christmas on behalf of Patty, the well-known Westporter who is battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

In less than a year the movement has spread around the globe. Kelly Clarkson, Charles Barkley, Garth Brooks and Jimmy Kimmel are among the thousands of people taking the challenge. They’ve raised over $625,000 toward finding a cure.

Now you can help the ALS Pepper Challenge too. It’s no wonder Viva’s is known as one of Westport’s “hottest” restaurants.

(For more information, click here. For sponsorship and donation opportunities, email chuckhaberstroh@gmail.com.) 

Unsung Hero #70

In the aftermath of last week’s torrential downpour, alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Lee Feldman writes:

Tonight, I left the gym at the Saugatuck Rowing Club to find my car with a dead battery. Though several folks there offered to help, no one had jumper cables.

I decided to walk over to the Bridge Mobil service station on Riverside Avenue. My expectations were low, since I knew the garage was closed.

When I explained the situation to the night attendant, he told me all the mechanics were off duty. But he offered to call the manager, Johnny (I apologize for not knowing his last name.)

Again, I thought he would tell me that couldn’t help until they opened in the morning.

Instead, Johnny showed up a few minutes later with a jumper battery in hand. He drove over to the SRC and got my car started.

Bridge Mobil, on Riverside Avenue.

When we weren’t sure whether it would keep running, he offered to follow me home, in case I needed another jump along the way.

And when we got there, he refused to accept any payment. He just advised me to have the alternator on my car checked.

With all the anger and ugliness that seems pervasive these days, people like Johnny are a reminder of our better selves. I hope you can recognize him as an Unsung Hero. I intend to patronize his business, and encourage others to do the same.

Done — with joy and gratitude!

TEA Talk, Otocast Blend Art And Technology

Before he became a famous New York Times/CBS/Yahoo/PBS technology expert, David Pogue was a musical theater geek. Fun facts: His Yale degree is in music, and he spent his early year conducting and arranging Broadway musicals.

David Pogue

So it didn’t take Einstein to enlist Pogue — a Westport resident — as moderator of this Sunday’s TEA (Thinkers, Educators, Artists) Talk (October 21, 2 p.m., Town Hall).

Nor was it a quantum leap to design a theme (“The Arts Go Viral!”) or find speakers like Jerry Goehring, (producer of the off-Broadway musical “Be More Chill,” which became a hit on viral media), and pianist/arts educator/  Westporter Frederic Chiu to dive into the pros and cons of how technology affects art (and vice versa).

But it is a stroke of genius that Sunday marks the official launch of Otocast. It’s a mobile tour app that lets any Westporter or visitor explore our town’s long arts, cultural and historic sites.

Like Sunday’s TEA Talk, Otocast is a project of the Westport Arts Advisory Committee. First unveiled in a soft launch at this summer’s Arts Festival, it’s now ready for prime time.

Otocast — available free for iPhones or Androids — includes audio, photos and info on a wide range of interesting sites. Location-based, it shows users whatever is closest to where they are.

Three separate “guides” are already live.

“Downtown Westport” offers details on Town Hall, Veterans Green, the Tunnel Vision arts installation, Westport Historical Society, Main Street, Saugatuck River, Jesup Green, the library, Levitt Pavilion, Westport Woman’s Club, Westport Country Playhouse and more.

“Our Creative Community” provides information on theater, film, non-profit organizations, schools and many other groups.

“From Saugatuck to Riverside” covers Westport’s original center, all the way to the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

Westport artist Robert Lambdin’s “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” is the kind of artwork that can be seen — and heard about — on Otocast.

The app blends audio commentary (from well-known voices like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, natives like Sam Gault and others) with maps, photos and artwork.

It draws extensively on Westport Public Art Collections. Users learn, for example, of Howard Munce’s Remarkable Book Shop painting, and one of the old Westlake restaurant. They hear about — and see — art at Town Hall, Fire Department headquarters, the Parks & Recreation office, and of course Westport schools.

They learn about the history of the Doughboy statue on Veterans Green, and the nearby Honor Roll — a painting of which hangs in 1st Selectman Jim Marpe’s office.

