Badass Bagels, out of Sugar + Olives, definitely lives up to its name.
But what about Westport’s other “hole foods”: donuts?
Not so much.
There are 3 Dunkin’ Donutses in town, but most people go there for coffee. Coffee An’s great donuts share space with muffins and crullers. Donut Crazy offers crazy good donuts, but unless you want your arteries immediately blocked, you can only go there once a month.
Evan Feldman is changing that — one freshly made mini-doughnut at a time.
Evan Feldman’s donuts.
The University of Michigan graduate spent 10 years in finance. He didn’t love it though, and when the 2008 economic crisis hit, he took a severance package.
His wife was an occupational therapist; he stayed home to raise their child, and consulted on the side.
One year turned into four. Then … it was time to make the donuts.
Feldman’s father had taught him to cook. His brother was a chef. His in-laws owned a New York food business.
Most importantly, he had a sweet tooth.
Donuts were becomingtrendy. But unlike another early 2010s food craze — cupcakes — Feldman thought they had staying power.
“Donuts are always around,” he notes. “Every culture has a version of fried dough.”
He opened a Doughnuttery pop-up shop in Chelsea Market, figuring 3 to 6 months. Customers loved watching the batter turn into a sugary mini-donut. The aroma was intoxicating.
The market offered Feldman a permanent spot.
The business grew. His brother joined to run catering and events, with a mobile donut-making machine at places like Bryant Park and music festivals.
They opened in the Plaza Hotel food court, and the Turnstyle Underground Marketplace on Columbus Circle.
Customers asked about opening franchises in their hometowns. Doughnuttery launched 3, in Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona.
COVID hit small businesses like mini-donut shops hard. Two of the franchises folded. The Plaza did not reopen its food court.
But Doughnuttery is rising. Feldman recently opened another store, in Long Island’s Roosevelt Field mall.
A Doughnuttery store.
Four years ago, the Feldmans moved to Westport. A Rockland County native, he’d always wanted a house, lawn and garage; he loved hiking and the water too. His wife had friends in Weston.
Westport, he says, has been “magical.”
Doughnuttery has not yet popped up here. But he’s looking for opportunities.
Feldman is friendly with Badass Bagels’ Jennifer Balin. They might work something out.
He’s donated donuts to his kids’ schools, Coleytown Middle and Kings Highway Elementary.
Evan Feldman, on the cover of a New York Daily News story.
Because his donuts are made to order, there are not many left over. But when a company ordered 15,000 a day (to entice workers back to their offices), Feldman spent a couple of weeks dropping off hundreds at the Gillespie Center.
“They thought I was crazy,” he says. (Insert your own “Donut Crazy” joke here.)
Last weekend, the Doughnuttery mobile machine traveled to Bridgeport’s Sound on Sound music festival.
It’s in demand too for events like weddings and bar mitzvahs — any place mini-donuts can be made, hot and fresh, in front of people’s eyes (and noses).
Catering, courtesy of Doughnuttery.
That includes hotel rooms.
“We’re Kim Kardashian’s favorite donuts,” Feldman says proudly. “She asked us to make donuts in her hotel room, before a gala. We made them for her, and all her entourage.”
“06880” reported yesterday that Greens Farms Spirit Shop was for sale. It was right there online, with an MLS listing.
Yesterday afternoon, owner Nick Conti emailed:
“Been hearing a lot of chatter today about my store being for sale. I can personally tell you: ‘The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.’ The store is not, in fact, for sale. I have had the store for almost 4 years now and couldn’t be happier in Westport. It’s a tremendous community!”
It seems a broker Nick had not met before misinterpreted an offhand remark, and posted — without his knowledge — an item about the sale. (“The MLS is a strange place to market a business,” Nick adds.)
So, not only is Greens Farms Spirit Shop not for sale. But the store was just recognized as one of the nation’s Top 100 retailers, by Beverage Dynamics magazine.
Not far away at Compo, every Tuesday during the summer, the Y’s Men picnic near the cannons. Once a year, they use it to raise funds for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
This week’s hot dog cookout for the camp was the most successful ever
Several dozen Y’s Men and spouses — plus frequent Y’s Men speaker and loyal supporter 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker — enjoyed hundreds of dogs. They were donated by Y’s Man David Kalman, and grilled by members Roy McKay and Larry Licht.
