Tag Archives: Dunkin’ Donuts

Roundup: Greens Farms Spirit Shop, Coffee, Hot Dogs …

“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.

It’s all good. Party on!

Not for sale!

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Alert — and thirsty (though not for alcohol) – “06880” reader Mark Lassoff writes:

“I get off I-95 at the Southport exit yesterday, on my way to my Westport office.

“The Maple Avenue Dunkin’ Donuts was shuttered, without warning.

“The ‘New Dunkin’ opening in 3 days’ sign in Compo Shopping Center had not changed in a week

“Coffee An’ is closed for vacation.

“And Mrs. London’s Bakery is closed and locked, with no lights on and no sign on the door.

“I was forced to get coffee at Manna Toast ($5.19, from a thermos).

“When will the new Dunkin’ open? Downtown office workers are having a coffee crisis!”

Too bad, Mark: You should have looked more closely (or perhaps driven by a few minutes later).

Westport’s newest/most recently relocated Dunkin’ opened yesterday. Enjoy!

(Pro tip: Park in the back lot. There’s plenty of room. Unlike, ahem, the front.)

Closed for vacation!

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Everyone continues to rave about Old Mill Grocery — the newly reopened deli/market on Hillspoint Road.

And by “everyone,” we mean all kinds of people.

And their pets.

With plenty of dog treats on the shelf (courtesy of Earth Animal), we’ve seen lots of tail wagging — inside, and out front.

Bobo, at Old Mill Grocery. (Photo/Sunil Hirani)

Cathy Malkin sent this photo of Yogi Bear, and says he  gives the new place “2 paws up”:

(Photo/Cathy Malkin)

Meanwhile, Maggie Moffitt Rahe reports — happily — “the line was out the door. One can only say ‘thank you” to the donors for opening the doors again. It’s bustling, and beautiful.”

Old Mill Grocery. (Photo/Maggie Moffitt Rahe)

Classic scene is back. (Photo/Patty Gabal)

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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)

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Also at Compo: For a few weeks after it was installed, the new electronic sign notifying beachgoers of the parking situation sat idle.

Yesterday, it worked.

Well, if you disregard those diagonal black lines everywhere.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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Flyers distributed yesterday in Saugatuck announced a state Department of Transportation “I-95 Resurfacing and Median Reconstruction Project, to begin July 2022.”

The bridge over Saugatuck Avenue will be replaced, using “Accelerated Bridge Construction Methods called Lateral Slide, which minimizes the disruption to I-95 commuters.”

In addition, the I-95 bridges over Franklin Street and the Saugatuck River will undergo concrete deck repairs, replacement of expansion joints and installation of new standpipes.

A portion of the structure will be replaced over a weekend, with 2 lanes of traffic in each direction.

Other work includes:

  • Reconstruction of the center median and right shoulders along with resurfacing of the highway mainline and ramps at Interchanges 16 and 17.
  • Median will be reconstructed consistent with other stretches of I-95 to provide a 6-foot-wide capped concrete barrier section.
  • Wider left and right shoulders where possible.
  • Improve drainage by replacing and re-routing drainage structures
  • Replacement of the existing highway illumination system
  • Install new realigned Incident Management System (IMS)
  • Install new guide rail
  • Utilize wet retroreflective pavement markings to provide increased visibility of pavement markings in wet conditions.

(Hat tip: Ken Stamm)

I-95 bridge over the Saugatuck River. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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Matthew Hooper and his wife live near downtown. On Tuesday night, walking in that often bustling area, he spotted 2 deer.

One was happily hanging out at the Millman & Millman law office. Moments later it as joined by another, strolling right down the yellow line on Main Street.

Whether they were looking for legal advice, or perhaps a gelato, they captured Matthew’s attention. And he captured one on camera, for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Matthew Hooper)

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And finally … Mark Lassoff may not be able to find a cup of coffee. But if he’s lookin for java:

 

Roundup: Winslow Park, Tarry Lodge, Dunkin’ …

In May, “06880” published the sad story of Winnie the Pooh.

Fifth grader Alex Johnson eulogized his dog. It had run through a break in the Winslow Park stone wall, and been struck and killed by a car on Compo Road North.

Thanks to the efforts of the Johnsons — and many others — tragedies like those may soon be diminished.

Last week, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission voted unanimously to fill in 3 breaks, in the park’s off-leash area.

