Tag Archives: Fairfield County bank

Unsung Heroes #239

The ink is still drying on the contract. Supply chain issues are delaying some equipment. The operator has not yet been finalized.

But the Old Mill Grocery lives!

For a couple of years, the future of the market/deli/community center on Hillspoint Road by Old Mill Beach was in doubt. The small, century-old wooden building could have been sold to developers, who were hungry to tear it down and replace it with a (very) high-priced home.

But Hal and Betsy Kravitz — owners of Joey’s by the Shore, the most recent iteration of what was previously Elvira’s, Kenny’s and (originally) the Old Mill Grocery — were willing to listen to the community.

Hal and Betsy Kravitz, after buying Elvira’s.

They worked with Jim Hood, Ian Warburg, Chris Tait and Emily Ashken Zobl — Westporters with long ties to the area — to save the deli.

Tom Febbraio — the Fairfield restaurateur who grew up around the corner — helped get a mortgage from Fairfield County Bank.

From left: Ian Warburg, Jim Hood and Emily Ashken Zobl helped organize the project. When this photo was taken, Chris Tait was out in the street soliciting donations.

A few folks pitched in big bucks. Scores of residents (and former residents) added whatever they could.

When mortgage negotiations took (surprise!) longer than expected, Hal and Betsy extended their deadline.

Now Old Mill Grocery and Deli — OMG! — lives. It will open this summer, probably with a soft launch.

Employees will include people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Bill and Andrea Pecoriello — owners of Sweet P Bakery and The Porch @ Christie’s, which helped pioneer that hiring model locally — are important supporters.

After nearly a century, the original name will be back.

It’s a win-win-win, feel good story.

So Jim, Ian, Chris, Emily, Tom, Bill and Andrea are all this week’s Unsung Heroes. And if you contributed any funds to the cause — $10,000 or $10 — you join them as honorees.

In a town and world “starved” for good news, this takes the cake.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email 06880blog@gmail.com)

Farmers’ Market Vendors Grow Food — And Businesses

Westport Farmers’ Market asks a lot of its vendors. In return for space at the Imperial Avenue lot every Thursday from May to November, the nearly 3 dozen sellers of fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, coffee, meat and more must post about the market every week on social media; adhere to certain sign regulations, and participate in the market’s community service programs.

So, director Lori Cochran wondered last year, what was the Farmers’ Market doing to help those vendors?

Looking around, the energetic, forward-thinking director realized that while some businesses like Nothin’ But had shot to the top — thanks to solid financing and a strong business model, the maker of granola bars and cookies now sells in airports and to Whole Foods — others just moseyed along.

“They’re beautiful at creating what they do,” Lori says. “But they don’t have the time or the expertise to really grow.”

Westport Farmers' Market vendors are great at what they do. Director Lori Cochran wants to help them expand.

Westport Farmers’ Market vendors are great at what they do. Director Lori Cochran wants to help them expand.

Lori has a soft spot for mom-and-pop companies. “Our country was founded on them. And they’re still crucial.”

This year, Westport Farmers’ Market rolled out a 3-pronged educational program. Sessions are held at Sugar & Olives, the very cool restaurant/bar/ cooking school/event space just over the Norwalk line.

Sessions last 2-3 hours, and include general information followed by private, 1-on-1 meetings. Of course, they’re free.

Fairfield County Bank offered a session on finance. Topics included loans and micro-financing. It was so successful, a follow-up focusing on taxes is planned for fall.

An insurance broker will talk about changes in that industry, while next month the Cohen and Wolf law firm discusses ideas like whether a vendor should become an LLC.

September brings a session on social media, courtesy of CT Bites’ Stephanie Webster.

The Westport Farmers' Market is held every Thursday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) at the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot.

The Westport Farmers’ Market is held every Thursday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) at the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot.

All presentations are pro bono. “These people are great,” Lori says. “They come in as educators, not salesmen. They understand our mission: helping the community. And the community includes our vendors, not just our shoppers.”

She has watched with joy as the Farmers’ Market businesses learn about — well, business.

“They’re talking to each other, and sharing ideas,” she says. “Our vendors are forming a real community.

“This is such a simple program. But it’s actually accomplishing a lot.”

You Can Bank On It

The good news is:  Fairfield County Bank, opening next month at the formerly wooded corner of the Post Road and South Compo, looks neither new nor ugly.  In fact, it seems like it’s been there forever.

The bad news:  It’s a bank.

Bank On It

“06880” reader Bob Stoebe spotted this sign in front of Settlers & Traders on Post Road West:  “Coming Soon — Fairfield County Bank.”

Awesome news!  It’s been 12 hours since another bank was announced in Westport.  I was worrying we’d have no new spots to put the money we don’t have.

Bob also noticed that the clock in front of Webster Bank (Colonial Green) shows different times on each face.  Not that it matters; it doesn’t work anyway.

“It’s hard to trust a bank with your money when they can’t even keep a clock working,” Bob observes.

broken clock