1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker drops a contribution in the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp bag. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)
Staples Players’ first Studio Theater production in over 2 years takes center stage on Thursday. Studios are directed, designed and run entirely run by students.
“At the Bottom of Missoula” portrays loss and grief in such an impactful way. Co-directors Chloe Manna and Chloe Nevas — both seniors — say, “It was a challenging piece but one we were excited to take on with our amazing cast and crew. The show takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions within its 35 minute run. The lighting design and sound is unique too, and creates really beautiful moments we hope the audience will be touched by.”
The plot: After losing her family in a fatal tornado, college student Pan embarks on an unimaginable journey. She transfers schools and isolates herself, but cannot escape feeling sad and guilty. Finally, a classmate helps Pam realize that healing need not be a solitary endeavor.
Performances are Thursday and Saturday, June 9 and 11 at 7:30 p.m., in Staples’ Black Box Theater. Click here for tickets.
The cast of “At the Bottom of Lake Missoula.” (Photo/Chloe Nevas)
The rugby team defeated Trumbull last night 41-21 in the state tournament semifinals.
The Wreckers advance to the state championship. The match is home (Paul Lane Stadium) this Thursday (June 9, 5:30 p.m.) against perennial powerhouse Greenwich — winner of 11 state titles. The Westporters shoot for their first.
Staples and the Cardinals have a great history. The Wreckers won their league match this spring; 3 weeks later, Greenwich got revenge at nationals.
Award winning singer-songwriter Diana Jones headlines this Saturday’s Voices Café at the Unitarian Church. Her 8 p.m. concert is both in-person and livestreamed.
The concert is dedicated to the efforts of 6 area faith communities. All help settle refugees in Fairfield County, through the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants.
Volunteers come from Westport’s Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Unitarian Church and United Methodist Church; Weston’s Norfield Congregational Church, the Greenfield Hill Congregational, and First Church Congregational of Fairfield.
Jones has performed at the Cambridge Folk Festival, Galway Arts Festival, Levon Helm’s Ramble in Woodstock, New York, and Bimhuis in Amsterdam, and shared stages with Richard Thompson, Janis Ian and Mary Gauthier. Joan Baez has recorded her songs.
Voices Café offers café-style and individual seating. Click here for tickets, and more information.
It took 3 years of planning (and COVID), but Staples’ Class of 1980 will celebrate their 40th reunion — okay their42nd — at LaKota Oaks in Norwalk. It’s also a giant 60th birthday party for all. LaKota Oaks’ 65 acres includes a pool, basketball and volleyball courts, horseshoes and more.
The event begins Thursday, August 11 at Viva Zapata; continues Friday at the Black Duck, and concludes Saturday at LaKota Oaks. There’s jazz music in the afternoon, and a DJ at night.
Last month, Allyson Stollenwerck and her 12-year-old son Walker attended Wakeman Town Farms’ “Attainable Sustainable” panel.
They heard about Food Rescue US. The nonprofit’s app enables volunteers to pick up unused food from local restaurants and markets, and bring it to social service agencies.
Allyson and Walker signed up. Their first assignment was to bring leftover donuts and pastries from Coffee An’ to the Westport Housing Authority on Canal Street.
“It was super simple,” they report. “Food Rescue emailed great instructions, and it was a quick trip. We hope others give it a try.”
I have no idea why Coffee An’ does not sell out every day. But if they — and any other food establishment in town — don’t, it’s great to know that Food Rescue can help. (Click here for more information on Food Rescue US).
Walker Stollenwerck, rescuing food from Coffee An’.
The longtime Westport lawyer is a former Connecticut state representative, US Attorney for the District of Connecticut, District Court judge, and — following retirement in his 80s — a special counsel attorney.
Now he’s got another accomplishment. At 93, was the oldest runner among nearly 1,200 in the traditional Chilmark Road Race on Martha’s Vineyard. He completed the hilly 3.1-mile course, in hot weather, in 1:08.37.6.
Congratulations, Judge Nevas! (Hat tip: Susan Filan)
How’s this for a delicious combination: The Westport Farmers’ Market, and MoCA Westport.