The plan includes split-rail fencing, backed by “nearly invisible” mesh fencing, plus a 3 1/2-foot gate at each of those 3 areas. (Hat tip: Tricia Freeman)

Winnie The Pooh.

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The Sweet Remains are a highlight of every Levitt Pavilion season.

But last night’s concert was extra special. The usual local pride — Sweet Remains leader Greg Naughton grew up in Weston, and lives in Westport — swelled when the trio was joined onstage by Greg’s wife, Broadway star Kelli O’Hara; his father James, the noted actor, and sister Keira.

Alert “06880” reader/longtime music fan/superb photographer Tom Kretsch reports: “It was a truly incredible evening, with a packed crowd enthralled by the group’s performance.”

The Sweet Remains, with James Naughton, Keira Naughton and Kelli O’Hara.

Levitt Pavilion, last night (Photos/Tom Kretsch)

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What’s up with Tarry Lodge?

Recently, alert and hungry reader Patti Brill has noticed the “unkempt” appearance of the Charles Street restaurant. Yesterday, it looked like it was closed.

I checked the website. Nothing unusual; it was taking reservations and pickup orders.

I called. I was about to hang up when — on the 10th ring — a recording said, “We are pleased to announce our new hours.”

That’s usually a euphemism for “shorter hours.” I don’t know their previous schedule, but according to the chirpy voice, Tarry Lodge is open Wednesdays through Friday from 4 to 9:30 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 9:30 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.

This was Sunday. I pressed “2” to order by phone.

Nothing. Nada. Zippo for some za.

If any reader knows more, click “Comments” below.

Tarry Lodge, yesterday. (Photo/Patti Brill)

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Around the corner from Tarry Lodge, the Bridge Square Dunkin’ Donuts is definitely open.

Alert “06880” reader John Karrel was there this morning.

The music playing in the background was a bit mystifying: Christmas carols.

Hey! Only 153 shopping days left.

Meanwhile, in other Dunkin’ news, a large sign promises that the Compo Shopping Center spot — newly relocated from across from Fresh Market — opens in 3 days.

We’ll soon find out which is more dangerous: The drive-thru Starbucks, or its competitor in an already overcrowded and dangerous plaza.

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Today’s “westport … Naturally” feature shows a serene Sherwood Mill Pond weekend scene. And how did you spend your Saturday evening?

(Photo/Gary Weist)

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And finally … if you missed the Sweet Remains last night — or want to hear more — click below:

 

 

 

Roundup: Dunkin’ Down, Politico Zoom, Oldenburg Sculpture …

Westport is down one Dunkin’.

The donut-and-coffee spot on the Post Road at Maple Avenue North closed abruptly yesterday.

Some folks thought it’s because there will soon be a new Dunkin’ in Compo Shopping Center, near CVS.

Nope — that’s the new home for the Dunkin’ across from Fresh Market. The shopping plaza there is being renovated, prior to Westport Hardware moving in from its current digs a few yards away.

The “CVS Dunkin'” will drive more traffic to that already gruesome lot. But it’s a toss-up which is more dangerous: Compo Shopping Center, or the angled spots and snake-like exit from the smaller strip mall at the now-closed Maple Avenue store.

The closed Dunkin’.

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A COVID diagnosis has turned tonight’s 7 p.m. Westport Library discussion with John Harris into an all-virtual event.

The founder of Politico — the must-read news site — will talk with Steve Parrish, the Westport public affairs and communications expert. They’ll chat about Harris’ career, his work with Politico, and the future of politics in an increasingly polarized nation.

Click here to register for tonight’s Zoom session, and more information.

John Harris

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Bostonians love Kured. The charcuterie company has a shop in Beacon Hill, and delivers throughout the area. Now it’s opening in the Seaport District, on the Ombrello patio that includes restaurants, retail and entertainment.

Kured is the brainchild of 2016 Staples High School graduate Gilli Rozynek. She captained the field hockey team, and was a Student Ambassador, Best Buddy and SafeRides board member.

Gilli started Kured as a part of the start-up accelerator program at Boston College. She calls it “Sweetgreen or Chipotle for charcuterie.” Expansion to New York may be in the works.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: David Loffredo)

Gilli Rozynek, at Kured.

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The death of Claes Oldenburg — the pop artist known for his large sculptures of everyday objects — reminded Paul Lowenstein of a local connection.

