After a week of relentlessly grim news, this will bring a smile to your face:
Joey’s by the Shore is partnering with Elvira Mae’s. The joint venture brings the burgers, fries, lobster rolls (and much more) that Joey Romeo served for over 30 years as Compo Beach concessionaire, to the Hillspoint Road spot known for great coffee, bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches, soft-serve ice cream (and much more).
“Joey’s by the Shore, Featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffee Bar” opens April 3 (COVID-19 guidance permitting).
Joey Romeo and Betsy Kravitz, in their Hillspoint Road spot. The table is from Joey’s by the Shore at Compo Beach.
Joey and Betsy Kravitz — who took over Elvira’s, across from Old Mill Beach, last year — are mindful of the coronavirus.
“We’re monitoring the situation,” Joey says. “Health and safety are our number one concerns. We won’t put anyone at risk.”
Betsy points to the ice cream window as a way to minimize social interactions. She and Joey will also make sure the store does not get crowded.
And because there’s no cash exchanged — all payment is by credit card, Apple or Samsung Pay, or house accounts — that’s one less point of contact to worry about.
The idea for the 50/50 partnership began in November, almost as soon as Joey’s 31-year partnership with the town ended. (He also ran the Longshore pool, skating rink and halfway house concessions.)
“It opened our mind to possibilities,” Betsy says. They did not know each other well — each was busy running their own operations last summer — but when they met, they had “great chemistry.”
The menu will include nearly all of Joey’s favorites — and those Betsy’s customers loved too. In addition, there are to-go items for impromptu sunset-watching, like cheese, crackers and olives.
Joey’s Featuring Elvira Mae’s will be open 7 days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to sunset, all year long.
The staff will include familiar faces from Joey’s and Elvira Mae’s. Both were known for friendly, hard-working high school and college students.
The new Joey’s by the Shore will stock non-food items familiar from the beach, like towels, sunscreen and hoodies. They’ll sell flowers too.
As well as grocery staples: eggs, milk, butter, paper towels. And — key, in these COVID-19 days — toilet paper.
Joey’s old sign hangs in his new digs.
For the past 2 days Hillspoint Road has been crowded with walkers, joggers and bicyclists. We’re all eager to get outside, clear our heads and forget about the coronavirus for a while.
Soon we’ll have a friendly, welcoming — and safe — spot to stop, along the way.
(For more information, including house accounts, click here.)
Last week’s story about the new house rising on the site of the old Positano restaurant drew many comments. The site — kitty corner from Elvira Mae’s — is one of the most cherished in Westport.
One reader complained that the new structure blocks views of the public water. She implied that it ruined “a half mile of a walk along the beach on a sidewalk.”
Artists’ rendering of the house going up at 233 Hillspoint Road.
In fact, that ship sailed long ago.
What once was a lovely view — from Schlaet’s Point at the end of Soundview (where Hillspoint Road turns into South Compo), along the gentle curve and on toward Old Mill — has been privatized.
A large home at 261 Hillspoint replaced an open-air boathouse. One of Westport’s first mammoth faux stone walls sealed the house — and the view — off from passersby. (It’s now on the market. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.)
The stone wall at 261 Hillspoint Road.
More recently, a wooden fence and high hedge have hidden all of Old Mill Beach, and that part of the Sound, from nearly everyone’s eyes.
A small section of beach — owned by Hillspoint residents across the street — has always been private. But until the last few years — 10, maybe? — it was bordered only by an unobtrusive chain link fence. Now there’s a green equivalent of the Berlin Wall.
There are a few breaks in the obstructed view from #261 to Old Mill, of course. A small public access road provides relief; so does the clear view from #254 across the street.
The unobstructed view across from 254 Hillspoint.
A break for a beach view.
But that’s it, until you get to the public Old Mill Beach.
Last week’s “06880” story also generated comments about the sidewalk. Readers worried that it will be removed from the new house, forcing walkers into the street.
The property owner assures Westporters there will be a sidewalk in front.
Sidewalks have concerned residents and visitors for years.