An opening reception for “Between the Ground and the Sky” — a collaboarative exhibition — is set for August 27 (6 to 8 p.m., MoCA).
Guests can meet featured artists, enjoy custom cocktails from Bar MoCA, and check out the great new garden.
“Between the Ground and the Sky” features more than 50 stunning large-scale photographs by Anne Burmeister and Ashley Skatoff from the Who Grows Your Food initiative — a photographic journey celebrating the farms and farmers associated with the Farmers’ Market.
The exhibition also includes two site-specific installations by Kristyna and Marek Milde and the naturalistic works of Donna Forma. Click here for more information.
“Yesterday was the 3-year anniversary of the day we lost Rachel. [The 2015 Staples High School graduate — a rising senior at Cornell University, National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of “Rachel’s Rags,” a company that makes intricate cotton and fleece pajama tops and bottoms — died following a rare reaction to common medications.]
“In our ongoing mission to support families with critically ill children, we are holding an outdoor, family-friendly event (October 2, 4 p.m., Compo Beach).
“Rachel’s grandfather “Pa” pledged to walk 1,000 miles in his 80th year to honor Rachel, and raise money for Rach’s Hope. Please join us October 2 to Walk the Extra Mile with Pa and Team Rach’s Hope (or just cheer us on).
“At the end of the 1-mile walk, we will gather to celebrate Pa’s feat — and all your love and dedication to our charity — with a pizza truck, live music by Ellis Island, and beverages. PJs are optional, but encouraged!”
Click here for more information, and to register or donate.
Rachel Doran’s grandfather gets ready to walk. You can too!
The Great American Relay starts in Boston, and ends in Santa Monica, California. There are 415 stages through 18 states, over 38 days.
It starts on 9/11 — the 20th anniversary of that fateful day, and raises funds to support the military and first responders. Runners can dedicate their stage to a first responder or veteran they care about.
Last year, Westonite Jeffrey Wollman was a support runner, from Fairfield to Westport. An avid racer — he’s run 8 marathons since 2015 — he is also the Fleet Feet Westport training group coordinator, and one of their coaches.
He’s participating again this year, as the lead runner from Westport fire headquarters to the Darien Fire Department. He’ll start his 8.3-mile stage on September 13, just before noon.
Eight spots are still available. For more information, or to join or donate, click here.
Dave Wright (Fleet Feet Westport owner, left) and Jeffrey Wollman.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is in Ridgefield. But there’s a strong Westport presence.
Board chair Diana Bowes is a longtime Westporter. Betty Stolpen Weiner is the new director of development. Claudia Lonkin — the visitor experience manager — is also a substitute teacher at Staples. And executive director Cybele Maylone is the granddaughter-in-law of former Board of Education chair Joan Schine.
All are exited about the Aldrich’s Artists at the Table (October 1). The “farm-to-museum” dinner in the Sculpture Garden features a locally sourced 3-course dinner prepared by Hayfields Market Catering. Guests and artists share a meal, engage in conversation, and celebrate local flavors and contemporary art.
The Westporter has been a reporter in Europe, Asia and the Americas; a communications director with NASCAR and the US Olympic ski program; a ghostwriter of 14 memoirs for clients like Rudy Vallee’s wife, a US ambassador, a nuclear physicist, oil baron and more; and a mystery series writer.
Her new novel, “In Terror’s Deadly Clasp,” is based on a true story. It provides a rare, chilling glimpse of terrorists’ daily lives in America as they enjoyed strip clubs, fast food, fat bank accounts and freedom from their religious rules while planning the 9/11 attacks.
“This bullfrog hangs out a foot from my dock on Nash’s Pond. He doesn’t flinch when people walk by (hence my ability to get a closeup). I guess he been here longer than we have, because he’s not budging!”
“We residents on Pequot Trail are very upset by this week’s clear cutting of a lovely wooded area that provided privacy for multiple properties around the entrance to our street. Every time I turn onto the street now, my heart sinks.
“We’re sad enough that the charming house is being torn down — we get that this is inevitable — but did all of the mature trees and coveted privacy for multiple homes need to be callously destroyed?
