Tag Archives: Bobby Q’s

Bobby Q’s — And Blues & Views — Are Back

You can take Bobby Q’s out of Westport.

But you can’t take Bob LeRose out of our town.

The restaurateur closed his popular Main Street barbecue spot in April 2016.

Almost immediately, a 20-pound tumor was removed from his thigh. It had bothered him for 6 years.

He spent a month in the hospital, and another month relearning how to walk. Finally — after 2 years — he’s off crutches.

Meanwhile, last July he opened Bobby Q’s Cue & Co. in Norwalk. Part of the up-and-coming Waypointe District — around the corner from the former Loehmann’s Plaza, near Barcelona and Colony Pizza — it mixes the old restaurant (some of the furniture and menu items) and the new (upbeat look, evolving menu).

Bobby Q’s Cue & Co., in Norwalk.

Bobby still books bands (without, sadly, a rooftop stage). There’s an acoustic jam every Thursday, and Trivia Night on Wednesdays.

But Bobby remains closely connected to Westport too.

On Saturday, June 9 (12 noon to 8 p.m.), he’s part of Wakeman Town Farm’s Beer Garden. His low and slow BBQ will complement live music, lawn games, artisan vendors, frosty New Belgium Brewery beer, and treats from Saugatuck Sweets.

The other day at the Farm, he taught a barbecue basics class.

Of course, he’s also involved with Blues, Views & BBQ. He started the event — one of Westport’s biggest of the year — and it’s still his baby.

What’s a Blues, Views & BBQ Fest without something from Bobby Q’s?

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association will no longer sponsor the music/food/fun festival.

So he’s partnered with the Levitt Pavilion and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, ensuring that on Labor Day weekend the sounds of blues and the smells of barbecue will continue to draw thousands downtown.

“I’m diving back in all aspects, 100 percent,” Bobby promises.

Mark September 1 and 2 on your calendar. In the meantime, try Bobby Q’s Cue & Co.

The best barbecue in town is now just one town away.

Pic Of The Day #166

The alley by the old Bobby Q’s — now being renovated for Bedford Square. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Ladies Sing The Blues

When Beth Iovinelli belted out a song at last year’s Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, she basked in thunderous applause.

Then — referring to the Levitt Pavilion stage, site of the sold-out 2-day event — she asked her friend Suzy Bessett, “Notice anything missing?”

She meant: Any other woman.

Iovinelli was the only female singer the entire weekend.

The blues boasts plenty of legendary ladies — think Etta James, Big Mama Thornton and Janis Joplin. But over the years, bands have become male-dominated.

This year, Bessett and Iovinelli take one small step for (wo)mankind.

The 10th annual event (September 2-3) will include a rock-the-house show by the Sisterhood Blues Project. They’re set for Sunday (September 3, 12:30 p.m.).

Sisterhood Blues Project (from left): Beth Iovinelli, Betsy Benham Fruda and Suzy Bessett.

On a weekend filled with powerhouse performers — Galactic, Deep Banana Blackout, Bonerama, Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett, and the return of Anders Osborne — this is one you don’t want to miss.

The 3 “soul sistahs” grew up in Norwalk. Bessett — who organized the group — began singing as soon as she could talk. But she stopped when real life — an investment banking career, marriage, kids, a move to Westport — intervened.

Eventually, the lure of karaoke proved powerful. Then in 2009, she joined Ms. Suzy’s Opus. For years, they — with Bessett fronting — were a popular fixture on the local scene.

Bobby Q’s rooftop was a favorite venue. That Main Street restaurant/bar has moved to Norwalk, but the blues festival it spawned is still here.

Ever since the new Levitt opened 3 years ago, Bessett dreamed of singing on its stage. When Iovinelli noted last year that she was the only female singer at the festival, Bessett asked Blues, Views & BBQ founder Bobby LeRose about a celebration of women musicians. He instantly agreed.

Bessett recruited Iovinelli and Fruda. Both spent over a decade with the Third Sister Band, opening for GE Smith, Rick Derringer and Murali Coryell. They currently front the B Side Band.

The new group weaves together powerful vocals, harmony, soulful blues — and of course, sisterhood.

They’ll be backed by some strong brothers. Westporter Crispin Cioe played sax with the Rolling Stones. Westport native Tim DeHuff is a renowned guitarist. Drummer Vito Liuzzi played with the Johnny Winter Band. John Mulkerin is on horns; Mike Ventimiglia (Pimpinella) plays keyboard, while bassist Scott Spray has performed with Johnny and Edgar Winter, Eric Clapton and Joe Walsh.

They’re still working on a set list. But, Bessett says, they will probably perform at least one song from one of the great female blues singers.

The sisterhood lives.

(For more information on the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival — including musical lineup, food, activities for kids, tickets and more — click here.)

Photo Challenge #123

David Sampson, Joyce Barnhart, Sally Korsh and Jill Turner Odice all answered last week’s photo challenge with 2 words: “Onion Alley.”

