Tag Archives: Dunville’s

Slicing Up Saugatuck

The 6th annual Slice of Saugatuck was the best yet.

Perfect late-summer weather; a record number of 50-plus restaurants and businesses, and a large, relaxed crowd enjoyed an afternoon of strolling, eating, music, eating, shopping, eating, kids’ activities, and eating.

Thanks go to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, plus the Slice’s many sponsors.

And congrats to the Gillespie Food Pantry: recipient of some of today’s funds.

Here’s what the Slice looked like, starting and ending at Bridge Square:

Owner Bill Taibe (right) and his Kawa Ni staff served Japanese delicacies (and drinks).

Firefighters at the Saugatuck station promoted fire safety (and offered a seat in their very cool truck).

The Whelk offered some delicacies …

… while a few feet away on the riverfront plaza, the Silver Steel Band played.

Matt Storch dished out fries. The Staples High School graduate’s new Match Burger Lobster restaurant opens in 2 weeks.

Socks — a face painter — came from Norwalk.

The Funicello family’s Tutti’s is always a Slice of Saugatuck favorite.

Mersene — owner of the very popular Indulge by Mersene — welcomed Railroad Place Slice-goers with her typically funky goods.

Every kid loves a bounce house.

A tae kwan do place lured passersby with this inflatable guy.

The Slice included Saugatuck Avenue too. Here’s the mouth-watering scene at Dunville’s.

All roads led to the Slice of Saugatuck. If you’re reading this before 5 p.m. — there’s still time. After 5, several restaurants extend the fun with specially priced menus.

Reed Collyer Catering Closes

A decade ago, the need for a new kitchen brought Reed Collyer to Westport.

The Stamford-based caterer found a great spot on Saugatuck Avenue, in the same plaza as Dunville’s. Five years later, she added 1,000 more square feet.

She opened a retail area too, for farm-to-table client dinners and wine tastings.

Reed Collyer

Reed Collyer

Westport was good to Reed. Her work ranged from a big holiday party for Terex at the Westport Country Playhouse, to an intimate wedding at Compo Beach.

Reed’s clients quickly became friends — and admirers. One day, Betsy Phillips posted on Facebook that she was “feeling crummy.” Reed immediately sent 3 pints of fresh soup to Betsy’s door.

Reed has loved working alongside her husband, Mark Sharon — he’s the chef. But with 3 kids — ages 15, 13 and 10 — the demands of life have become “hard to synchronize” with a business whose busiest times are nights and weekends.

So Reed is closing her business. She’s changing the name from Collyer Catering to Collyer Events. She’ll focus 90% on event planning and decor. The 10% that is food will come out of a satellite kitchen. Clients — er, friends — say they will miss her Saugatuck location dearly.

She has to vacate her space by Sunday. Anyone interested in purchasing her kitchen equipment can email rcollyer@collyercatering.com.

A Post-Apocalyptic Saugatuck

The back cover of Flesh & Wires — a new science fiction book just published by Jackie Hatton — reads:

Following a failed alien invasion the world is left sparsely populated with psychologically scarred survivors, some of them technologically-enhanced women. Lo, leader of the small safe haven of Saugatuck,…

Whoa! Does our little town star in a very intriguing work by that rare species: a female science fiction writer?

Yep.

Jackie Hatton

Jackie Hatton

Hatton — an Australian who grew up in Tasmania, earned a master’s in American history in Melbourne, and a Ph.D. in the same subject at Cornell — landed here when her husband got a job in Stamford. They knew Westport was a beautiful town, and heard it was “open-minded and open-hearted.” They bought their 1st house on Treadwell Avenue in 1998, attracted by the nearby water.

Hatton was a freelance writer, which worked well. She wrote all morning, then had lunch on the beach. She wrote again in the afternoon, and grabbed dinner somewhere in the neighborhood. Some days, she gardened — and thought.

She and her husband planted a small apple orchard. She calls it “a charmed and charming period” in their lives.

“We spent perhaps too many happy hours in Viva’s and Dunville’s,” she laughs. But she volunteered at the Westport Historical Society, and met friends through New Neighbors.

With Turkish friends, they bought a boat and spent every summer weekend on the Sound.

When Hatton and  her husband were bored, they played a game: “Looking for Keith Richards.” They’d head to lively bars with great music, like the Georgetown Saloon. They never found him.

Jackie Hatton's beloved house on Treadwell Avenue.

Jackie Hatton’s beloved house on Treadwell Avenue.

They moved in 2003 for work reasons — first to a minimalist place in New York City, then to the magical old streets and canals of Amsterdam. They’re still in the Netherlands, but Hatton calls Westport “the most beautiful place I have ever lived.”

The town remained vivid in her mind. Hatton always wanted to set a story here. She began writing a murder mystery, but that genre in a New England setting seemed like a cliche.

One day, rooting around for a more original premise, she recalled the one thing she’d always found strange about Westport: “there are no men there during the day.” Suddenly, she wondered: What if all the men were not just at work in New York?