“I called the town and was told that initiatives to restrict tree cutting have failed multiple times. I wonder what needs to happen to get our town, which prides itself on being so ‘green,’ to put a stop to this kind of environmental desecration?
“To preempt any comments about ‘city people’ moving in, this property was bought by a Westport family. That makes it so much more disappointing.
Clear cutting, around the house that will be demolished.
When COVID canceled last year’s annual plant sale, the Westport Garden Club planted a sign: “See You in 2021.”
True to their promise, this year’s in-person (sale is set for Friday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). The new location is Jesup Green.
Gardeners can purchase plants the day of the sale, or online starting May 1. Click here for information.
Online orders will be available for curbside pick-up. And club members will be on hand during the sale to offer expert advice.
In more Garden Club news: “Friday Flowers,” the campaign initiated in the dark days of last spring to lift spirits and beautify the town, returns this summer. The first installation (May 7) is at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Floral arrangements made by club members will be displayed each Friday through Labor Day.
Amy Mandelbaum is vice president of the OUT Foundation, which encourages the LGBTQ community to participate in fitness, health and wellness activities.
She also owns CrossFit Westport. There’s no better place to encourage the inclusion she champions.
So on Saturday, April 17 (9:30 a.m. to noon), her gym — just over the Norwalk line, at 19 Willard Road — sponsors an “OUT Athletics” event. The warmup and workout is fun, doable — and everyone is welcome.
There’s food, coffee, and gift bags from sponsors like Garnier and Goodr sunglasses. Each heat lasts 45 minutes to an hour; then comes (socially distant) socializing.
For more or information or to sign up, click here.
With little rainfall and low humidity recently, Westport’s brush fire danger is high.
The Fire Department responded to 2 brush fires yesterday — simultaneously.
The one on Sherwood Island Connector was quickly extinguished. The other — between Parsell Lane and I-95 — brought 30 firefighters and officers from Westport and Fairfield, with 7 engines and 1 ladder. It burned 3 1/2 acres, but there was no property damage or injuries.
Westport Firefighters were dispatched to two simultaneous brush fires, one on the Sherwood Island Connector at Nyala Farms Road and the other on Parsell Lane.
This is amazing! Who would have guessed that “the friendliest curbside experience in America” is located right here in Westport? At our Fresh Market!
A cynic might demand proof.
I just want to know: Is this “the friendliest curbside experience” for supermarkets throughout America only? Or does it include everything: restaurants, bookstores, hardware stores, liquor stores, whatever?
Some Westporters live on the water. Others live in the woods, or close to town.
But only residents of Woods Grove Road enjoy the Saugatuck River on two sides — with Coffee An’ just beyond.
Plus, of course, an easy stroll downtown.
Woods Grove is off Canal Street, on the right just past the parking lot for the old 323 restaurant, heading west toward Kings Highway.
Woods Grove Road is close to downtown. I’s bordered by 2 branches of the Saugatuck River.
AJ Izzo — owner of the old Crossroads Ace Hardware, another great close-by attraction (now replaced by an excellent liquor store) — says that when he grew up on nearby Richmondville Avenue, the area was woods, and a dirt road. Most houses were built in the 1940s and ’50s.
Ken Bernhard — who moved there from around the corner — calls Woods Grove “a charming respite.”
It’s a dead-end, so there’s little traffic. But it’s a long, winding road, so there are plenty of families. Kids play in the street. Neighbors chat.
Woods Grove Road is well named.
A “watering hole” features a dock and rope swing. “There’s nothing more pleasant than the sound of kids laughing and splashing,” he says.
The main branch of the river is great for canoeing and kayaking. Every morning, Ken says, a neighbor on the Wilton Road side paddles — with his German shepherd — to the dam and back. Everyone waves.
The neighborliness extends to Aquarion. The water utility owns land across the river. A while back, the pumping station made a distracting, growling sound. Ken offered to buy equipment to deaden the noise.
Nope, Aquarion said. They did it themselves.
A Woods Grove back yard.
Ken calls Woods Grove “delightful. The houses are not big, and the lots are not too large. Everything is the perfect size — just as much as we need.”
Besides Coffee An’ and the Merritt Country Store, residents can walk or bike to the library and Levitt. The Y — and Merritt Parkways exits 41 and 42 — are around the corner.