For nearly 20 years, Oldenburg’s 19-foot, 10,000-pound work of a typewriter eraser surprised and entertained drivers and joggers on a staid stretch of Beachside Avenue. In 2019, the sculpture was moved to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida.

It now sits in Heyman Plaza. The site is named for Sam and Ronnie Heyman (she’s a Norton trustee) — the Greens Farms couple who donated the massive work. (Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

“Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” — Claes Oldenburg’s sculpture on Beachside Avenue..

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Speaking of art: Local artist Sherri Wolfgang gets her star turn next month at the George Billis Gallery.

Her show opens with a reception August 4 (4 to 7 p.m., 180 Post Road East). It runs through September 3.

“Same As It Ever Was,” oil on linen (from Sherri Wolfgang’s “American Pathos” series).

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Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., VFW Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue; $10 cove) features legendary bassist Harvie S., with James Weidman,
Tony Jefferson and “Jazz Rabbi” Greg Wall.

Dinner service begins at 6:30. Reservations are strongly recommended: JazzatThePost@gmail.com

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Pam Kesselman is an avid beach-goer. A grossed-out one too, these days.

She writes: “Before I went for a swim. I picked up this debris. I wonder how many fish we’ve hurt with our garbage. It was disgusting!”

(Photo/Pam Kesselman)

She adds: “Everyone: Please pick up after yourselves at the beach . It can be lovely but won’t be unless everyone works at it.”

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How fierce was yesterday’s storm?

This drain at Stop & Shop could scarcely keep up with all the rain:

(Photo/Jacquie O’Brien)

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Gloria Ann Calise Franco, a member of Westport’s noted Calise family, died last week in New Canaan, surrounded by her family. She was 95.

Born in New York City, she moved with her parents Mike and Catherine Calise to Westport. Her father founded the Westport Game & Poultry Farm on the Post Road.

Following graduation from Staples High School in 1944, she attended Berkeley Secretarial School in New York.

The game farm became Calise’s Market. Her father opened a liquor store next door. A salesman caught Gloria’s eye. With some matchmaking from Gloria’s sister Susie, Gloria and Dick Franco married in 1949.

They moved to New Canaan, where they raised 11 children. She was involved in their school activities, as well as the Democratic Town Committee, UNICEE (chapter president), the New Canaan Women’s Club and Parks & Recreation Commission (board member of both), and the American School for the Dea.

She and Dick were presidents of the New Canaan Dance Club too. She was a faithful churchgoer, and well known for her 3 p.m. tea time.

Gloria was predeceased by her husband; their children Richard A. Jr. of New Canaan; Tom (Yvonne) of Ridgefield, Chris (Christie) of Monroe, New York, Anne Franco McAndrew of Kent, Tim (Marie) of Concord, Massachusetts, Mike (Mary) of New Canaan, Duffy (Megan Collins) of Norwalk, Carl of New Canaan, Claude (Val) of New Canaan, Katie Franco O’Neill (Mike) of New Canaan, and Kelley Franco Throop (Tom) of Rowayton; 16 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren, and her sister Marie Sodaro of Fairfield.

A wake will be held Thursday (July 21, 3 to 7 p.m., Hoyt Funeral Home, New Canaan). The funeral is set for Friday (July 22, 10 a.m., St. Aloysius Church). Contributions in her honor may be made to St. Catherine Center for Special Needs in Fairfield.

Gloria Calise Franco

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Most visitors to the Senior Center are a “certain age.”

Not this family. Jill Grayson spotted the young-looking parent and her children there the other day. They patiently posed for her — and for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

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And finally … on this date in 1848, the 1st US women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York.

(“06880” is fully reader-support. If you’d like to help, please click here.)

Roundup: Donuts, Swans, Missoula …

In honor of National Donut Day last week, the Senior Center ran a contest.

The results are in:

  • Chocolate: Coffee An’ (“by far,” I’m told)
  • Glazed: Coffee An’ and Dunkin’ Donuts (a tie!)
  • Plain: Dunkin

Sweet!

A Westport favorite for generations. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

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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)

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Speaking of Staples:

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.

Get ready to rumble!

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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.

Diana Jones

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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.

As always, the Class of ’80 will raise money for the Susan Fund, in honor of classmate Susan Lloyd. For tickets and more information, click here. Questions? Email amy@aapk.com or szrobins84@gmail.com.