Stevan Dohanos’ “Honor Roll” painting has a place of honor in Town Hall. Now it’s on Otocast too.

They also watch a video of Sally’s Place — the beloved record shop — and see changing views of Main Street. They listen to Charles Reid talk about Famous Artists School.

Two more Otocast guides are in the works: one on Westport’s Natural Beauty (Compo Beach, mini-parks, Earthplace, the Saugatuck River, with compelling artwork from the 1930s through now), and one focused exclusively on the WESTPac collection.

Otocast is the perfect app for residents and visitors to tour Westport. Of course, you can also download it and enjoy it in the comfort of your home.

It’s great too for former Westporters, relatives who live elsewhere, and anyone anywhere in the world who wants to visit us virtually.

In other words, Otocast is a superb mix of art and technology. Just like Sunday’s TEA Talk.

(For more information on the TEA Talk, click here. To download the app, search for Otocast on the App Store or Google Play.)

Ade’s Vanishing Saugatuck

The 9-foot bulletin board in the lobby of the Westport Senior Center is available for 1 month, to any artist or arts group that wants to showcase their work.

October is Ade Van Duyn’s turn.

Ade Van Duyn, with her exhibit at the Senior Center.

A painter, she lived with her husband and 4 children on Hillspoint Road. She shopped at Max’s Art Supplies, Klein’s, the Remarkable Book Shop and Greenberg’s. She enjoyed the Ice Cream Parlor too.

Ade always loved Saugatuck. It felt intimate and friendly — like an old-fashioned village.

Driving up and down Saugatuck Avenue near I-95 Exit 17, she never questioned its lack of a sidewalk, driveways or access to homes.

Recently, while looking for an interesting subject to paint, she was fascinated by the appearance of some of the properties.

But, Ade says, her fascination took on a darker tone.

She painted a concrete wall with a door cemented shut.

A door sealed shut …

A house on a hill with “endless stairs to an invisible entrance.” An empty store disappearing into the hillside.

… and stairs to nowhere.

“My paintings turned into a message: These places are the ugly symbols of a vanishing community,” she says.

And, she asks, “Should we preserve those that are still whole, alive and healthy — those that are still there?”

Ron Provenzano’s Promise

Back in 2009, Ron Provenzano opened a barber shop across from the train station. It featured wooden floors, an old-fashioned cash register, a striped barber’s pole — and actual “shaves.”

A few years ago, he moved to 190 Main Street. Settling into the famed Sally’s Place record shop, he kept that old-fashioned feel and his many loyal customers. He added plenty of new ones too.

Earlier today, a guy walked inside. He held a business card from the old Railroad Place spot. On the back, the barber had scrawled “One free haircut.”

The man had never redeemed it — never been to Ron’s, in fact.

Was it still good?

“Of course!” he said.

It took a decade. But today, Ron Provenzano made a customer for life.

Ron Provenzano, and the 10-year-old business card.

Of Course: Restaurant Week Returns

After a few years of meh, Westport’s dining scene has roared back.

So here’s some food for thought.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s “Restaurant Week” starts this Sunday (September 30). Actually, it’s 2 weeks — all the way through October 14.

Throughout the event, 25 restaurants — from Saugatuck to Southport — offer prix fixe meals. They range from $15 to $25 for lunch, $25 to $40 for dinner, $15 and up for brunch.

New this year: The Naan.

This is a perfect chance to head to new spots. Then visit an older one you’ve always wanted to try.

And after that, hit up an old standby.

On October 15, you can head to the Y.

Participating restaurants:

  • 190 Main
  • Amis
  • Boathouse
  • DaPietro’s
  • Gray Goose
  • Harvest
  • Julian’s
  • Le Penguin
  • Matsu Sushi
  • Naan
  • Pane e Bene
  • Pearl
  • Positano’s
  • Rio Bravo
  • Rive Bistro
  • Rizzuto’s
  • Sakura
  • Spotted Horse
  • Tarantino
  • Tarry Lodge
  • Tavern on Main
  • Terrain Garden Cafe
  • Tutti”s
  • Via Sforza

For more details, click here

Westport’s Newest Study: “Main To Train”

I’ve never gotten a press release from the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.

