Category Archives: Saugatuck

Dunville’s Is Smokin’!

If you’ve passed by Dunville’s recently, you might have seen its smoker smoking away in the parking lot.

Sure, the popular Saugatuck Avenue restaurant is open for curbside pickup and delivery.

But the great meats and more it’s long been known for now feed grateful stomachs far beyond the usual customer base.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, owner Steve Carpentieri and Daniel Sullivan — owner and chef of Big Dimps BBQ in Norwalk — have partnered to feed a host of heroes.

The smoker crew (from left): Conor McMorrow, Daniel Sullivan, Steve Carpentieri. Kneeling: Dan Hoose.

Aided by friends in the industry who were laid off — or are still working, but offer to help — Steve and Daniel prepare and package amazing meals on site. Inside, the once-busy restaurant has been turned into a staging area.

The menu is mouth-watering: St. Louis ribs, chicken, pulled pork, smoked chicken quesadillas, double beef burgers with applewood smoked bacon, broccoli slaw, garden salads, baked beans, brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Dunville’s does it right.

An army of volunteers delivers the meals to all kinds of front line personnel and first responders. Recipients so far include hospitals (Norwalk, Stamford, Griffin Hospital, Vassar); police departments (Westport, Norwalk, Wilton, Fairfield, Stamford); fire departments (Westport, Norwalk Stamford); Orange County Regional Medical Center; Bridgeport Boys & Girls Clubs, and 911 operators and dispatch.

This week they’ll serve Norwalk’s Autumn Lake Healthcare, a rehabilitation facility and more police departments. They’re already planning next week’s schedule.

A delivery to the Fairfield Police Department.

They’ve done it all thanks to support from the community. Social media brings in some donations; others come from people driving by. They see the big smoker, stop to see what’s going on, and make donations.

The rest of the cost is borne by Carpentieri, Sullivan and their crews. “We have the facility — which I’m paying for anyway — and the volunteers to make this happen,” the Dunville’s owner (a 1983 Staples High School graduate) says.

“It would have been a shame to let this opportunity pass us by.”

They’re closing in on 3,000 meals served. Take that, McDonald’s!

More food for the front line personnel.

Pics Of The Day #1073

COVID-19 can’t keep Westport down!

Open wide! (Photo/Arlene Yolles)

Bill Kutik (right), and neighbors Mary Jo and Bill Fornshell enjoy socially distanced cocktails near Sylvan Road North. (Photo/Nancy Breakstone)

A message from Saugatuck Sweets — courtesy of 10-year-old Johnny DiGuido. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

Pic Of The Day #1070

Great food — carefully delivered — at Kawa Ni … (Photo/Darcy Hicks)

… and curbside at Jeera Thai, one of Westport’s most flavorful restaurants. Pook — the great, giving owner — and all other restaurants in Westport need our support!

Pics Of The Day #1066

Westport copes with the coronavirus …

Solitude at Grace Salmon Park (Photo/Jo Shields)

Empty parking lots on a weekday downtown … (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

… at the train station, and on I-95 (Drone photo/Patrick Sikes)

The message has gotten through. Teenagers stay in their cars, practicing social distancing — but hang out together at Longshore. 

A mid-March late afternoon dip at Old Mill Beach (Photo/Robin Tauck)

Lindsay Blaivas, her daughter Kenzie and dog Ruby went for a neighborhood walk. Along the way, they left some messages. “Getting creative and staying connected!” Lindsay says.  Here’s one.

Two weeks ago, you’d say “huh?” Now you say, “Where’d you get it?!” (Photo/Darcy Hicks)

Santa Claus comes early to Stop & Shop (Photo/Chip Stephens)

Restaurants Take Drastic Steps; Savvy + Grace Closes Temporarily

First it was schools. Then the library, Town Hall and Y. Last night, it was the beaches and Compo playground.

Now, COVID-19 is rippling through our restaurants.

Yesterday, Bill Taibe closed his 3 restaurants — The Whelk, Kawa Ni and Jesup Hall — for in-house dining.

Takeout meals are available through curbside pick-up. If you can’t leave the house — or don’t want to — they’ll deliver. It may take some time how to do it, Taube says, “but we’ll figure it out. Everybody’s got to eat!

“We feel this is necessary in order to do our part to help stop the spread of this virus,” says the owner of 3 of Westport’s most popular dining spots.

“If there’s ever a time to tip, this is it,” he adds.

For the time being, the doors to The Whelk will be closed. (Photo courtesy of Our Town Crier)

While not closing, other restaurants are taking their own measures during the pandemic.

Pearl at Longshore — which recently hired a new chef, reworked the menu and remodeled the interior — has removed some tables, creating more distance between diners. They offer 10% off on takeout orders, and will bring it outside for pickup.

Pearl at Longshore has made changes….

In addition to also removing tables, offering curbside pick-up and delivery (within 3 miles), Rizzuto’s has removed items like flowers and salt and pepper shakers from all tables. They’re printing menus on lightweight paper for single use. too.

… and so has Rizzuto’s …

The Boathouse has added curbside pick-up, and will soon offer delivery.

… and the Boathouse, at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

They — and every other restaurant in town — have strengthened existing health policies, and implemented new ones, such as washing hands upon arrival at work; before and after serving or removing food and beverages; before resetting tables, and after every customer interaction, including credit card processing. They’ve also expanded and enhanced their cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Restaurants also encourage patrons to buy gift cards. They provide much-needed cash now — particularly for small, great places like Jeera Thai — and can be used whenever you feel comfortable going inside.

