Category Archives: Saugatuck

Final Indulgence By Mersene

Alert “06880” readers know that Mersene* is one of my favorite people in the world.

And her store —Indulge by Mersene — is one of the best on the planet.

It’s fun. It’s funky. It’s totally Mersene.

Yet all good things must end. Today, the popular, vivacious, beloved unofficial mayor of Railroad Place announces she’s closing. She writes:

In a few weeks, the corner by the train station will be a little less lively.

There will be one less place to buy pillows, ceramics, plants, chocolates, pasta, copperware, cutting boards, hand towels and anything else you could want — all stashed in a reusable willow basket or hatbox, then tied together with ribbons, bows and twine that looks so lovely you hate to unwrap it.

Mersene has been unfailingly generous and supportive — to “06880” (the blog) and 06880 (the community).

Her closing leaves a hole in our community, and our hearts. Happily, she’ll still be here — online, and in pop-up shops.

So we’ll keep indulging, the unique Mersene way.

*Like Cher, Madonna and Divine, she needs only one name.

Mersene, with a small sampling of her many great items.

Photo Challenge #268

Last week’s Photo Challenge rang a bell with many readers.

Ed Simek’s image showed the large bell that sits outside the Saugatuck fire station — officially, it’s “Saugatuck Hose Company Engine Company 4” — on Riverside Avenue. (Click here to see.)

The bell is a favorite with kids who wander over from nearby Saugatuck Sweets. They also enjoy the restored 1940s-era fire truck — and the friendly, welcoming vibe from all the firefighters there.

Of course, sometimes they have to leave the station on a call. That’s why — as tempting as it is to inch forward — you should never block the road in front of the bell.

Andrew Colabella, Fred Cantor, Diane Silfen, Matt Murray, Wendy Cusick, Tom Risch, Mary Ann Batsell, Amy Schneider and Rick Benson all knew the answer to this very easy Photo Challenge.

Tomorrow is Presidents Day. (Or Presidents’ Day — the jury is out on that apostrophe.)

In its* honor, we present Anne Bernier’s Photo Challenge. Way back in the day, George Washington** really did sleep here. This plaque commemorates his visit.

(Photo/Anne Bernier)

So today’s Photo Challenge is: Where in Westport would you find Marvin Tavern today?

And if you’d like to get into the weeds, answer this one too: Why doesn’t the plaque call it Marvin’s Tavern?

*Not, for some reason, it’s.

** Whose February 22 birthday has been co-opted as a federal holiday, by all 44 presidents who followed him.

Mystic Market: Meet Chef Ashley

Most soup/salad/sandwich/prepared food shops don’t have executive chefs.

Then again, most of those places are not Mystic Market.

The Saugatuck spot — in the former Blu Parrot/ Jasmine/Arrow restaurant building, opposite the railroad station parking lot — just hired someone new for that position.

Ashley Boucaud brings an intriguing resume to her new gig. She grew up in both Manhattan and Trinidad & Tobago. When she started her photojournalism major at New York University, she was not interested in cooking. It was “a chore,” she says.

But during college she began cooking for friends. Then she hosted dinner parties.

Ashley’s friends loved her food, and encouraged her to do more.

She did. After a chance meeting with a student at Johnson & Wales University, she applied to — and was accepted at — the famed culinary school.

Four years in Providence turned into 8. Ashley loved the city’s robust food scene, and worked at restaurants there like Amsterdam and Parkside.

Jobs at Stamford’s Westin Hotel and UBS came next. In 2005 she started a private business. Ashley spent the past 14 years catering dinners and private parties.

Recently, Cecily Gans — Ashley’s former Johnson & Wales roommate, now a highly respected culinary arts instructor at Staples High School — told her that Mystic Market needed a new executive chef.

Cecily Gans (left) and Ashley Boucaud.

Ashley realized quickly that the entire team shared her passion for food. And Mystic Market’s mission — “cooking for good people” — is exactly what she’d been doing all along.

As executive chef she creates menus, oversees the staff, and ensures quality.

Since beginning there, Ashley has brought a bit of her West Indian background to Westport. “Big on seasoning,” she added fresh herbs and spices to recipes. She introduced vegan dishes with a bit of curry. New soups like Korean beef have sold out.

She’s particularly proud of “Chef Ashley’s braised short ribs.”

“I’m happy to come to work,” she says. “The hours are long. But I love it here. We have an amazing staff, and a great team.”