Then she realized: If the men never came home, the place would still run. Women already maintain the properties, organize the activities and run errands all day long.

They manage many shops, and the small businesses operating out of big homes: freelance consultancies, part-time practices and the like.

Flesh & WiresHatton kept thinking: How would women handle a real crisis? So she added aliens.

Despite their circumstances, the women in Flesh & Wires — who have created an oasis of civilization in Saugatuck — still care about home decoration, gardening, cooking, dancing and clothes. She included those details because she believes that making things beautiful can be a way of “dealing with darkness and difficulties.” How women spend their time is a serious thread throughout the book.

Of course, Hatton has a few laughs too. She turns a nail salon into a military training center. She also enjoys demolishing I-95.

Her book includes the cute little 19th-century cottage that was their old house; Saugatuck Rowing Club and Longshore; Mansion Clam House and Peter’s Bridge Market (both now gone).

The Bridge Street bridge — which may or may not be gone long before the apocalypse — serves as a major checkpoint into town. Downtown has been flooded into oblivion. And Cockenoe Island serves as a prison.

The Bridge Street bridge: While Westporters debate its future, Jackie Hatton turns it into a post-apocalyptic checkpoint into and out of Saugatuck.

The Bridge Street bridge: While Westporters debate its future, Jackie Hatton turns it into a post-apocalyptic checkpoint.

“I’m interested to hear if Westporters find post-apocalyptic Saugatuck beautiful or horrific,” she says. “I love the new park I created, but I hate the idea of living in fear behind fortified walls.”

So what’s next, in the pre-apocalyptic real world?

“My great fantasy is that Hollywood buys the movie rights to Flesh & Wires,” Hatton says. “And then pays me to spend the summer on location in my favorite place in the world.”

More realistically, she hopes that promotional activities bring her back to Westport soon.

“There’s a margarita waiting for me at Viva’s,” she notes. “And a bar stool at Dunville’s with my name on it.”

(Click on www.jackiehatton.net to learn more about the author and her book — including a feature on how she uses Westport settings.)

Remembering Kevin Brawley

Kevin Brawley — the easygoing owner of a number of popular Westport restaurants — died this past weekend. He was 59 years old.

2178700 (1)Kevin was a wrestler at Bedford Junior High and Staples High School (Class of 1973). Later, he and Danny Horelick opened Dunville’s, on Saugatuck Avenue. It quickly became one of Westport’s favorite gathering spots.

Kevin’s next venture was Tavern on Main. Decades later, little has changed from his original vision.

He later opened the River House on Riverside Avenue.

Tavern on MainKevin worked — and enjoyed — long hours at his businesses. He mentored dozens of employees, who themselves went on to own many local restaurants.

Friend, classmate and former wrestling teammate Chip Stephens says:

Kevin will be remembered for his gravelly voice and infectious laugh, his smile and being a host with the most, his huge circle of friends, and his ability to create and run dining and drinking establishments. Two of them still exist after decades — something very rare today.

 

Hey, Guest Bartender!

If restaurants can have a guest chef, I guess bars can have a guest bartender.

Today (Thursday, November 13, 8 p.m.) Steve Schneider slips into that role at Dunville’s.

It’s a way of celebrating the renovations the popular Saugatuck spot has made. Co-owner Stephen Carpentieri calls it “Dunville’s 2.o.”

“Carpi” and Schneider are no strangers to each other. They co-starred in “Hey Bartender,” the award-winning documentary directed by Doug Tirola and produced by Susan Bedusa. Both are longtime Westporters.

Steve Schneider

Steve Schneider

The film examines the 2 Steves — Schneider and Carpentieri — as they try to achieve their dreams through bartending. It’s available on Showtime, Netflix and iTunes.

Since the theatrical release, Schneider has flown to London, Berlin, Russia, Asia and Australia. He’s guest-bartended at the top spots in the world.

Tonight he adds Dunville’s to the list.

 

Ho Ho Ho! They’ll Drink To That!

Seventy or so Santa Clauses — and a few random Mrs. Clauses, elves and Grinches — descended on Saugatuck Center this afternoon.

They drank, ate and ambled their way — no sleighs allowed, not after all that beer! — from Dunville’s to the Whelk, then Viva’s, Rizzuto’s and the Duck. Dessert was at Saugatuck Sweets.

The price to party: $100. Plus, you had wear a costume. There were some very serious Santas today.

It was all for a great cause: Adam’s Camp, a special summer spot for children with special needs.

Everywhere the merry group went, traffic stopped. It was as if no one has ever seen 70 Santas drinking their way through Saugatuck before.

Kelly and Drew Schuette, who organized this afternoon's Santa pub crawl.

Kelley and Drew Schuette, who organized this afternoon’s Santa pub crawl. More shots are below.

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Nearly everyone made it to the plaza outside the Whelk for a group shot. A few were still inside, enjoying their beers and oysters.