Technically, Lynn U. Miller’s image (click here to see) actually showed the intriguing wrought-iron gate at the Main Street entrance to now-closed — and slated for demolition — Bobby Q’s.

Onion Alley was the restaurant a decade earlier. But that’s typical Westport: We often refer to places that live on in our memories.

James Weisz was the first reader to use the most recent name, Bobby Q’s.

Then there’s Jacques Voris. The Westport native — whose family’s roots here date back to the 1700s — called it both Bobby Q’s and Onion Alley. And, he noted, it was also the entrance to “African American church/housing.”

That’s right. Back in the 1940s, 2 dozen black men, women and children lived there. The address was “12 1/2 Main Street.” Set back a bit from the road was a warren of apartments, and a small church.

The complex burned to the ground in 1950. The cause of the blaze was never determined. But that’s another story entirely.

This week’s photo challenge is a bit different than most:

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

It’s the Compo Beach cannons — duh.

But do you know where in Westport you’d find this image?

Click “Comments” below if you know where you see it. And most of us do see it, all the time.

Photo Challenge #110

Last week’s photo challenge was stunning. Lynn U. Miller’s image showed a door, set in a brick wall, with “Stop War” painted in strong black letters. It almost looked like a movie set. (Click here to see the photo.)

Readers’ guesses were stunning too. They ranged from the beach and railroad to the Staples principal’s office and Aleppo (!).

Even Jacques Voris — who knows everything about Westport — got it wrong.

In fact, only Chip Stephens knew that the door could be found at the side entrance of the old YMCA building on Main Street, near the old Bobby Q’s. Score one for the Planning & Zoning Commission (and Staples’ Class of 1973).

Lynn U. Miller — who helped launch this feature over 2 years ago — also shot this week’s photo challenge.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

If you think you know where you’ve seen this thing, click “Comments” below.

Bobby Q’s Will Be Back!

Mansion and Mario’s are memories.

But Bobby Q’s — the Main Street mainstay that closes March 31 — will live to smoke another day.

Sort of.

Owner Bob LeRose is opening a new barbecue restaurant in Norwalk. Located at 11 Merwin Street — off West Avenue, just north of Mathews Park and Stepping Stones Museum, in the newly developed “Waypointe District” — it’s (as Donald Trump would say) yoooge.

With 4,300 square feet, the restaurant will seat up to 100 diners. There will be outdoor seating too. (No word on a rooftop concert series.)

The as-yet-unnamed spot will open this summer. To pique diners’ interests — and tickle their taste buds — Bobby Q’s is offering each Westport table a 15% off coupon, good for the new place.

And, LeRose says, he’ll continue his catering business between the old closing and new opening.

bobbyqsNEW

Remembering Drew Friedman

Drew Friedman — a longtime downtown landowner who, as a founder of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, and landlord of restaurants like Onion Alley, Bobby Q’s and Acqua gave locally owned businesses space on Main Street, and influenced the entire downtown area — has died. He was 86.

There was a moment of silence this morning at “Weston Speak Up,” an annual affair in that town. Friedman was a presence in Weston as the owner of Cobb’s Mill Inn. He bought the iconic restaurant — with ducks and a waterfall — in 2011.

Drew Friedman and his wife Laura Papallo Friedman, at Cobb's Mill Inn. (Photo/Patricia Gay)

Drew Friedman and his wife Laura Papallo Friedman, at Cobb’s Mill Inn. (Photo/Patricia Gay)

Freidman sold his Bobby Q’s building in November 2014, for $9.2 million. He owned it for 31 years, renting to tenants like Onion Alley, Shoe Inn and the “Born to Explore” TV show.

His downtown holdings once included the original Westport Public Library building on the Post Road between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza (now Starbucks and Freshii). He also owned Post Road property beyond downtown.

Friedman owned other commercial property in Westport too. Last May, he bought the 10-acre Stonehenge property in Ridgefield for $1,990,000.

Friedman’s wife Bobbi — a noted painter, sculptor and dancer — died in 2011. After her death, he married Laura Papallo.

 

Downtown Changing Daily

With Bedford Square construction kicking into high gear, Westporters are treated to scenes we’ve never seen.

Like this view of Bobby Q’s patio, from Elm Street:

Bobby Q patio

Meanwhile, across the way in the Baldwin parking lot, workers are busily converting the Kemper-Gunn House into the home of Serena & Lily:

Kemper Gunn house

Want a different view? Developer David Waldman offers 2 drone videos of downtown.

The first (click here) shows the Bedford Square project and environs. The second (click here) is a broader perspective, including the Saugatuck River and former Save the Children property — the next property set for redevelopment.

A view of downtown, from David Waldman's drone.

A view of downtown, from David Waldman’s drone.

Bobby Q To The Rescue

Laura Oestreicher Rikon is a 2008 Staples grad. She lives abroad now, but always appreciates returning to her hometown.

On Saturday night, she and a friend had dinner at Bobby Q’s. They enjoyed their meal — but later, Laura realized one of her earrings was missing.

