Tag Archives: Cross Highway

Christie’s Country Store: A Dash Of Renovation?

For a place that looks almost exactly like as it did 7 decades ago, Christie’s has seen a lot.

For decades, Christie Masiello and her nephew Don ran the Cross Highway store as a country market. Nearby residents bought milk, eggs and produce there.

When the Masiellos finally sold it, there were changes (including a brief, forgettable moment as a dry cleaner).

In 2009 John and Renee Hooper bought it, and brought back the comfy, community gathering place vibe. They added burritos, prepared foods, Frosty Bear ice cream and a Sunday farmers’ market.

The couple wanted to offer brunch in the winter by the fire, and on the porch in the summer, plus a limited dinner menu. But state regulations prohibit expanding the septic system — a prerequisite for the changes — so after 9 years the Hoopers closed Christie’s.

Chef’s Table took over in April 2019, adding premium sandwiches, soups and a salad bar. But it closed this past January. Owner Rich Herzfeld said, “Very simply, the location didn’t work out for us.”

Jonathan Mathias

Jonathan Mathias thinks it can work for him. The 1977 Weston High School graduate — who for 20 years has built A Dash of Salt into a full-service catering firm with clients throughout the tri-state area, and as far as Maine and Florida — had long been encouraged by Christie’s owner, Tim Purcell, to give it a try.

Now Jonathan wants to.

He’s got some intriguing ideas. He’d transform the patio, with inviting seating, and hang rattan swings by the entrance. He’d bring back the ice cream hut, and sell Arethusa dairy products from Litchfield inside. He’d offer pick-up Community Supported Agriculture boxes from a farm partner, and local fresh eggs too.

With a bit of attention and fixing up, Jonathan says, Christie’s could be vibrant and exciting. He mentions Harbor Market in Sag Harbor as a model.

But he needs community support. He was buoyed by many positive comments when he floated the idea on Facebook.

Of course, online likes don’t translate into cold cash. Putting a first-class market requires extensive funding. Purchasing the building would be ideal. He’s looking for investors who share his vision.

Interested residents — or anyone who would like to know more — should email contact@adashofsaltcatering.com.

Christie’s, and its traditional front porch.

Just tell him Christie Masiello sent you.

Pic Of The Day #995

The other day, this Cross Highway barn was decorated with a snowman. Now, there’s a new message. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

[OPINION] Everyone Talks About Traffic. Now We Need To Do Something About It.

Last Saturday’s traffic was INSANE. In late afternoon, it took one “06880” reader half an hour to travel from McDonald’s to downtown. Another spent 40 minutes getting from the Post Road to the train station.

Side roads were no better. Cars backed up on Cross Highway from Weston Road all the way to Bayberry Lane.

This was a particularly bad Thanksgiving weekend mess. But more and more, it’s the norm.

An alert “06880” who asked to be identified as GS has had enough. He writes:

I’ve lived in town a long time. I’ve seen the traffic get worse and worse.

You can’t get from here to there anymore. I envision a not-too-distant future in which our property values go down, because traffic has become what Westport is best known for.

One familiar scene …

Anyone who was on the road last Saturday around 6 p.m. can attest: You could have gotten where you were going faster walking than driving.

Do you commute to and from New York by car? It used to be that once you got past Stamford, you were home free. Now you spend 20 minutes just between exits 40 and 41 on the Merritt.

If you’re on I-95 and get off at Exit 17,  you’re dead in the water. If you continue on to 18, there is a 5-minute backup on the exit ramp.

Heading from Cross Highway toward Exit 42 at the wrong time of day? That’s a joke. I could go on and on.

and another.

For starters, there has to be an immediate ban on development. More people equals more cars.

Then you have to systematically examine the traffic patterns of every intersection, and the timing of every light. Yes, I’m sorry, you will need to replace some of those stop signs with traffic lights.

A few traffic officers stationed in the right places at the right times of day would provide some relief.

We need a plan, and it has to start with limiting new buildings.

Maybe we need to form a special commission. Or perhaps appoint a traffic czar.

Whatever we decide, we have to do something. Traffic in Westport has reached a crucial point.

[OPINION] Fatal Accident Fails To Deter Westport Drivers

Gery Grove moved to Westport from Brooklyn 7 years ago. She thought the drivers here were crazy — but they’ve gotten worse. She lives on a street that is a Waze shortcut, and uses the Bayberry Lane/Cross Highway intersection often. Everywhere in town, she says, people speed. 

Paloma Bima has lived in Westport for 16 years — 14 of them on Cross Highway. “I have seen way too many accidents,” she says. “I love walking to Wakeman, but it is dangerous!”

Andi Sklar’s family rented for 4 years on Bayberry Lane. They then built a house on Cross Highway, and have been there for 6. Every day, she sees drivers run the stop sign at the intersection of those 2 roads. She worries about the safety of her daughter, who attends Bedford Middle School and walks to Chef’s Table.

Following this week’s death of 25-year-old pedestrian Peter Greenberg on Bulkley Avenue North, the women write: 

Peter Greenberg

The loss of any life, especially someone young, can be devastating. But why does it resonate here in Westport so much? Because as a community we observe countless near misses – misses that might end up differently the next time due to our pedestrian-unfriendly roads, and our constant battle with speedy or reckless driving.

(Details of that accident have not been revealed, so this is not meant as an accusation of reckless driving against the driver on Bulkley.)

The next day, Gery Grove passed a multi-car accident at the corner of Bayberry and Cross Highway. While waiting for police to wave her through, a dark grey Ford Explorer behind her honked aggressively. The driver stayed on her bumper all the way to Long Lots Road.

Less than a day had passed since a pedestrian was killed nearby. Many children live in this neighborhood. They walk to or from school, and Chef’s Table.