Nearly everyone made it to the plaza outside the Whelk for a group shot. A few were still inside, enjoying their beers and oysters.

Hey, Bartender!

Steve Carpentieri is a former VP of Citigroup. Around Westport though, the Staples grad is best known for his long ownership of Dunville’s — for 30 years Saugatuck’s version of Cheers.

Soon, moviegoers across the country will also know “Carpi.”

According to press notes for “Hey Bartender” — a new documentary written, directed and produced by Westporter Douglas Tirola — Dunville’s serves “both the working class and the white-collar communities of Westport, CT.”

Bartender logoHowever, “with the changing landscape of the economy, the industry, and the town, Dunville’s went from being the ‘it’ bar in town to a place trying to stay successful.”

Both his business and personal life cause stress. Carpi’s dream of running a bar is never easy.

The film — which more broadly examines bartenders “and the cocktail culture” — premiered at South By Southwest Film Festival in March. It opens tonight at New York’s Village East, spreads soon to LA, then rolls out nationwide.

Doug — a Staples grad who earned an MFA at Columbia — had to shoot at Dunville’s without intruding on the crowded, lively bar. He wanted to let Carpi’s life “unfold in real time, right in front of the camera,” while allowing audiences to experience the life of a bartender.

The wet hands, cutting fruit, mixing cocktails, dealing with regulars (and drunks), counting tips, getting people out the door at the end of the night — it’s all there in “Hey Bartender.”

Doug’s goal was to show what drives people to become bartenders; how they fit into their community, and how their lives (and communities) are changing.

(From left) Steve Carpentieri, Susan Bedusa and Doug Tirola at the "Hey Bartender" premiere.

(From left) Steve Carpentieri, Susan Bedusa and Doug Tirola at the “Hey Bartender” premiere.

Here’s a review from IndieWire:

Because of the history involved in the major-league-level cocktail mixing — the drinks and techniques themselves often have a kind of Gilded-Age air about them — there’s a lot of fashion in “Hey Bartender.”

What’s probably good is that Tirola shows the other side of the bar biz — Steve Carpentieri, who owns a joint in Westport, Conn., called Dunville’s, is struggling: Drinking is down, drunk-driving penalties are up, and his kind of local watering hole is an endangered species (there’s a great scene of Carpentieri quashing a bar-fight-to-be and imposing tough love on a couple of unruly regulars). So he starts exploring the idea of transforming his place into a more cocktail-oriented establishment, which of course enables Tirola (and us) to tag along.

In addition to Carpi and Doug, local connections include Westporter (and Staples grad) Susan Bedusa. She’s a vice president of 4th Row Films, “Hey Bartender”‘s producer.

A bit more of a stretch: Commentary comes from Danny Meyer, owner of our town’s Shake Shack (among others).

If you’ve never been to Dunville’s — or haven’t been for a while — this movie may make you want to visit Westport’s own Cheers.

Based on previews, big-time mixologists and bartenders have already headed there.


(Click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube.)

Today’s Lovely Slice Of Life

Spectacular weather. Toe-tapping music. Plenty of room to roam.

And tons of food from more restaurants than anyone realized could be packed into one small area. Cuisine ranged from American, Mexican, seafood and health food to Chinese, Indian and — of course; this is Saugatuck — Italian.

This afternoon’s Slice of Saugatuck was a perfect late-summer Saturday event. That resurgent community shone, from the river to the railroad, along the bustling streets and Bridge Square.

Proceeds from the $5 entry fee  went to the Gillespie food pantry.

How’s that for a great slice of Westport life?

Music — not train horns or garbled announcements — filled the station air today.

Two youngsters demonstrated tae kwan do in Luciano Park.

Dunville’s was one of 24 restaurants offering free food. The sliders were a big hit.

Attending a street fair can be stressful. Saugatuck Studios offered free massages, near their Bridge Square location.

Free kayaks brought plenty of people to Down Under’s riverside dock.

The Temperature Of Westport

When it comes to nightlife, “cool” and “hot” mean the same thing.

These days, Westport’s nightlife can be summed up in one word: “not.”

Two hip-but-nerdy researchers recently unveiled a means of measuring cool hot spots based on things like film screenings, concerts, gallery openings and fashion shows.

It examined only two cities — New York and L.A. — but once upon a time Westport had nightlife too.  There were movie theaters (five!), concerts (The Doors, Yardbirds and Cream all played here) and galleries.

Sure, we had a fashion show just last month.  The models were Staples football players and cheerleaders.  No offense but, I mean, no one confused it with Project Runway.

These days, Westport’s nightlife is confined to a tiny triangle of restaurant/bars:  the Black Duck, Viva’s and Dunville’s.  Call ’em by their initials:  BVD.

That sums up Westport’s sad night scene, doesn’t it?  No one wears BVDs anymore.

It’s time to toss off our briefs.  Westport:  Move into a boxers world!