Tag Archives: Black Duck

Photo Challenge #353

There are few things more iconic in Westport than the Black Duck.

So when last week’s Photo Challenge showed hand-painted directional signs to 2 islands (Cockenoe and Long), and equally watery Key West, many “06880” knew where they can be found: the right side of our favorite dive bar. (Hey, that’s not me: Back in 2009, the Duck was a star attraction on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives“).

Elaine Marino, Derek Fuchs, Michael Calise, Robert Mitchell, Werner Liepolt, Tony Sousa, Andrew Colabella, Bobbie Herman, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Juliana Sloane Fulbright and Seth Braunstein are all (presumably) regulars, who nailed Seth Schachter’s photo as easily as they navigate the old barge’s sloping floor. (Click here for the image.)

This week’s Photo Challenge is also water-related. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Roundup: Big Top Ribs, “Best In Show”, EV Club, More


Owner Pete Aitkin wants to add some new “flashback” items to the Black Duck menu.

And he needs “06880” readers’ help.

“Many readers have fond memories of the Big Top,” he says, referencing the beloved, mouth-watering burgers-and-more joint on the Post Road and Roseville Road that is now (aaaargh) McDonald’s. “Some even worked there.”

Pete wonders: What kind of ribs did they serve? Baby backs? Beef? He thinks they were pork spare ribs. Any info on sauce or seasoning would be great too.

Email duckpeter78@gmail.com, or call 203-227-7978.


Yesterday marked the start of another school. It’s different than any that came before. But — as students, staff and parents saw yesterday at Coleytown Elementary School — some things never change:

(Photo/Stephanie Mastocciolo)


The Artists Collective of Westport knows about shows. So they’re proud to collaborate with the Remarkable Theater on a showing of “Best in Show.”

The drive-in movie — a biting satire about dog shows — will be shown Thursday, September 17 at 8 p.m. at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. The gate opens at 7.

Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to reserve.


Who says parades must be loud?

The EV Club of Connecticut is sponsoring a (socially distanced) electric car parade. It’s set for Sunday, September 27 (check-in at 9:30 a.m.

It starts at 10 a.m. at the eastbound Westport train station, by Donut Crazy. The parade ends at Fairfield’s Old Town Hall.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas will lead the parade in the department’s Tesla Model 3 police cruiser.

All makes of EV are welcome. To register, click here.

The Westport Police Department’s electric car.


And finally … today is September 9. Which means, whether you’re using American or European style, it’s 9/9. Which means …

 

A Toast (And A Bagel) To Westport’s Maven

Tomorrow (Sunday, March 1) is Bagel Maven’s last day in business. Owner Alex Perdomo moves on, eager to continue elsewhere.

Friends and customers will honor him today, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Black Duck. All are invited!

Alex Permodo at Bagel Maven.

(Hat tip: Phil Nourie)

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.

Friday Flashback #156

Regular readers know “06880” often laments the loss of things that make a town a community.

Movie theaters. Mom-and-pop shops.

And bars.

I’m talking about real bars. Not bars attached to restaurants, like so many places in town: Spotted Horse, Tavern on Main, Arezzo, Little Barn, you name it.

And not restaurants with very active bars, like Viva’s and the Duck.

No. I mean actual, go-and-stay-and-drink-and-maybe-have-peanuts-but-a-place-where-everybody-knows-your-name bar.

The Westport equivalent of Cheers.

Parsell’s Purcell’s was that kind of bar, on the Post Road near Southport. So was the Red Galleon, across from Green’s Farms Elementary School.

Ship’s Lantern was too, downtown on the Post Road (before it become The Ships nearby — which today is Tiffany 🙁 ).

Then there was “The Bridge.”

Formally Ye Olde Bridge Grill — though there was nothing formal about it — The Bridge sat on Post Road West, right over the bridge (aha!), a couple of doors down from National Hall (at the time, Fairfield Furniture), and directly opposite Art’s (now Winfield) Deli.

It was around for years, but hit its stride in the 1970s and ’80s. With generous owner Dave Reynolds, popular manager/bartender Dennis Murphy, a large and loyal bunch of regulars, and a jukebox that played the same songs over and over and over again (“Domino” by Van Morrison, anyone?), The Bridge was the kind of gathering spot we just don’t have any more.

Owner Dave Reynolds …

(It was also the sponsor of an Under-23 soccer team of the same name. Stocked with the best Westport players of its time, and their friends from the college and semi-pro ranks, it won all kinds of state and regional championships. After every match, players and fans celebrated you-know-where.)

… and manager Dennis Murphy (standing, left). He coached the Bridge Grille team to many state titles.

Things change. Rents rose. The drinking age rose too, from 18 to 21.

The Bridge has been gone for 3 decades or so. Today it’s an antiques shop, or something like that.

Cheers!

After 41 Years, Martin O’Grady Ducks Out

This Saturday, Viva Zapata celebrates 50 years as a Saugatuck institution.

But that’s not the only party in town.

Martin O’Grady

A few yards away, the Black Duck will bid farewell to Martin O’Grady.

The popular bartender is retiring after 41 eventful years at the Riverside Avenue instititution.

He’ll serve his final drinks on Saturday (July 27) from 12 to 5 p.m. The Duck invites Martin’s many fans to wish him well.

Plus, the Duck says, “this is your last chance to show him what a good tipper you are.”

Menu Moments: What To Eat At The Duck

Everyone loves the Black Duck. But admit it: With its wings, stuffed burgers, fried shrimp, po’ boys, onion rings and beers, it’s no one’s first choice when someone says, “Let’s eat healthy!”

Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t join the gang at the barge. Today, dietician Heather Bauer offers tips on the best, healthiest dishes to order at the Saugatuck landmark.

Appetizers:

Small house salad (the best option for vegan/vegetarian); oil/vinegar dressing

The Duck’s raw bar (6 oysters or 6 littlenecks)

Shrimp cocktail

Lobster cocktail ($20, but delicious)

Steamers (skip the butter on the side)

The Black Duck’s littleneck steamed clams (go easy on the butter and beer!)

Fish entrees

Broiled salmon (ask for a veggie side, instead of rice or potatoes)

Large house salad with shrimp or salmon on top (the best dressing option is oil/vinegar)

Steamers (skip the butter on the side, or go light)

1 1/4-pound steamed lobster (skip the butter and potato if you can; depending on the market price, this may be a great deal — it comes with a house salad) 

Meat entrees

Large house salad with grilled chicken or flat iron steak (the best dressing option is oil/vinegar)

House hamburger (choose the English muffin, and make it “topless” — take the top off, and eat with a fork and knife; ask for extra lettuce and/or tomato, and a side of coleslaw instead of fries or tater tots)

Turkey burger (again, order it “topless”; eat with a fork and knife; ask for extra veggies)

Take the top off a burger. (And avoid the sour cream.)

Vegetarian options

Iceberg wedge (without the bacon and blue cheese; ask for oil/vinegar dressing instead)

Veggie Burger (order it “topless”; ask for extra veggies and avocado on the side)

Bonus dining tip from Heather

Snack or not before you go?

You might think that a snack before you go out is a good way to avoid overeating, but it’s not always true. Be honest with yourself. Think about the times you’ve done this. Did you actually eat less at the restaurant, or was your overall intake that much more? Sometimes your pre-meal snack can increase your appetite, and decrease your self-control.

A Westport favorite, for decades. (Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

Pic Of The Day #751

Ducks admire The Duck (Photo/Amy Schneider)

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!

 

 

[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)