Yet one of the most interesting features of Woods Grove Road is one that neighbors barely mention.
A non-profit enterprise — the Westport School of Music — is located in a house halfway down the road. Established in 1938, it’s got a great reputation.
The Westport School of Music looks like any other home.
Students come and go quietly. There’s a little more traffic because of it than normal, but Woods Grove residents hardly notice. They’re happy to be near such a well-regarded, artistic enterprise.
Life on Woods Grove Road is good. Between the beautiful river and delicious donuts, who can complain?
A recent “06880” photo of the Compo Beach palm tree got an alert — and hungry — reader thinking about lobster rolls.
That reminded her of clam chowder, which made her think of Westfair Fish & Chips. She’s been a fan ever since she was a student at Staples High School, back in the mid-1980s.
The small, unassuming takeout-or-eat-in spot behind the strip mall opposite Stop & Shop has been a Westport favorite for over 30 years. And that got the “06880” reader wondering about other restaurants that have stood the test of time.
Three decades is a great achievement for many things: a career, a marriage. But it’s particularly remarkable in the constant churn that is Westport’s restaurant scene.
She and I came up with a list of places we think have been here for at least 3 decades. They include:
Gold’s. The anchor of Compo Shopping Center since it opened in the late 1950s, and the anchor 6 decades later for anyone who loves a quintessential deli.
Viva Zapata. Probably the oldest continually operating restaurant in town, especially when you consider its predecessor, at the entrance to what is now Playhouse Square.
Westport Pizzeria. Opened in 1968 on Main Street, where it stood proud and unchanging for over 45 years, “Westport Pizza” moved around the corner to the Post Road in 2014. Its special recipe thankfully remains the same.
The Black Duck. A star turn on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” has not changed this waterfront favorite one bit.
(Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)
Dunville’s. Around the corner from the Duck on Saugatuck Avenue, another down-home place that’s the same now as when its present owners grew up here.
Sherwood Diner. Or, simply, “the diner.” It’s no longer open 24/7, but is still the go-to spot for Staples High School seniors, senior citizens, every other human being in Westport, and anyone wandering in off nearby I-95.
(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Sakura. As steady as she goes. It — and the gorgeous cherry blossom tree outside, which gives the restaurant its name — has been a fixture opposite McDonald’s since the fast-food franchise was Roy Rogers. And before that, Big Top.
Fortuna’s. With limited seating, this is not really a restaurant. But stop quibbling. Its winning formula has filled the stomach of Staples students, Post Road workers and everyone else since the Ford administration.
Coffee An‘. If it’s good enough for Bill Clinton, it’s good enough for the rest of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a president or a peon. The donuts are the same — unbelievable — for all.
Little Kitchen. When it opened on Main Street, it really was a “little kitchen.” Now it’s bigger, and the granddaddy of all Asian fusion places in town.
Da Pietro’s. One of Westport’s best — and smallest — restaurants, earning praise and love since 1987.
Tavern on Main. This cozy 2nd-floor Main Street spot has not been here as long as its predecessor, Chez Pierre — but it’s getting close.
I couldn’t find out for sure when a few other long-lived (though probably less than 3 decades) restaurants opened. But these too have stood the test of time: Tengda. Tarantino’s. Finalmente. Via Sforza. Planet Pizza. Tutti’s. Positano’s (at 2 different locations).
Special mention goes to 2 fantastic delis that offer a wide variety of hot and cold food, and serve as community centers: Elvira’s and Christie’s Country Store.
Plus, of course, Joey’s by the Shore. It’s not a restaurant or a deli. But the beach concession occupies its own special. much-loved niche. And if it hasn’t been here for 30 years, it’s at least 29.
Finally, 2 other downtown delis have been around for decades. They’ve changed names, and — particularly with one — substantially updated the interior.
But Rye Ridge (formerly Oscar’s) and Winfield Street Coffee (previously Art’s, and definitely not on Winfield Street but right over the bridge) keep doing what their predecessors have done.
And what every other place in this story does: provide excellent food and continuity to generations of Westporters.
(Have I missed any longtime restaurants or delis? Click “Comments” — and my apologies!)
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