Tag Archives: Arrow Restaurant

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!

Friday Flashback #101

The other day, I mentioned how few photos I’ve seen of Saugatuck before I-95 was built. I’ve always had a tough time visualizing what that neighborhood looked like before bulldozers, concrete and pillars.

Alert — and historic-minded — “06880” reader Neil Brickley rode to the rescue. He’s a Staples High School classmate of mine, with an equal fascination for the Westport a few years before our parents arrived.

The photo Neil sent is fascinating. It’s a stupendous aerial view of Saugatuck from 1951 — about 4 years before construction began.

I noticed a few things.

The Arrow Restaurant (most recently Blu Parrot) was not yet built on Charles Street.

Greens Farms Road met South Compo quite a bit further south than it does today.

Most significantly, the area west of Saugatuck Avenue — where land was taken to build the Exit 17 interchange — was much more wooded than I imagined.

Click on or hover over the image above. Explore. Then click “Comments,” to share what you see.

Neil also sent this bonus aerial view: The same area, taken in 1965.

A lot changed in just 14 years.

Which makes me wonder what the Saugatuck of today will look like in 2032.

Mystic Market Ends Saugatuck Blight

For too long, the building at 60 Charles Street — most recently the Blu Parrot, before that Jasmine, and for decades the beloved Arrow restaurant — has sat empty.

The vacant building and overgrown lot have served as a shabby welcome to everyone coming into Westport off I-95 Exit 17.

Also for too long — ever since Peter’s Bridge Market closed — Saugatuck residents have lacked a moderately-priced place to pick up food.

Both issues are now solved. The building — owned by Felix Charney and Jake Grossman — has been leased to Mystic Market.

(Photo/Russell Sherman)

This will be the 4th location. Three others — 2 in Mystic, 1 in Old Saybrook — tout “gourmet quality products, at marketplace prices.”

Mystic Market will offer groceries, soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, grinders, a coffee bar, and a bakery serving breakfast goods, breads and desserts. Catering is also available.

“It’s moderately priced — sort of a contemporary Peter’s Bridge,” says Tommy Febbraio, the Coldwell Banker Commercial realtor who brokered the deal.

A spring opening is planned.

 

 

Remembering Dino Nebel

Dino Nebel — the football-playing Staples High School Class of 1978 graduate, who entertained dozens of former employees at the now-legendary Arrow Restaurant reunion in 2012 — died recently. He was 56.

Dino came from a long Westport family. His grandfather — the famous sculptor Berthold Nebel — worked out of a barn he built on Roseville Road. His grandmother tended a beautiful garden there.

Dino worked for several years at the Arrow, starting around age 15. He had plenty of tales to tell of his time there — and he told them boisterously, as shown in these video clips:

 

The Arrow is long gone. So now is Dino.

But thanks to YouTube, both will live on forever.

(Hat tip: Zoe Kassis)

Bright Vs. Blight

For years, the Weston Road/Easton Road/North Main Street rotary near Exit 42 — the unofficial “Welcome to Westport” landmark for everyone coming off the Merritt Parkway — was maintained, as a public service, by Daybreak Nursery.

But when financial problems caused the nearby business to close, the triangular plot grew grungy.

Now — suddenly — the space looks gorgeous.

(Photo/Russ Miller)

(Photo/Russ Miller)

I don’t think it was a state Department of Transportation project. But huge props to whoever got it done.

Meanwhile — across town — another “Welcome to Westport” site looks decidedly less welcoming.

(Photo/Joanne Romano)

(Photo/Joanne Romano)

Just one more reason to avoid I-95, and take the Merritt.

Following The Arrow

Longtime lovers of the Arrow — for decades, Saugatuck’s favorite restaurant/gathering spot/clubhouse — will find this photo immeasurably sad.

So will devotees of the Blu Parrot, the much shorter-lived, but also greatly admired, live music/bar/restaurant.

Arrow Restaurant for sale

As Saugatuck undergoes a renaissance — Phase II opened officially last week, adding more retail and residential space to the current mix of excellent restaurants, popular bars, walkable streets and new river activities — there must be a way to repurpose this great space.

Click “Comments” for suggestions. Use real, full names, please!

Blu Parrot Grounded? (With Update At End Of Story)

Double Down — a self-described “funky rock & roll” group — was all set to play at the Blu Parrot this Saturday (May 4). The 1st show was scheduled for 9 p.m.

But an email sent at 5:30 this afternoon to fans says:

Ha … Double Down has seen a lot in our time but this is a first …

Unfortunately our show on Saturday has been canceled due to the venue going out of business.  Very sad that they couldn’t have closed next weekend!

Oh well … wish those guys the best and we’ll see you all soon.

Have a great weekend … Rock on!

I just called the Blu Parrot — the restaurant/music venue that opened last October in the building previously owned by Jasmine. (And — for decades before that — the Arrow Restaurant.)

A recorded announcement thanked me for calling the  Blu Parrot, “the fun place for dining, dancing and good music.” It described tonight’s band — but said to call back “after 11 a.m.” for reservations or more information.

It was 6:20 p.m. when I called.

Uh oh…

(UPDATE:  An email sent at 11:55 a.m. today — Wednesday, May 1 — says: 

To all of our Friends, customers and muscians  who have supported us here at The Blu Parrot: we will be closing our doors as of 5/1/13. There are parties that are interested in buying the business and we can only hope that they will continue to bring the best in live music to the Westport area.