The Susan Fund — in honor of Susan Lloyd, Staples ’80 — provides scholarships for students with cancer, and survivors.

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Several readers have noticed that the swan’s nest near Gorham Island seems abandoned.

Amy Schneider took this photo, which may show the reason why: cracked eggs.

If so, it’s a sad — but natural — “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … if you’ve never heard of Diana Jones (story above) — or if you have, and enjoy her music — take a listen:

New Coffee Shop Stirs Controversy

The news that Dunkin’ Donuts is moving across the Post Road — from its spot near the UPS Store, to 2 vacant storefronts in Compo Shopping Center — was greeted not with joy, for its expanded space.

Instead, “06880” commenters expressed chagrin that the already chaotic parking lot opposite Trader Joe’s will become — unbelievably — even more gruesome.

In a town with too many candidates for Worst Traffic Nightmare, the twin lots near downtown win in a walkaway. As bad as the rest of Westport is, nothing comes close to these mis-aligned, cramped lots filled with aggressive, heedless drivers laser-focused on getting their pizza, dry cleaning or hemorrhoid cream, then getting the hell out.

Now we add coffee into the mix.

Arrow? What arrow?!

I don’t recall Compo Shopping Center always being so bad. Even with a McClellan’s five-and-dime, barber shop and luncheonette — remember “luncheonettes”?! — plus a supermarket where Awesome Toys is now, traffic flowed smoothly.

I might be misremembering, but it seemed that the traffic in front of the left side of the plaza was always one-way, headed south. You couldn’t come from behind the stores and head left through the lot. You couldn’t even back out and aim for the light at the middle; you had to keep going toward North Compo.

Now anything goes. Parking spaces are narrower than ever. Drivers are more distracted. CVS is always packed. And that’s just for starters.

Note the two — two! — cars entering the CVS lot the wrong way.

So here is today’s “06880” challenge. It’s probably a fool’s errand, but let’s say you had a chance to redesign Compo Shopping Center. What would you do?

You can reimagine the entire, horrific property: The tiny traffic island at the middle entrance that many folks ignore. The entrance itself, a few maddening yards away from its counterpart at Trader Joe’s. The cut-through to the back lot. The one-way hill leading to the Humane Society (which is moving soon, to Wilton). The rear lot. The traffic flow. The stores themselves.

You name it — it’s all on the table.

One way to solve the problem of narrow parking spaces.

This is a great country. We just launched a space telescope 100 times more powerful than its already impressive predecessor. We developed, manufactured and distributed a vaccine to combat COVID all in 13 months, even if some people are too batshit stupid to take it. We can do whatever we put our minds to.

Even fix Compo Shopping Center.*

Click “Comments” below to provide your solution. The winner gets a free coffee at Dunkin’.

There’s lots of room in the underutilized back lot — though people park poorly there too.

*We’ll leave Compo Acres — the Trader Joe’s lot — for another time.

Roundup: Dunkin’, Yardbirds, Wakeman …

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Dunkin’ or Starbucks? We’ve got 3 of each in town, spread from one end of Westport to the other.

Dunkin’ fans will have more room to enjoy their coffee and donuts in March. That’s when the “middle” shop moves from its current location (across from Fresh Market). The new site is just a few yards away, and across the street: the Compo Shopping Center property last occupied by Compo Barbers, and an adjacent (also vacant) storefront.

Jim Cain Jr. confirmed the move to “06880” yesterday. His company owns dozens of Dunkin’s in the area, including the one in Bridge Square. That one will remain open.

So will Westport’s 3rd Dunkin’, on Post Road East (next to Layla’s Falafel). It’s owned by a different franchisee. (Hat tip: Westport Journal)

PS: Scratching your head over the 3rd Starbuck’s location (besides downtown, and the drive-thru opposite Carvel)? There’s the one inside Stop & Shop. Pro tip: There’s never a line there.

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Among the many famous bands to play at Staples High School — the Doors, to drop one name — the Yardbirds may not ring a bell. But the band featured Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. And they begat Led Zeppelin.

Clapton was not part of the Yardbirds when they came to Staples in 1966. But Page and Beck were.

A photo of the guitar giants tuning up backstage — in what was then, and still is, the high school choral room — appears in a new book, Led Zeppelin: The Biography:

What’s even more impressive is that the image was taken by a young New York photographer, who’d heard that the Yardbirds were about to play their first-ever US concert. She picked up her camera, and drove up to Westport for the show.