Laura Oestreicher Rikon, and her beloved earrings.

Laura Oestreicher Rikon, and her beloved earrings.

They have great sentimental value — they were the last birthday present Laura’s grandmother gave her.

Laura and her friend searched all over the car, the parking lot and the street. Finding nothing, they returned to Bobby Q’s.

The staff helped her look around the floor, and in the bathroom. But they said they’d already swept up, so her earring might have been thrown away. They suggested she call in the morning. Laura thanked them and left — very disappointed and upset, yet grateful for their help.

But she dawdled on her way out, still  hopeful she’d find the missing jewelry. Once more, she searched the parking lot. Once more, nothing.

About to give up, she saw 2 men running toward her. They yelled, “We found it! We found it!”

They told her they knew how important the earring was to her. So after she left they crawled on the floor, using their phones for light. There it was!

Laura was thrilled to have her earring back — and floored by the kindness of strangers, who went far out of their way to do a good deed.

“Their generosity was so heartwarming, I couldn’t find words to express my gratitude,” she says. “And all they asked in return was that I pay it forward.”

In her excitement, she forgot to get their names. She hopes that telling her story on “06880” is one way of thanking them — and letting Westporters know how special Bobby Q’s is.

Bobby Qs Westport CT

 

 

From The West Village To Westport: 1 Year Later

A year ago April, I posted a story about a woman I’d never met. She was a native Californian who spent the last 7 years in Greenwich Village; a freelance graphic designer with a great portfolio, and the mother of a 2-year-old girl.

The family — well, the little kid had no say — were thinking of moving to the ‘burbs. They were looking at 2 towns: Westport and Darien.

She asked me what she’d find here. I deferred to the collective wisdom of “06880” readers.

Alli DiVincenzo

Alli DiVincenzo

Some people advised her to stay put. Others bashed Darien. But the majority of responders offered thoughtful, wide-ranging, realistic reasons for her to come to 06880.

Things happened quickly. Within 2 months Alli DiVincenzo, her husband Glenn and young Capri found a house and closed. On June 22 they moved to Green’s Farms.

The other day, Alli emailed again.

Did she bear good news? Was she aching for the city — or California?

Read on:

I can’t believe it’s been just over a year since you came to my curious rescue about the town of Westport. You graciously posted my cry for help and opened the blogwaves to your readers for their opinions.

The responses not only hit every geographical touch point, but many emotional ones as well. Your readers are passionate. I thank you and all of them again for enlightening us on the good, the bad and the ugly –although I have yet to witness anything truly “ugly” in this town. Even the seagulls are pristine.

My sister visited last week. She described Westport as “Perfectville!” (She acknowledged that she has yet to experience a winter here.)

Alli's neighborhood, near Burying Hill Beach. (Photo by Alli DiVincenzo)

Alli’s neighborhood, near Burying Hill Beach. (Photo by Alli DiVincenzo)

Lots has happened to Alli in a year.

For one thing, Capri now has a baby brother. Will was born 9 months to the day after Alli and Glenn moved here. (Ahem. I refuse to go there.)

He’s got a longer-than-he-realized commute to New York. But she set up a home studio. Thanks to tons of people she’d just met, but who were eager to refer her, her AlliQDesign firm has plenty of projects. She worked with Westport Invitations; designed a poster for Amy Oestreicher‘s Gutless and Grateful show, and did graphics for the Westport Library‘s Great Gatsby Party. A mother at Capri’s pre-school sent 3 clients Alli’s way.

The neighbors on her cul-de-sac were very welcoming. She was invited to a Christmas party, and they threw her a baby shower plus a baby welcome brunch.

Her neighborhood features a long-running book club, filled with women who are “smart, beautiful, strong and successful, each in her own way.” A neighbor introduced her to the staff at the Westport Country Playhouse; she’s been to every play since. 

Alli and Capri, with holiday plants at Terrain.

Alli and Capri, with holiday plants at Terrain.

Alli and Capri went on the Wakeman Town Farm chicken coop tour. The family has explored Earthplace, the beaches, and canoed on Sherwood Mill Pond. Alli calls Westport’s resources and recreational activities “beyond any scope we’ve ever known.”

Alli loves the open spaces — and the fact that people don’t hide in it. Last week she chatted with a man pushing a stroller. He works on environmental issues. “People here do very interesting things,” she says.

For a while, she and Glenn thought Bobby Q’s was the only place to eat. They’ve since discovered the Whelk, the Dressing Room and many others. The variety of restaurants was “a pleasant surprise,” Alli says.

This summer — for the 1st time ever — the family is not going anywhere. They just want to enjoy their new home town. After all, Alli says, “It’s like a vacation spot.”

She admits downtown is “a bit sleepy.” But she is excited by the changes coming soon. And, as her father observed, “You can always tell a great downtown: It doesn’t have parking meters.”

Of course, every mother wants her child to be happy. So how does Capri like Westport?

“She’s taken the town by storm,” Alli says.