Actually, I’ve never even heard of them.

But they’ve got a website. A logo.

And this news:

The Town of Westport is hosting a public information session on Monday, October 1 (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) to introduce the Westport “Main to Train” Study.

The study will “identify improvements to vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian safety and circulation on Post Road East and Riverside Avenue. This will create better connections between the commercial center of town and the Saugatuck train station, and promote non-motorized transportation choices.”

Post Road and Riverside Avenue. The “Main to Train” includes the often-gridlocked intersection.

The meeting — one of 5 scheduled for the course of the study — will “provide participants with an opportunity to learn about the study’s purpose, schedule, and scope, and to share their observations, concerns and ideas with the project team.”

For more information, click here for the Westport Main to Train website. Or contact WestCOG associate planner Nicole Sullivan: nsullivan@westcog.org.

Friday Flashback #107

Word on the street — Charles Street — is that Mystic Market opens next month.

Some folks will describe it as the old Blu Parrot spot. Others — with longer memories — will say it’s where Jasmine was.

But real old-timers know it — and will never forget — the site as the beloved Arrow restaurant.

For a couple of decades — after its move from the nearby Saugatuck Avenue/Franklin Street location that gave it its name — the Arrow defined the neighborhood.

And made its mark on all of Westport.

Here’s a look back, at the way we all were.

Owner Frank Nistico

Owner Tom Nistico, back in the day.

Lou Nistico, son of the founders of the Arrow.

FRIDAY FLASHBACK FUN FOLLOW-UP: Last week’s Friday Flashback featured a 1946 photo of Marie Corridon on the Longshore high diving board. 

It was a great shot (click here to see). Now comes word — via alert “06880” reader Chris Corridon — that Maria was not your casual, Sunday diver.

Turns out her family lived in Norwalk, and were members of Longshore. She learned to swim at the then-private club — and went on to win a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics in London!

Marie was the lead swimmer for the champion, Olympic record-setting US team in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

She is a member of the swimming Hall of Fame. Her 7 children all participated in Division I athletics. The girls all swam, and are active Masters swimming record holders. One — Sheila Stolarski — is a Weston resident. Several of her grandchildren swim competitively too, in high school and college.

Who knew? Thankfully, Chris Corridon does!

Pic Of The Day #512

Saugatuck River view (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Slice Is Nice This Saturday

Seven years ago, the 1st “Slice of Saugatuck” street festival drew 27 participants, and a few hundred people.

For this Saturday’s event (September 8, 2 to 5 p.m.), 56 establishments have signed on. A crowd of more than 2,000 is expected to stroll the streets, nibble food, listen to live music at 7 venues, and enjoy kid and family activities like an obstacle course, bouncy houses and Maker Faire area.

The list of attractions includes over 30 restaurants. They’ll put tables outside, open their doors, then let the fun begin.

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place — and everywhere else — Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

Slice of Saugatuck also boasts 2 beer gardens with wine, plus specialty drinks at many venues. After the festival, a Saugatuck Happy Hour keeps the celebration going at most restaurants and bars.

Musicians include the Mill River Band, Silver Steel, the 5 O’Clocks and School of Rock. there are dance and taekwando demonstrations too.

More than 20 stores and businesses participate as well. Newcomers this year include Mystic Market, Coldwell Banker and Effi’s Salon.

The “Slice” name comes from the street fair’s shape. Ranging from Riverside Avenue on one side and Saugatuck Avenue on the other, narrowing to Railroad Place, it resembles a pizza slice.

Of course, for many years Saugatuck was a heavily Italian neighborhood. There are still plenty of premier pasta-and-pizza places there — along with restaurants specializing in seafood, steaks, Mexican and Thai cuisine and more.

But you know that already. Saugatuck is a favorite destination for Westporters, and everyone else in Fairfield County.

It’s a little slice of heaven, right here in town.

(Tickets for the Slice of Saugatuck — $15 per adult; 2 for $25; children under 13, $5 — go on sale on-site at 1:45 p.m. the day of the event; cash only. Proceeds help fund the Gillespie Center’s food pantry. The Slice is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. For more information, including a map and list of participants, click here.)