Her name: Linda Eastman. Today of course, she is known as Linda McCartney — Paul’s wife. (Hat tip: Ken Goldberg)

FUN FACT: Eric Clapton did eventually play at Staples too. He was there with his new group the next year: Cream.

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Speaking of donuts (as we were above): After enjoying your treat, you might want to work out.

Westport’s newest gym has the intriguing, if somewhat unappetizing, name of “Club Sweat.” It’s the second location — the first is in Greenwich — for what its owners call “the original group elliptical workout … (but) Club Sweat is more than just a workout. It’s a lifestyle. We sweat together, have fun and work towards our fitness goals together to beat- driven classes and of one-of-a-kind playlists. We’re led through a fun choreographed workout by amazing, talented instructors who motivate and challenge us to have fun while doing something good for ourselves.”

Club Sweat will open soon, in the Fresh Market plaza.

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Wakeman Town Farm welcome the new year with a pair of exciting new programs. University of Connecticut master gardener Alice Ely will teach both.

In the “Winter Sowing Workshop” (January 10, 7 to 8 p.m.), students will learn how to make a “mini-greenhouse” in a bottle. Leave it outside until spring; then reap a dozen or more native milkweed seedlings to start in your garden. Collect or save bottles now (clear 1- or 2-liter soda bottles or translucent half-gallon milk bottles are recommended.) Click here to register.

“Resolve to Compost” (January 24, 7 to 8 p.m.) will help you turn over a new leaf (ho ho) in 2022. Attendees will save water, reduce pollution and improve their gardens by making “black gold” at home. The class is for those new to composting, and those who want to up their skills. WTF will share some of its compost to get you started. Click here to register.

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Wildlife abounds here — nowhere more so than Sherwood Mill Pond. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows one of our favorite spots.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … The moment you read about the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, you know who’d be featured in today’s music video, right?

Unsung Heroes #124

On Sunday, I left at 6:30 a.m. for a statewide soccer coaches’ meeting in Wethersfield.

First I snagged a coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. Then I hit CVS, for the New York Times. (I read it online 6 days a week. For some reason, I still buy the dead-trees Sunday edition.)

It was early, so the woman behind the Dunkin’ register and the guy at CVS barely registered with me.

But as I drove north, I realized: They must have gotten up very early. They traveled here from wherever they lived (probably not Westport). They did all kinds of prep work. They served me efficiently and a smile, even though I scarcely made eye contact.

And they do that every single day.

Coffee with a smile!

I don’t know the name of the Dunkin’ woman, or the man at CVS. But I do know that they — and many others like them, at Starbuckses, gas stations, and plenty of other places around town — make our mornings much more tolerable.

So the next time you buy a coffee, bagel, newspaper, or anything else — especially if the sun is not yet up — thank the man or woman who hands it to you.

I know I will.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Pay To Park Between The White Lines

“06880” is full of photos of folks who park in the most ridiculous ways, wherever they please. Nothing ever happens to them.*

Last week, I p0sted a photo of yet another driver who plowed into yet another building. I wondered why it happens so often.

Today though, this poor car was doing all the right things. It was parked between 2 white lines. It had not jumped the curb.

Then — pow!

dunkin-donuts-delivery-truck-accident

(Photo/Merri Mueller)

A Dunkin’ Donuts delivery truck smacked into it.

And pushed it up against the building.

That’s life in Westport parking lots these days. Be careful out there.

*Except for public shaming on this blog.

Sign ‘Em Up

In the span of 12 hours last week, 2 alert readers emailed several shots of local signs.

In typical Westport fashion, they’re poles apart.

A woman named Victoria is not a big fan of the signs that have sprouted at Bridge Square.

She writes:

I know there was some concern when Dunkin’ Donuts moved in and had their flags. That was nothing compared with the eyesore that is on the corner now.

We are big fans of the new restaurants that have moved in and wish them lots of success, but hope they can modify their Pepsi advertising signage and their massive white board which seems more appropriate for a Holiday Inn conference. Do any local laws govern signage such as this?

A couple of miles away — geographically and philosophically — there’s Lloyd Allen. The owner of Double L Farm Stand is a big fan of creative, eye-catching and hand-made signs.