PS: It’s not just restaurants. Customers can call Calise’s Market (203-227-3257). They’ll put together hot foods, soups, sandwiches, cold cuts, homemade pizzas, drinks, snacks, milk, water, bread, eggs, butter, dry goods — whatever you want  — all for curbside service or delivery.

Sandra Calise-Cenatiempo reports they just stocked up on pasta, sauces and many canned goods. Tomorrow (Monday) they’ll start making dishes that can be frozen.

If you own a restaurant — or store — and would like “06880” readers to know what you’re doing, click “Comments” below.


But restaurants are not the only small businesses reeling from COVID-19.

Savvy + Grace — the great, locally own downtown unique gifts-and-more store — will close for a while. But only the doors.

Owner Annette Norton — Main Street’s biggest booster — says:

As a small business owner I have been grappling with how to handle this.

I am responsible for the rent, vendor bills, expenses, yet with all of the information I am collection, it pales in comparison with our community’s health. Therefore, I have decided to close until further notice.

I will be inside, alone, processing all of our new merchandise for spring. Which, by the way, allows me to offer curbside delivery and call-ins, or direct message me on Instagram for shipping: @savvyandgracewestport. You can also call the store: 203-221-0077.

My store has always been, and always will be, about putting my customers first. This too shall pass.

I just want to do what is responsible, given the information available. It has been my pleasure to serve this community, and I am committed to seeing this through.

See you soon. Stay healthy!

Savvy + Grace, a jewel on Main Street. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Pic Of The Day #1058

Moon over Cribari Bridge (Photo/Chuck Greenlee)

Liquor Store Chess Game: Superstore May Move Across From Castle

It’s not easy opening a liquor store in Westport.

Beyond knowing everything about all kinds of beer, wine and spirits — and about business, and the law — you need a liquor license.

There are 13 for the entire.town. All are accounted for. The only way to get one is if an existing store goes out of business. That happens about as often as you’d expect.

Castle Wine & Spirits has had a license for 25 years. From their roomy space on Post Road East — the old Boat Locker, next to the now-vacant Liberty Army & Navy store — they’ve built a large, loyal customer base.

Owned by husband and wife Craig and Marina Jensen, managed for 20-plus years by Lenore Kallay and staffed by a sharp, veteran crew that knows exactly what each customer likes (and offers new ideas of what they might like), Castle is a well-loved, under-the-radar mom-and-pop success story.

Castle Wine owner Marina Jensen and wine director Ken Maykut.

But very occasionally, one of those liquor licenses becomes available. It happened in 2018 when Saugatuck Grain + Grape — for years on Railroad Place, then Post Road West — closed.

The owner of BevMax acquired the license. They’re a “superstore” chain, with 8 locations in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, plus a nationwide shipping office in Stamford. There’s a BevMax in Norwalk, near Stew Leonard’s.

The owner of a liquor store can move anywhere in Westport that zoning allows.

The new location of BevMax is the former Pier 1 store, in the Julian’s Pizza and Rio Bravo shopping center on Post Road East.

Directly opposite Castle Wine & Spirits.

The Jensens — who opposed the move before the state liquor commission, and lost — are concerned. But they’re ready to face the competition.

“People know us,” Marina Jensen says. “We  have great products, staff and customer service. We hire local kids. We deliver.

“And we have great relationships with other liquor stores. If we don’t carry something a customer wants, we send him to Greens Farms Spirit Shop. They do the same for us.”

Castle sponsors wine tastings, and offers twice-monthly classes (up next: “California vs. France”). They work closely with local organizations, like the Westport Country Playhouse.

Wine director Ken Maykut brings in bottles not found in the big box stores or other shops in town. He’s built up the burgundy section too.

“I don’t sell wine. I educate people about it,” he says. “It’s so gratifying when someone tells me they love a bottle I suggested.”

A large selection at Castle Wine & Spirits.

Construction has not yet begun on BevMax. For now, Castle Wine & Spirits has that stretch of the Post Road to themselves.

And they look forward to new neighbors next door. A vegan restaurant is planned for the old Army & Navy spot.

No word on whether it’ll have a restaurant liquor license. If it’s BYOB, customers will know exactly where to go.

Pic Of The Day #1056

Moon over Saugatuck train station, earlier this evening (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pic Of The Day #1052

13-year-old Lexi Gay took this photo of a beautiful cardinal this morning, from Village Pediatrics overlooking the Saugatuck River.

Friday Flashback #182

Tomorrow is Leap Day.

Today’s Friday Flashback honors another kind of leap.

Since its construction in the mid-1950s, the Saugatuck River I-95 bridge — back then, it was called “The Connecticut Turnpike” or “Thruway” — has been the scene of very occasional (and daring) (and stupid) leaps.

Startled drinkers at the Black Duck bar — and before it, Davy Jones’ — have watched teenage and 20-something guys (it’s always males) land in the water nearby.

The Saugatuck River bridge, under construction in 1957. Back then, I-95 was called the Connecticut Turnpike.

“06880” does not recommend this. The jump is spectacularly dangerous. And who in his right mind would even think of standing on the side of the bridge, with traffic whizzing by?

Nevertheless, if you have a story about leaping off this bridge — or any other one in Westport — click “Comments” below.

Feel free to comment too with any non-bridge Leap Year stories of your own.