Ashley Boucaud (4th from right), and her Mystic Market team. Westport general manager David Griswold Jr. is at far left.

Looking ahead, Ashley hopes to expand the catering menu.

She’s also impressed with the many nationalities she’s met in Westport. “This is a diverse town,” she says. “I learn a lot from everyone. I want to bring what I learn to Mystic Market.”

(Mystic Market is now open at 7 a.m. Hot foods have proven very popular.)

 

Pic Of The Day #1019

Finishing the retrofit on the Saugatuck River Metro-North bridge

Pic Of The Day #1012

Fire truck on the Cribari Bridge (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pic Of The Day #1004

Sunset over Saugatuck (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Unsung Heroes #131

The other day, Saugatuck Rowing Club marketing director Diana Kuen noticed there are a lot of kids in the youth program — but very few teachers.

She figured one reason might be cost.

That’s an easy solve. So now the Riverside Avenue facility — which includes a state-of-the-art fitness center — offers half-price off memberships.

But Kuen did not stop there. She realized there are other town employees to honor too. So the Saugatuck Rowing Club offer is extended to Westport police officers, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders.

Best of all: This is not a one-shot, take-advantage-of-the-January-slump kind of deal. It’s good all the time, all year long.

The Saugatuck Rowing Club wins plenty of trophies on the water. Now they’re winners on land too.

Saugatuck Rowing Club (Drone photo/Ward French)

Pic Of The Day #1000

Nearly 3 years ago — on April 17, 2017 — “06880” introduced a new feature: Pic of the Day.

Here’s what I wrote:

Let’s give a hearty welcome to the latest member of our online community: the Pic of the Day.

Every night around 9 p.m., I’ll send out an image of Westport. The photos will be recognizable and relatable. Some will be artistic; others whimsical or surprising. One might have cool angles or shapes; the next might make you look at a familiar scene in a different way.

All will be cool. None will be more than a few days old.

There won’t be any text, beyond a caption and photo credit. The plan is to provide a quick snapshot of Westport for you, before bed (or first thing in the morning). [NOTE: That rule is not hard and fast. Sometimes there is text. Like today.]

Any image anywhere in town is fair game. However, I’ll stay away from sunsets. That’s WestportNow’s specialty! [NOTE: I break that rule occasionally too!]

Lynn U. Miller — Westport native, longtime friend and very talented photographer — will provide many of the shots. (She also came up with the superbly punning “Pic of the Day” name.)

But I’ll also rely on a stable of other fine photographers, like John Videler, Amy Schneider and Katherine Bruan.

And you. If you’ve got a photo you think would work for this feature, send it along: dwoog@optonline.net.

So here — without further ado — is “06880”‘s very first Pic of the Day. Enjoy!

The very first Pic of the Day: behind the Black Duck, on the Saugatuck River (Photo copyright Lynn U. Miller)

New Parking Spots Ease Railroad Station Crunch

It’s easy to commute on auto-pilot. But over the past few months, alert commuters have noticed activity at the west end of the Greens Farms railroad station.

Workers cleared brush, and removed old equipment. “06880” reader Scott Smith figured they were creating a staging area for the forthcoming replacement of the Beachside Avenue bridge.

But now there are new, striped spaces. The addition to the lot looks permanent.

New parking spaces at the Greens Farms railroad station.

It is.

Police chief Foti Koskinas — whose department oversees railroad parking operations and facilities — says that while part of that area will indeed be staging. the town has added 54 new parking spots there. Twenty-four are for permit holders; 30 are for daily parkers.

Koskinas says the town took advantage of the upcoming bridge work to add to their long-term lease with the state.

The new parking spaces will be available later this coming week. For safety reasons, the Police Department is waiting until permanent lights are installed.

Another angle showing the new spots. This view is looking east. (Photos/Scott Smith)

Greens Farms is not the only rail station in town with added parking. Koskinas says that 17 new permit-only spots have been added on Franklin Street, near Lot 7 (the one just north of the I-95 overpass) and Lot 3 (the big lot on Ferry Lane, south of the tracks).

Feedback from commuters has been great, Koskinas says. And that’s just from those who were alert enough to notice them.

(Click here for a map of the all parking lots at the Saugatuck train station.)

Pic Of The Day #999

Saugatuck River, seen from the Saugatuck Rowing Club (Photo/Nathalie Jacob)