Category Archives: Saugatuck

[OPINION] Saugatuck Resident Thanks P&Z For Tesla Response

Last night, the Planning & Zoning Commission heard public comment on a text amendment to allow an electric car service center — and possibly a dealership — on Saugatuck Avenue.

Most of the public was not in favor of the plan. The P&Z heard concerns loud and clear. They’ll revisit the proposal on July 6.

Opponents of the plan — which involves Tesla — took heart from the meeting. Saugatuck resident and “06880” reader Marilyn Harding writes:

Last night the residents of Saugatuck did a brilliant job — through strategies that encompassed fact-based data, tell-tale photographs and their passion of purpose— that saved Saugatuck from a future of more traffic chaos, more misuse of land, and more reckless change to a historic community. Their presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission fully demonstrates how local communities can work together successfully to preserve the town of Westport.

20 Saugatuck Avenue — the site where Tesla hoped to build a service facility.

The P & Z deserves bunches of kudos for their sound judgment in steering an electric car company away from the already overcrowded streets of Saugatuck, but did embrace the innovative brand.

P &Z members extended welcoming invitations to Tesla, alerting them to locations on the Post Road where the required commercial zoning is permitted for car dealers.

The P & Z took yet another step forward, acknowledging the value of their predecessors’ work when town regulations were written and designed to safeguard Westport’s authenticity as a historic New England town.

Congratulations to the Saugatuck residents, members of the P & Z, and to the wonderful, creative Westporters who have gone before us!

Photo Challenge #128

Only 3 readers knew that the old-fashioned horn featured in last week’s photo challenge is perched atop the Saugatuck fire station.

But Bill Kiedaisch, Peter Hirst and David Eason knew it because, like many others who grew up here back in the day, the horn was an important part of their lives.

It signaled noon, and 5 p.m.

And whenever there was a fire, it summoned volunteers to the scene. (If you knew the code, you could watch the blaze too.)

Few people notice the horn anymore. But I hope it stays on top of the firehouse forever. (Click here for the photo, and all the comments.)

It’s not hard to figure out what this week’s photo shows:

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

The challenge is figuring out where this great playground can be found.

If you know, click “Comments” below.

Bistro Du Soleil Shines On Saugatuck

The latest addition to Westport’s dining scene comes with plenty of ready-made fans.

Bistro du Soleil has opened on Riverside Avenue, across from Minute Men Cleaners — between the Black Duck and the train station.

Owner Maria Munoz del Castillo earned raves for Rincón Taqueria in Norwalk. She cut her teeth at an earlier Bistro du Soleil, also in Norwalk, owned by her parents, Soledad and Bernardo Munoz del Castillo.

Bernardo Munoz del Castillo offers escargots.

That Soleil is now closed, but Bernardo’s wizardry is strongly felt in Saugatuck. A craftsman as well as a restaurateur, he lovingly made every table — including the outdoor seating — as well as the handsome wooden bar. (He’s also a playwright and poet.)

Bernardo hand-crafted this handsome wooden bar.

Soledad and Bernardo came to the U.S. from Chile in the 1980s. Trained as a French chef, she made a name for herself here. In addition to restaurants, Soledad had a catering business — and was a favorite at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

The new Soleil’s menu is Mediterranean, with French flair. Dinners include salmon, seafood bouillabaisse, grilled rack of lamb, marinated grilled skirt steak, Muscovy duck breast — and a parrillada with chorizos, skirt steak, pork chops, half chicken, tomato, onion, bell pepper BBQ and cilantro chimichurri that serves 3-4.

As politicians, consultants, bridge engineers and ordinary Westporters debate the future of Saugatuck, here’s a suggestion: Do it over a meal at Bistro du Soleil.

Westport 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (with scissors) joined Munoz del Castillo family members and friends at last night’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony for Bistro du Soleil.

