Category Archives: Saugatuck

We’re All Immigrants. Westport Historical Society Wants To Know How We Got Here.

We may not realize it. But Westport — like America — is a land of immigrants.

From the Bankside Farmers of 1648 to the Irish in the mid-1800s and the Italians a few decades later, then to the many international executives and their families we’ve welcomed recently, our town has served as more than just a home.

Whether for economic or education opportunity, or religious freedom — and yes, we are very different from neighboring suburbs when it comes to the latter — Westport has promised freedom, prosperity and the pursuit of happiness to many, for many years.

In January, the Westport Historical Society installs a new exhibit: “Liberty to Set Down: Migrants and Immigrants in Westport.”

In the 1920s — when Italian immigrants made Saugatuck a thriving community — Esposito’s gas station stood on Charles Street. Today it’s Tarry Lodge.

To make the new exhibit work, the WHS needs your help.

You can:

  • Share your family’s immigration story. Whether your people settled here in the 1700s or you arrived just last week, tell how they or you came to Westport.
  • Loan artifacts or photos that represent your family heritage. They’ll be displayed as part of the exhibit.
  • Participate in a video oral history project. Describe a highlight of your or your family’s story, as part of an online exhibit that will live on the WHS website.

The exhibit runs from January through June. It launches in conjunction with the Westport Library’s WestportREADS book selection. “Exit West” follows the plight of a couple forced to flee their war-torn homeland.

To participate in the Historical  Society’s exhibit, email info@westporthistory.org, or contact them via Facebook or Instagram (@westporthistory).

Tailor Meets Taylor

Ryan Meserole owns a great business on Railroad Place.

Suited.co — recently rebranded as Quentin Row — is a men’s custom clothing shop. Directly opposite the train station, Ryan makes commuters (and many other folks) look and feel great.

A couple of miles away, Michael Connors has a thriving business too. Taylor Place — named for its location, between the library and Tiffany — is a consignment boutique, with an ever-changing treasure trove of intriguing items.

We often think of Saugatuck and downtown merchants as competitors. But Ryan and Michael forged a connection that’s a model for small local merchants, wherever they are in town.

Not long ago, Ryan wandered into Michael’s shop. He wanted some vintage pieces for his window display.

Michael already knew of Ryan from “06880.” The consignment owner asked the custom suit guy a few questions about marketing. Ryan helped re-build Michael’s website, and gave advice on how to leverage social media.

Michael — who has a wonderfully artistic eye — helped Ryan redecorate his storefront. He gave Ryan some sharp-looking furniture.

There’s now green ivy on the bricks, a new sign and alluring windows. Soon, Ryan will add a barber, stylists and shoeshine in the back, ramping up the men’s style vibe.

Quentin Row is going all out to be a great neighbor. Starting this Saturday, Ryan is opening up some of his newly renovated space as a holiday pop-up. For example, Lynn Reale of Gypsy Bleu Jewels will showcase her line of men’s beaded bracelets.

Artisans, craftsmen and other cool people interested in exhibiting at Quentin Row should email Ryan@suited.co.

Quentin Row also offers a Black Friday special (November 23 to 26): Buy one, get 50% off the second.

Michael and Ryan share a passion for Westport’s small businesses. Wherever they’re located in town, the 2 owners don’t want them to leave.

“The Chamber of Commerce helps where it can,” Ryan notes. “But 1-on-1 connections like this — sharing talents, helping each other — can really help revitalize Main Street, the rest of downtown, and Saugatuck.”

A vintage piece from Taylor Place, now on display at Quentin Row.

The idea is spreading. Ryan says that other stores on the block — like The Flat next door — are also freshening up their looks.

“If you don’t evolve, you die,” he notes. “We have to make sure that people enjoy shopping local.”

“No one wants to see a store like ours, or Michael’s — or Savvy + Grace, The Brownstone or Indulge by Mersene — go out. We all need to work together. And we’re having a great time doing it.”

The holiday season is here. Our local merchants work hard to draw shoppers in.

Now, they’re working together — to sew together our town.

Pics Of The Day #566

Among her many activities, Diana Kuen is the rowing coach for a group of breast cancer survivors. A couple of days ago, the “Saugatuck SurvivOARS” held their final water practice of the season, before winterizing their boats.

Amy Bauer stroked the boat for the first time — then headed off for her 5th chemo treatment.

This spring, the Survivors head to their first regatta: Row for the Cure, in Poughkeepsie, New York. Another one will follow in Washington, DC. Good luck to these remarkable women!