Thank you for all of your support and making this such a great place.

blu parrot

Blu Parrot Lands In Saugatuck

Surging Saugatuck gets another big boost this Wednesday.

The Blu Parrot flings open its doors. Westport’s newest restaurant — on the site of the old Jasmine, and the older Arrow — offers an inspired menu, and equally intriguing live music.

It’s a big space, and the owners have big plans.

But it’s also the perfect space: the corner of Charles Street and Saugatuck Avenue, easy to get to and near many other new (and old) cool places in that part of town.

The owners are hardly newbies. Adam Lubarsky and Steven Alward are Staples grads (Class of 1973) and old friends. In 1978 — age 23 — they opened the Georgetown Saloon. For 26 years they offered good food, honest prices, and music so kick-ass that Keith Richards was a regular.

Now — back in their home town — Adam says, “We want to elevate the bar.”

Steve’s menu features dishes like oyster po’boys, Bubbe’s brisket sandwich, Moroccan lamb kebabs, bool kogi, and shrimp & grits.

The walls are filled with original works of local artists and photographers: Daryl Hawk, Al Coyote Weiner, Lynn Duebendorfer and Adam’s mother, the late Thelma Lubarsky.

Proud owners Steve Alward (left) and Adam Lubarsky.

But it’s the stage that will make the Blu Parrot special. A “piano man” plays from 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursday. From 9 p.m. on (Wednesdays through Saturdays) and 6:30-9:30 Sundays, there’s great music. Jazz, rock, country, Brazilian — it’s the Georgetown Saloon, with a Westport twist.

Sunday brunch features gospel. That’s a Saugatuck first.

Speaking of Saugatuck: For decades, the Arrow restaurant was an icon of that tight, close-knit community.

The Blu Parrot will — in its own way — help define the spirit of the new Saugatuck.

Somewhere up above, Lou and Frank Nistico are smiling.

Couldn’t Make The Arrow Reunion?

Last night’s Arrow Restaurant reunion was a sellout — and a smash.

If you couldn’t make it to the Red Barn — a very appropriate, Nistico-owned place — here’s the next best thing.

(YouTube video of Dino Nebel’s story-telling, courtesy of Ray Flanigan, Bethel Photoworks)

Arrow Points To An Amazing Reunion

Two years ago, someone started an “Arrow Restaurant” page on Facebook. It was a place for fans of the famed Saugatuck eatery to gather virtually, and share very real memories of the food and folks they loved so long and so well.

Lou Nistico, son of the founders of the Arrow.

Tom Nistico — grandson of the founders — still does not know who created the page. But he loves it.

He’s even more excited about an event it spawned.

On Saturday, August 18 (6 p.m.), there’s an Arrow reunion. It’s open to all former employees and customers — anyone, really. It promises to be one of the highlights of the year.

It’s at the Red Barn, naturally — the restaurant Tom and his family saved and restored in 1983. The Wilton Road location is gorgeous — but on August 11, all eyes will be a few miles south.

The original location. The restaurant got its name from the “arrow” shape of the Saugatuck Avenue/Franklin Street intersection.

The original Arrow — started in 1932 — was located on the corner of Saugatuck Avenue and Franklin Street (there’s a Chinese takeout place there now).

The 2nd site — remembered by most Westporters — was around the corner on Charles Street. When the Arrow closed in 1991, Jasmine took over the site. Soon it will reopen as the Blu Parrot, featuring live music.

That’s a welcome addition to the revitalized Saugatuck community. But the old Arrow was old school — just like the neighborhood it served. The rest of Westport came along for the ride.

The longtime location on Charles Street.

The Facebook page brings the old Arrow back to life. “It’s amazing to see what it still means to everyone,” Tom Nistico marvels.

“I wish I had a video of a weekend night, so I could see again all the families and customers pouring through the doors. If you lived in Fairfield County, you probably became part of the fabric of the Arrow.”

Tom reels off the names of families that were customers for generations: Gargiulo, Cantor, Nevas, Sawch, Kaelin, Romano, Santella, Palizzio, Buccieri, Pascarelli, Massiello, Strauss, Caiati, Carbone, Luczkowski, McMahon, Spinola, Backus.

Many will be back for the reunion. “People are coming from everywhere,” Tom says proudly. “Eddie Gargiulo from Atlanta, and his brother Steve from Florida. Eddie and Sara Fuchs from Dallas. Billy Murphy from Boston. Cal Neff delayed his return to Thailand to be there.”

Tom Nistico, back in the day.

Corrado Nebel — son of longtime employee Dino, and a recording singer and guitarist — will perform.

As the music plays, dinner is eaten and drinks downed, the stories will flow. Former cooks, waiters, busboys, dishwashers — and the many customers who loved them — will trade tales of the Nistico family’s legendary generosity to (it seemed) every kid in town.

They’ll talk about 4th of July parties, and recall the countless celebrities (including most of the New York Giants) and regular Westporters who enjoyed good times and great meals.

Like sausage and peppers. Chicken picatta, francaise and cacciatore. Lasagna with baked egg. “Tommy toss.” Pork chops with cherry peppers. Clams casino. Eggplant parm. Fried mozzarella. Meatballs…

(In typical Arrow fashion, the August 18 reunion is a steal for good food and good times. The $45 cost includes a full meal — appetizers, dinner, dessert, tax and tip. There’s also a cash bar. Call the Red Barn at 203-222-9549, or email Tom Nistico at tomnissr@yahoo.com for a reservation.)