However, he says, the recent P&Z “clean sweep” of Post Road signs has forced him to remove some of his own. Right now they rest in front of his store — not, more visibly, nailed to nearby trees.

“The town takes its signs seriously,” he notes. But, he says — tongue only slightly in cheek — “If my sign said ‘Vote Grass Fed!’ that would be okay.

“Or ‘Still Lost: Free Range Chickens.”

Meanwhile, “the biggest signs of all are the ones that say ‘Space Available’ up and down the Post Road.”

“Count them,” Lloyd says, referring to the legal “For Rent” signs. “Go figure the logic behind it all.

“Of course, businesses can pay $80 for a minuscule chalk board sign that’s unreadable form a car going the posted speed limit.”

Lloyd believes each establishment should be allowed one sign. “Better that,” he says, “than going out of business.”

After which your landlord can put up a big, ginormous sign. Saying “Space Available.”

What’s Up With Doc’s

In the winter of 1997, Yvonne Dougherty rose early every morning to drive her son Peyton to Staples swim team practice.

On the way back she’d stop by Juba’s — the coffee shop in Peter’s Bridge Market, near her home — for a jolt of caffeine to start the day.

Then she got a job there.  It paid $7.50 an hour — but she quickly fell in love with the coffee business.

On September 11, 2000 she took over Juba’s lease.  For an investment of just a few thousand dollars, she had a steady business.  She took in $900 a day, with virtually no overhead.

Three and a half years later, the new owners of Peter’s Bridge “threw me out,” she says.

In less than a month, she opened a new place in a former boating just across Riverside Avenue.

Yvonne called it Doc’s, in honor of her last name — pronounced “Dockerty.”

Yvonne Dougherty, outside Doc's.

Her landlord — Sam Gault — was “phenomenal,” she says.  He kept her rent low, and helped any way he could.  He told her she could probably stay for 2 or 3 years.

Yvonne spent plenty of money — $250,000, she estimates — complying with town regulations.  She had to change the parking lot, and put in a sidewalk.

But customers — including, importantly, many commuters — loved Doc’s.  For much of the decade, she averaged $1,500 a day.

Then the economy tanked.  Starting in the fall of 2008, business tailed off precipitously.  The opening of a similar place — Cocoa Michelle — closer to the train station may also have hurt.

A year ago, construction began on the Saugatuck redevelopment project.  Winter — always slow — was particularly harsh.  Between road closures on Riverside Avenue, bad weather that kept people home, and uncertainty about whether Doc’s would stay open, business dropped 30 to 40 percent.

(Interestingly, Yvonne says, the new Dunkin’ Donuts at the site of the old Juba’s had no effect.)

Doc’s owner second-guesses herself for many of her problems.

“Even though I have an MBA from the University of Virgina — back in the Stone Age — I didn’t have a clue to market Doc’s.  Or even brand it,” she says.

“I missed the opportunity to be on the web.  And I could have rented out this place for parties more than I did.”

Yvonne adds, “When someone walks in your shop, they have to know what you’re selling.  I’ve got lots of tchotchkes here, but I think they distract people.  Some of my charm came back to bite me in the butt.”

Starbucks, she says, “may be sterile and boring.  But you know what they’re selling.”

Doc’s “would have been far more successful if I’d known I was going to be here for 8 years,” Yvonne says.  “I would have put in a kitchen.  I would have designed everything much better.”

With close to 2,000 square feet — 10 times her space at Juba’s — she says, “It was probably too much.”

Yvonne adds, “I was a one-woman show.  I learned you have to work on your business, not in it.”

The 2nd phase of Saugatuck’s redevelopment starts soon.  A retail/residential/office mix will replace the buildings in and around Ketchum Street — including Yvonne’s.

Doc’s last day is November 12.

“I wish I had a plan for what’s next,” Yvonne says.  She’s found a potential location in Southport — but she needs a partner.

Perhaps, she says, she can open Doc’s as a smaller space inside existing stores — the way she started, with Juba’s inside Peter’s Bridge.

But Peter’s Bridge is gone, and Yvonne can’t think of any other place in town that make sense.  “That’s my challenge — to find something that works,” she says.

She will miss her customers.  Many have been very loyal.

“I see people in town, and I think, ‘that’s a medium latte,” she says.  “That’s a pretty bizarre skill.”

Meanwhile, the clock ticks for Doc’s.

“I’ve got to figure out something soon,” Yvonne says.