Slow down, Westport. Another serious accident is right around the corner.

The intersection of Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane is just one spot with frequent reckless driving, running stop signs, and near misses. The three of us have been searching for ways to manage the dangers on our roads.

After near misses with her own children at that intersection near her home, Andi worked with Westport police on the visibility of stop signs.

Officer Al D’Amura has been extremely helpful. After riding together, he cut big branches that might have blocked the signs.

He also had an officer sit at the intersection. That provided only temporary relief. Andi said he is requesting that Public Works trim more bushes.

Paloma sought approval for a crosswalk from one side of Cross Highway to the other near Wakeman Fields, in light of the recent creation of a mega-campus at Bedford and Staples. So far, no measures have been enacted.

Gery grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Years ago they installed cameras, to catch speeders. Tickets are sent by mail. The first time she returned home, she wondered why everyone drove so slowly. Clearly. the cameras work.

One loss of life in this town is one too many. The time to consider solutions was before this young man was killed – but it definitely needs to be before another tragedy.

We have fallen victim to Waze, tight schedules, our devices, distraction and carelessness.

We have to ask our town to take real, concrete measures to clamp down on speeding, consider more pedestrian safety measures like sidewalks and crosswalks, and truly make those who believe the rules don’t apply to them rediscover the value of human life.

Or at least, to feel the presence of the laws they seek to violate.

A typical Westport driver.

Let this week be a collective call to action for our town leaders to make sure we give this issue the attention it deserves.

We have to do something. We are told not to be helicopter parents. But it’s hard to let kids roam around Westport these days.

It should not be that way.

Pic Of The Day #798

Cross Highway plea (Photo/Lee Scharfstein)

Pics Of The Day #737

Spring comes to Cross Highway … (Photo/Mark Yurkiw)

… and tulips push their way through an outdoor chair. (Photo/Gil Ghitelman)

Pic Of The Day #679

Brenda Waldron first noticed this broken pole on Cross Highway, near Pine Tree Drive, before the holidays. “It’s getting worse,” she says. “Is anyone else concerned?” (Photo/Brendra Waldron)

Christie’s Closes Soon. Another Westport Institution Is Gone.

In 1926, Christie Masiello opened a fruit and vegetable stand on Cross Highway. For nearly 7 decades she and her nephew Don were staples of that northern Westport neighborhood: a place to buy food (and gas). And — just as important — to meet.

The place went through some changes — it was briefly a dry cleaner — but when John and Renee Hooper bought it in 2009, Christie’s regained its rightful place as a neighborhood store. And community center.

John added burritos, prepared foods and more to the menu. He rented space to Frosty Bear ice cream. There was a farmers’ market on Sunday mornings.

Nearby Staples High and Bedford Middle School students flocked there after class (sometimes during). Neighbors stopped in a couple of times a day, for whatever they needed. (Including cumin for a Christmakkah meal — click here for that great story.)

It was the only place around for builders, construction workers, tradesmen and delivery people too. They packed the parking lot at lunchtime.

Christie’s was also the go-to place during weather disasters. When hurricanes howled or blizzards blew, the store was the neighborhood port in a storm. John offered ice, water, food, cell charging — whatever anyone needed.

If his power was out too, it was still the place to gather, swap stories, and get energized for the cleanup ahead.

(Photo/Katherine Hooper)

But all those will soon be memories. With sadness, John has announced that Christie’s is closing next month.

Rent and taxes are high, relative to sales and income that can be generated in his out-of-the-way place.

The lease was up in June. But John and Renee stayed on, to see if they could create a plan to make things work.

Christie’s is a non-conforming use, in a residential neighborhood. Zoned as a retail food establishment, it can operate as a takeout deli, with limited tables and chairs to seat approximately 9 patrons indoors.

The Hoopers wanted to offer brunch in the winter — in front of the fireplace — and on the porch in summer.

Christie’s handsome front porch.

They hoped for limited dinner too, in the form of Friday Family Fun Nights  (Saturdays too).

But before they could get approval from Planning & Zoning, they needed an okay from the Health Department.

Health officials said the septic system could not handle the additional stress. And — according to state regulations — the surrounding soils made expansion of the current system unfeasible. John and Renee had to operate as they currently do.

“Local officials were great,” John says. “They tried to work with us. But state laws prohibit expanding the septic system.”

So Christie’s will close soon after their last catering event: a Staples PTA holiday lunch for teachers.

That’s fitting. John has always been a huge supporter of Westport (and Fairfield) schools. He’s provided great food as cheaply as he can — sometimes at cost.

Four middle schoolers hung out the other day at Christie’s — near a menorah, moose and reindeer.

“Renee and I are thankful for all the great friends and supporters we’ve met,” John says. “I’ve watched a lot of kids grow up. It’s been amazing, and what I’ll miss the most.”

“Closing Christie’s is sad for me. But Renee is comforted that I will be able to devote more time to her growing food company.” White Oak Farm & Table sells non-GMO and organic shelf-stable food to stores nationwide.

Everyone who made Christie’s their home away from home is sad too.

Really, everyone in Westport should be.

A little bit of what made our town special will soon be gone.

Thanks, John and Renee, for 9 great years.

And Christie’s, for 92 of them.

Pic Of The Day #443

Ed Gerber’s Cross Highway home was built in 1764 — more than a decade before the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was built by Eliphalet Sturges, who has one of the great names in the history of Westport.

Cleanup Continues

Friday’s nor’easter has moved out to sea.

Power is back on. Roads are cleared.

But for this homeowner on Cross Highway, near North Avenue, recovery will take a bit longer.

Meanwhile, tides are still running much higher than normal. This was the scene earlier this afternoon, at the Black Duck.

(Photo/Ward French)