Pic Of The Day #51

Rowers underneath the William Cribari (Bridge Street) bridge. (Photo/Dave Dellinger)

Pic Of The Day #50

Early morning sky over Saugatuck (Photo/Dave Curtis)

Pic Of The Day #47

Cruising on the Saugatuck — taken from the railroad walkway bridge, looking toward Long Island Sound. (Photo copyright Dave Curtis)

“Saugy Thursdays” Are Here. We’ll Drink To That!

College students are familiar with Thirsty Thursdays. (Very familiar.)

Now, the Boathouse Restaurant at Saugatuck Rowing Club introduces “Saugy Thursdays.”

From 5 to 7 p.m. every Thursday, they feature drinks and small bites.

A DJ kicks things off this week (tomorrow, June 1). On June 8, Greg Wall — the Jazz Rabbi — plays.

Everyone is invited to Saugy Thursdays.

Even college students home for the summer, suffering from Thirsty Thursday withdrawal (21 and over, of course!).

The Boathouse Restaurant introduces Saugy Thursdays, starting this week.

 

Pic Of The Day #41

William Cribari (Bridge Street) Bridge (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Duck! It’s 25 Years Of Karaoke

In 1992, Leigh Henry tried to sell Pete Aitkin a karaoke jukebox.

The Black Duck owner said no.

But he asked Leigh — a 1968 Staples High School grad, with a long and varied music career — if he’d host a karaoke show instead.

Leigh said yes.

Which is why — a quarter century later — the Duck is celebrating 25 years as Westport’s go-to karaoke restaurant/bar.

Leigh is a storied figure in Fairfield County. While still a Staples student, his band — Mandrake Root — opened for the Doors, and Sly and the Family Stone.

Leigh spent 15 years organizing shows, then booked music for clubs and private events. For 3 decades his band Celebration has played weddings and parties. He’s the vocalist in another group — the Leigh Henry Band — and also DJs.

In the early ’90s Leigh was selling karaoke machines, like those in Asia where people pay to sing. But Aitkin thought that if the Duck sponsored karaoke, there should be a host.

Before the opening show, Leigh wondered if anyone would come. He still recalls the first person — a woman named Maureen. She sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

At that moment, Black Duck karaoke took off.

Black Duck karaoke, in the early days.

“Tuesday nights were wall to wall,” Leigh says. He added Mondays too, for 23 years.

Leigh’s karaoke fans like older music — classics. Not a lot of hip hop. The 3 all-time favorites, Leigh thinks, are “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Sweet Caroline.”

The Duck itself plays a huge role in Tuesday karaoke’s long success.

“The vibe is completely comfortable,” Leigh notes. “It’s a great equalizer. There are no pretensions. Bikers, tech guys, yuppies — everyone leaves their attitude at the door, and mucks in together.”

Just another Tuesday at the Duck.

The layout helps too. “There’s a bar where people sit safely. They can engage or not,” Leigh observes. “You can sit at tables. The place is small enough to be intimate, but large enough so there’s a lot of energy.”

Mike “Wolfie” Connors — the popular bartender from Day 1 to 2015 — also played a big role, Leigh says.

Five years ago, the Duck celebrated 20 years of karaoke with a party — and a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Westport’s favorite karaoke spot.

For this 25th, Leigh upped the ante.

Tuesday, June 13 and 20 are “Applause for the Cause” nights. They’re like Relays for Life — except people sing to raise money, rather than walk.

The 1st night is “Only a Pay-Per-Tune”: donate $25 to sing a song.

The 2nd evening is a “Sing-a-thon.” Team leaders who raise $500 earn a 3-tune mini-set. They can perform themselves, or offer their slot to friends.

Leigh’s goal is $10,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Good times never seemed so good.

(To become a team leader, sign up for a song or make a contribution, click here. For more information, email lh@leighhenrymusic.com) 

Brett is one of many Black Duck karaoke stars.

Pic Of The Day #33

Waiting for the train (Photo/Dave Curtis)