A couple of years ago, Robin Tauck — who owns the beautiful new beach house directly across from Elvira Mae’s — paid for a sidewalk survey. She worried about people walking in the road, right past her driveway.
The roadway opposite Elvira Mae’s.
A sidewalk extension from 233 Hillspoint Road to Old Mill Beach is in the works. Plans are done. The town is waiting for a state grant.
Hundreds of folks walk in that area daily. With the opening of Elvira Mae’s ice cream window, foot traffic has increased dramatically. When — er, if — a sidewalk is built there, it will be an important safety addition.
Meanwhile, folks will continue to stroll from there to Compo Beach. They can say what they want about the view — when Positano was there, and now during residential construction.
But they can’t say it’s the only thing blocking their view.
Elvira Mae’s opened last week. It took exactly that long for them to jump into their first great help-a-community-member fundraiser.
Lisa Laudico is a Westporter with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She’s fighting the disease — and fighting to help others. With the Southport-based Cancer Couch Foundation, she co-founded the #Reason4FreezinMBC social media challenge.
It’s simple: Video yourself eating anything cold hands-free. Nominate 4 people, and donate to MBC research. 100% of all proceeds go to researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, and Dana Farber in Boston.
The campaign launched earlier this month on the “Today Show.” Al Roker — and Westport’s own Craig Melvin — challenged other celebrities. Among them: Westporter Jane Green, who nominated Elin Hildebrand and Robin Roberts.
That’s where Elvira Mae’s comes in.
Today (Saturday, July 13, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), volunteers will sit outside the Old Mill deli. They’ll hand out flyers, and offer to video anyone doing the challenge. Elvira Mae’s is donating a portion of all ice cream sales to the campaign.
Anhtropologie is helping too. Volunteers will be outside the Church Lane store, doing the same. They’ll hand out popsicles too.
There’s no solicitation of money or checks. Donations can be texted (“freezembc”) to 44321.
Elvira Mae’s and Anthropologie picked a great day to help. This weekend, a challenge grant — in Lisa’s honor — means that every dollar raised becomes $4.
Lost in all the excitement of yesterday’s fireworks was a celebration of a different kind: the return of a deli that doubles as a community center.
Elvira Mae’s — the new incarnation of the long-loved Elvira’s — had been all set to open. Owners Betsy and Hal Kravitz were shooting for before the fireworks.
Once the final piece was in place — a new grease trap (“not that we’ll have much grease,” Betsy notes) — the CO was issued.
At 3:05 yesterday afternoon, the first ice cream cone was handed through the new window.
And quickly devoured.
The ice cream window is an instant hit. (Photo/Robin Tauck)
Betsy proved her local love by giving free food to everyone working for the fireworks (plus Tootsie Rolls to the kids).
Elvira Mae’s will be closed tomorrow, for finishing touches on the interior. But it will open for real Saturday morning at 7. The breakfast menu includes coffee (with a full espresso machine), hot and cold drinks, bagels, pastries, eggs, smoothies and yogurt.
And yes: The egg sandwich will taste exactly the same as before. Elvira’s cook returns to Elvira Mae’s.
Owner Betsy Kravitz, with her gleaming new espresso machine.
House accounts return too. Someone just plunked down $100 for the first one.
The deli will be open till 4, serving sandwiches and other fresh food — all made to order, on the grill.
The ice cream window — already a favorite — is open until 9 p.m.
Betsy has not missed a trick. Just above the candy in the back, the wall sports all those kids’ photos that for years sat under the front counter glass. There are pictures too of Stacy, Niki and the rest of the original Elvira’s owners.
Candy and kids’ photos ..
Plus a (non-working) pay phone. It’s an homage to decades ago, when the market had the only phone around. When the phone rang the owner walked outside, yelled someone’s name, then waited for that person to walk over and take the call.
… and the original owners’ photos, alongside the (non-working) pay phone.
In the new Elvira Mae’s, Betsy and Hal’s relatives all pitch in. They believe in her mission: to make everyone feel welcome.
As anyone who’s been to Elvira Mae’s can attest: She already has.
A classic scene returns, updated. (Photo/Fred Cantor)
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