Plenty of people say they have faith in Westport. It’s a good town, they note. We’ve adapted to the coronavirus, and we’ll be even stronger once the pandemic is past.
It’s another thing entirely to put your money where your mouth is. (Or more accurately, where our mouths ae.)
At least 9 restaurants — Don Memo, Walrus Alley, Manna Toast, Hudson Malone, Organic Krush, Outpost Pizza, Mexica, Basso and Capuli — have opened in the 10 months since COVID completely upended the dining experience.
California-Mediterranean fusion is on the menu at Capuli, in the former Westport Pizzeria Post Road East space.
Think of it: At a time of capacity limits, fears of indoor seating, concerns whether anyone would eat outside in winter, and economic upheaval — added to the uncertainty and stress of the restaurant industry in “normal” times — these men and women planted their flag (and their food) here.
They’ve put both their money and their trust in us. They’ve given us many great dining options (and provided employment for many others.) That’s impressive.
Joining the newcomers as Unsung Heroes are all the restaurant owners who are adapting, innovating, and otherwise making it through these very tough times.
Jeera Thai, Ignazio’s, Rizzuto’s, The Cottage, Bistro du Soleil, Via Sforza, Tutti’s, Black Duck, Little Barn, Romanacci’s, Kawa Ni, Layla’s Falafel, Viva’s — they, and so many more, continue to serve great meals (and serve all of us).
So let’s do our share. Eat in or outside if you’re comfortable; take out if you’re not (they deliver!). Buy gift cards, for yourself or others.
And of course: Tip well!
Jeera Thai, downtown across from Design Within Reach., is one of Westport’s most flavorful restaurants.
Westport’s elementary and middle school open for full in-person on February 1.
A new Westport Public Schools website offers information on the transition. it includes details on schedules, specials, health and safety, lunch and recess, mitigation and hygiene strategies, classroom cohorts, special education, transportation, technology and more.
Talented Westport photographer Ted Horowitz posted this photo to his Instagram this morning:
He took the shot years ago at sunrise, in the Lincoln Memorial.
“In the silence of dawn, with golden light reflecting on the statue, the the sense of gravity and majesty was overwhelming,” he says.
“It was a hopeful moment, as morning light poured in and a day dawned once again. I felt that this image was appropriate for today, as we seeking relief from the past 4 years, and are hopeful for the new day which is about to begin.”
Next Thursday (January 28) is National Seed Exchange Day.
Stumped for a celebration? Head to the Westport Farmers’ Market. It’s (no coincidence) their annual seed exchange.
People can bring seeds saved from their gardens — or take home a few saved by others.
WFM farmers will donate seeds from their favorite crops for the community to try at home. All seeds except invasive species are welcome, but the market urges people to bring and take home heirloom or organic varieties. (Click here for a list of invasive plants.)
Heirloom seeds are critical to reclaiming the food system. They’re open-pollinated plants passed down from generation to generation, without human intervention or manipulation. They taste better, are more nutritious, and help protect plant diversity.
“Collecting, sharing, and growing seeds saved by our very own shoppers, farmers and vendors – especially heirloom varieties – involves the community personally in the promotion of local food and flora,” says Farmers’ Market executive director Lori Cochran-Dougall.
“This year more than ever we want to seed the year with love and health.”
The seed exchange runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — or until all seeds are shared — on January 28th at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Avenue.
Experts will be on hand to informally discuss the importance of seed saving.
Yesterday’s mention of Capuli — the new restaurant in the old Westport Pizzeria location across from Bank of America — may have left the impression that it’s a pizza place.
The California-Mediterranean fusion menu — filled with healthy options — includes appetizers like chimichurri shrimp skewers and grilled octopus, and entrees like eggplant polenta Napoleon, pansotti, classic New York steak and California hamburger.
Click here for the mouth-watering lunch and dinner menus.
The pandemic has also affected Suzuki Music Schools. But their classical music education and performance schedule has simply moved from Colonial Green to cyberspace.
The popular children’s “Pillow Concert” series returns January 24, and continues through spring. Family-friendly concerts give children a chance to be up close and personal with performers beyond the front row (and they’re encouraged to bring pillows to create seats at the artists’ feet).
Online master classes and interactive workshops will be conducted by widely acclaimed artists like violinists Rachel Barton Pine and Regina Carter. They’re open to audit for non-students for the first time (for a small suggested donation to the school).
The 4th annual Connecticut Guitar Festival returns March 5-7. It goes global virtually this year, featuring international artists. Attendees can tune check out Suzuki Schools’ social media pages every week leading up to the festival for discussions famed guitarists about how they’ve performed during the pandemic.
For more information on Suzuki Music Schools, click here.
“Has anyone ever mentioned the overflow Post Road traffic at the Starbucks drive-thru?
“I can’t tell you how many time I’ve driven by and thought it’s an accident in the making. I snapped this the other day leaving the Bank of America ATM next door. I could barely see the approaching traffic.
“I’ve got nothing against Starbucks. I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”
Colin, the topic has been addressed before. This has been going on for months — ever since the pandemic began.
I am stupefied that anyone would sit in a car for so long at any drive-thru. It’s particularly mind-boggling because there is a perfectly good Starbucks a mile or so down the road, at Stop & Shop. The biggest line I’ve ever seen there is one person.
You could drive, park, get your coffee, drink it — and do all your grocery shopping — in the time you’d spend on that Post Road Line.
Of course, it would mean getting out of your car …
And finally … Phil Spector — the influential record producer who went from creating the famous Wall of Sound to prison for the murder of a woman in his home — died Saturday, of complications from COVID. He was 81.
When Connecticut moves into Phase 3 of reopening on October 8, restaurants can operate at 75 percent capacity. Right now, it’s 50 percent.
It’s a tough time to open a new spot. But 2 restaurants are trying.
Capuli — featuring “California-Mediterranean” cuisine — takes over the former Westport Pizzeria (and before that, Joe’s and S&M Pizza) Post Road East location, across from Design Within Reach.
Gabriele’s replaces Positano, next to the Westport Country Playhouse. That’s a storied locale. It’s been the site of The Dressing Room (Paul Newman and Michel Nischan’s venture), and other popular mainstays like Player’s Tavern.
Both openings are set for the fall. (Hat tips: Amy Schneider and WestportNow.)
Capuli comes here soon.
Colleen Palmer resigned in 2019, after 3 turbulent years as superintendent of schools.
She’s still in education. Today’s New York Times story on a population boom in small-town Vermont — driven by families escaping COVID in other states — includes this quote:
At the (private) Mountain School (at Winhall) there are 39 new students in a student body of 83, nearly all from what Colleen Palmer, the head of school, calls “Covid families.” They have brought with them, she said, “a real influx of terrific energy, enthusiasm, vitality, diversity.”
Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Tracy Porosoff)
Abilis — the non-profit that supports over 700 people with special needs, and their families — launches “Sibshops.”
The program isfor children ages 10 to 14 who are siblings of someone with a disability. The fun workshops and events combine recreation, discussion and information, and are safe spaces to share ideas and feelings while meeting others in similar circumstances.
Participants enjoy recreational activities and play games, while learning about the services their brother or sister receives. Sibshops begins this Wednesday (September 30), and runs through December 16. Meetings are virtual, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Or Zelle: email@example.com. Thanks!)