Tag Archives: Bobby Q’s

COVID-19 Roundup: Winslow Park Rules; Virtual Bingo Helps Non-Profits; Keep Your Distance!; Restaurant, Retail News; More

As of yesterday, there were 89 positive cases of COVID-19 in Westport — the smallest daily increase here since the spread was first reported. Norwalk has passed Westport for the most cases in Connecticut (105).

Social distancing appears to be working. Governor Lamont emphasized that again, restricting all social and recreational gatherings to no more than 5 people.

The Parks and Recreation Department institutes these rules at Winslow Park:

  • No off leash areas. All dogs must be kept on leash.
  • Pets must be kept close to the handler.
  • The 6-foot physical distancing protocol is to be followed for people and pets. 

These protocols should be followed everywhere in town, including Longshore. Park.


Reader Stan Witkow reports that a group of Westporters has started a virtual bingo night every Thursday. The winner chooses a non-profit to get the buy-in pot. This week’s beneficiary is Westport EMS.

Over 20 people played last week, from as far as Florida and California. Most met 20 years ago at New Neighbors, Temple Israel and parents’ night at Bedford Middle School.

Even more signed up for this Thursday. Bingo!


A reader writes:

My wife and I walk on our sidewalks and roads. We’re mindful of the 6-foot distancing recommendation, so we’re distressed to encounter people who seem oblivious or apathetic. Young folks seem most careless, though some are mindful. Some older folks are careless too.

Yesterday, a young man running and breathing heavily came up from behind and nearly brushed my shoulder. That single encounter could easily have spread the virus. Unfortunately it was not our only close call.

A reminder: The virus is in the community. We all must avoid spreading it.

Be careful out there!


Nefaire, JoyRide and Haus of Pretty have teamed up on a “self-care bundle.” It  includes a facial, cycling class and blowout.

15% of proceeds go to retail employees across the 3 businesses: estheticians, therapists, cycling instructors, front desk hourly staff and hair stylists.

The bundle can be purchased at www.westportisstrong.com.


In restaurant news, Bartaco is donating 100% of all gift card sales to an employee fund.

And although Bobby Q’s moved from Westport to Norwalk, its heart is still here. They always contribute generously to town causes, like Christ & Holy Trinity Preschool. A reminder: Their smoker is open now, with curbside and delivery service.


Last month, “06880” profiled Ben Saxon. The bright, creative Staples High School 9th grader had just launched a math, robotics and coding tutoring service  for 6- to 14-year-olds.

Schools closed, but Ben hasn’t. He now offers weekly LEGO building, Kano Star Wars programming and Makeblock robotics courses, for 2-3 students each. They’re 1 hour a day, 5 days long, starting on Mondays, all via Zoom Video Conferencing. For details, click here.


The Berniker family has had a tough time during this crisis. Jen is now recovered from a bout with COVID-19. Her husband Eric is at home after an encouraging chest X-ray.

The other day, Jen Berniker interviewed her 6-year-old son Max about the ups and downs of family isolation.

That’s today’s Persona interview (below). Download the Persona mobile app to share your own stories, by interviewing family members and answering questions we’ll be sending around. Tag “6880 Dan Woog” in the interviewee field.


Finally, this has absolutely nothing to do with COVID-19. But it has everything to do with the idea that everything we do matters. Bruce Springsteen took a chance and invited a kid onstage. Look what happened next. So cool!

 

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