(Photos/Diana Kuen)

BREAKING NEWS: Black Duck Lives!

This was just posted on the Black Duck’s Facebook page!

We are beyond pleased to announce that after many days of discussions with our creditors, landlord, and investors, the Duck has been able to secure a financial package which will allow us to continue operations (hopefully for the next 40 years!).

The outpouring of support from our loyal patrons over the past few days has been deeply moving and gratifying, and we sincerely thank you. Like Phoenix, the Duck has risen from the ashes!

To celebrate, please join us this Sunday (November 4), for all day happy hour prices.

(Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

Just another Tuesday at the Duck. The good times continue!

 

 

Beached!

Chipper B has a new resting spot.

Last weekend’s nor’easter blew the abandoned vessel closer to Saugatuck Shores.

At low tide, this is what it looks like.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

[UPDATE] Black Duck Employees’ GoFundMe Page Shuts Down

NOTE: The GoFundMe page referenced below has been shut down. A note says “No longer accepting donations.”

———————————————-

Yesterday’s announcement was stunning: The Black Duck will close on Sunday.

No reason was given. Just like that — poof! — Westport’s iconic burger-and-bar joint will be gone.

Earlier today though, a GoFundMe page appeared.

Posted by “The Black Duck team” — described as “the remaining few long-time employees” — it offers a glimmer of hope. The goal is to raise $100,000, to keep the beloved barge restaurant open.

The crowdfunding plea reads:

The Black Duck Cafe, the last of “Old Westport,” the place of many first dates and first beers, home of famous burgers, wings and strong drinks, the place to “ruin your liver down by the river”…is drowning. We have been so fortunate to have served so many wonderful customers and friends for 40 years with the Saugatuck River as our backdrop, and are hoping to continue being able to serve you.

Our beloved old barge withstood Hurricane Sandy, the departure of near-celebrity status bartenders, rising food, liquor and utilities costs, and the takeover of Westport by brand name chains. Despite these changes, it is our long-time customers, camaraderie and meeting new customers that have kept us, the remaining few long-time employees, going.

Part of the Black Duck’s peril: increasingly frequent floods.

Consistency and “turning back of time” has been the Duck’s long-time appeal. Indeed, best-selling novelist Jane Green stated in 2017 that the Black Duck is “one of the few places where old Westport and new Westport meet.”

Yet this turning back of time, has also led to the accrual of increasing debts. Though we have had to increase our prices over the years, these increases have been disproportionately lower than the increasing food costs. In other words, our commitment to being one of the last affordable, laid-back restaurants in lower Fairfield County has caught up to us. In the last 6 months, we’ve been experiencing slower business and now have fallen on significant financial hardship, and are facing the biggest challenge of the Black Duck’s 40 years of business.

It is devastating to think that we won’t be part of Westport and a part of your lives anymore. If our small barge on Riverside Ave becomes empty, so many of you, our guests, will no longer have your go-to place to go to, so we the employees, are doing everything we can to keep it going.

We need to raise cash immediately. Our hope is that with the money raised, that the Duck will be able to stay open for this month and next month.  This money will get us through the slower time.  We would love your help and we are so thankful for your business over the years and for taking a look at our campaign!

Love humbly from the entire Black Duck team.

So far, $300 has been raised.

Duck-lovers: Now’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is. (Right around those wings, steamers and onion rings.)

Click here for the Black Duck’s GoFundMe page.

(Hat tip: Jennifer Rankine)

 

 

The Apocalypse Is Here: Black Duck Closes Sunday

Minutes ago, the Black Duck — the legendary Saugatuck dive/burger/karaoke bar — posted this notice on their Facebook page:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce our closing. We’ve had an amazing 40 years here in Saugatuck/Westport… and we are grateful for every friend we’ve had the pleasure to serve and entertain along the way. We will be closed Thu. 11/1, and Fri. 11/2, but we WILL BE OPEN on SAT. 11/3, and SUN. 11/4 – to say good-bye. Let’s go out with a REAL BANG!

Westport will never be the same.

(Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

(Photo by John Kantor)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Hat tips: Terry Brannigan and Meredith McBride)

 

Pics Of The Day #557

Saugatuck Shores sunrise … (Photo/Mark Bates)

… and evening on the Saugatuck (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Pic Of The Day #554

Saugatuck scene (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pic Of The Day #551

Fog on the Saugatuck River (Photo/Ward French)