Tag Archives: Dalma Heyn

Vacant Restaurant Vexes Residents

Over a year ago — on December 31, 2014 — Positano’s restaurant closed its location on Old Mill Beach. The property had been sold.

It reopened next to the Westport Country Playhouse, to the delight of many. But neighbors of the now-vacant building on Hillspoint Road have a beef.

The other day, 10 of them e-mailed “06880”:

The building formerly occupied by Positano’s at Old Mill Beach has been empty for over a year now. It is reaching blight proportions, with its faded yellow stucco, wide-open back window (into and out of which skunks and other creatures happily go) and bleak disrepair.

The back of the old Positano's restaurant, with a wide-open back window.

The back of the old Positano’s restaurant, with a wide-open back window.

In response to a letter Dalma Heyn wrote to the Westport News a few months ago, lamenting the loss of the restaurant ‘s vitality to our community and asking what was going on, the building’s owner kindly contacted her and revealed as much as he felt he could divulge at the time.

But months roll on, and still we have no answers. What or who is blocking progress, and why? How can we help move it forward? Show up for meetings? Sign a petition?

If it’s a lawsuit that’s stopping progress, does that squelch information — and do we have legal recourse, based on impact on property value? Why aren’t our emails requesting information answered? Rumors fly.

A view of the vacant Positano's, from Hillspoint Road.

A view of the vacant Positano’s, from Hillspoint Road.

In the meantime, where is Westport’s blight-prevention ordinance — which states that the town will intervene if a building is dilapidated?

The building is not just an eyesore. Once illuminated by the restaurant, and filled with visitors, Old Mill Beach and this stretch of Hillspoint Road are now pitch black at night, when so many people are out walking. Too, anyone with thoughts of renting or selling a home here must confront prospective buyers’ justifiable alarm — and his own infuriating ignorance.

We are an engaged, active community, and this is an historic district that must be protected and nurtured. We — and residents from all over Westport — see each other at breakfast or lunch at Elvira’s. We sit on the benches with our kids and grandkids. We walk our dogs together.

The menu is gone from its former spot, next to the front door of the restaurant.

The menu is gone from its former spot, next to the front door of the restaurant. (Photos/Dalma Heyn)

All Westporters treasure this charming beach community, which has long been a destination for all residents who want to hang out at the sound. We’re tired of the bizarre vacuum in which we find ourselves. We are once again politely asking the town for both a status report and for information about the process that will move this forward — and what part we can play, if any, in helping it do so.

It’s time our elected officials spoke to us.


Dalma Heyn, Richard Marek, Peter de Caprio, Karen Silverstein, Wanda and Craig Steinke, Eileen Winnick, Wendy Giffords, Mary and Peter Green


Local Authors Find E-Publishing “A Godsend”

Westporter Richard Marek is no stranger to publishing.

He spent 40 years in the business, including a stint as president and publisher of E.P. Dutton. He discovered Robert Ludlum, edited 4 books by James Baldwin, and published people like Peter Straub and Richard Condon.

Richard Marek and Dalma Heyn. (Photo/Pam Barkentin Blackburn)

But when he and his wife, social commentator and author (The Erotic Silence of the American Wife) Dalma Heyn wrote their 1st book together, more than a dozen editors had strong suggestions.

All of them different.

Change the hero, one said.

Change the heroine, advised another.

Add more sex.

Take out some of the sex.

Exhausted, Richard and Dalma put A Godsend: A Love Story For Grownups in a drawer.

They thought there was a market for this tough-to-classify “love story for all of us who are no longer kids,” but the people who offer contracts and actually publish books were not so sure.

A year later, Richard and Dalma talked to David Wilk. The “head trickster” of Booktrix — a publishing consultancy firm — and son of noted Westporters Max and Barbara Wilk, David thought Godsend would be a good candidate for digital publishing.

David handled all the details. He got the book onto every popular e-reader: Kindles, Nooks, iPads.

Now Richard and Dalma are sitting back, waiting for the money to roll in.

Or not.

“I’ve published 3 books,” she says. “They all had advances. We’re not sure what will happen with this one.”

“No one knows how to make any money on ebooks,” he adds.

So why are they publishing this way?

“The industry is changing,” Richard notes. “After so many years in it, I’m fascinated to see how this works.”

“It’s a great book,” Dalma says. “It’s fun to see how this Wild West of publishing handles something like this.”

A Nook Simple Touch.

Without a standard publisher, e-book authors must handle all the marketing themselves.

“You have to be knowledgeable about the internet, and spend 17 hours a day at it,” she says. They’re not, and they aren’t.

But, according to Richard, the flip side of e-publishing is “your book never dies. When I was in business, books died after 3 months.”

With no shelf life — because there are no shelves — books can gain audiences slowly. Every Valentine’s Day, Dalma says, she and her husband will launch a new marketing campaign.

Of course, Richard and Dalma are doing a bit of old-fashioned marketing too: book talks. Tomorrow (Thursday, March 29, 7 p.m.) they’re at the Westport Barnes & Noble.

They’ll discuss their latest work. They’ll share insights on e-publishing.

They’ll also hold a drawing for a Nook Simple Touch.

So the winner can read A Godsend — and 2.5 million other books — without ever having to set foot in a bookstore again.