Tag Archives: Fleishers Craft Butchery

Roundup: Mariangela Lisanti, Maserati, Staples Class of ’52 …

In 2001, Mariangela was a Staples High School rock star.

The senior won the national Siemens Westinghouse Science & Technology Competition. And the Intel Science Talent Search (where she met President Bush). Each came with a $100,000 scholarship (!).

But she did not stop there. Mariangela was captain of the Staples math team, founder and captain of the engineering team, concertmaster of the Chamber and Symphonic Orchestras, and the recipient of honors in Italian and Spanish (both of which she is fluent in.) Of course, she was valedictorian.

Then, at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in San Jose, California, the Harvard-bound graduate was awarded the Glenn Seaborg Nobel Prize Visit Award — earning a trip to the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm.

So what is Mariangela up to these days?

She earned a Ph.D. from Stanford in 2010, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science. She’s been on the physics faculty at Princeton University since then.

A theoretical particle physicist by training, her research focuses on the nature of dark matter. Mariangela’s interdisciplinary work incorporates ideas from astrophysics and data science. Currently, she’s focusing on how variations of the Cold Dark Matter paradigm affect galactic and sub-galactic scale observables.

So why today’s “06880” shout-out?

She’s just been named a Simons Foundation Investigator. This too is a very big deal.

The Simons Investigators program supports outstanding theoretical scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions, providing leadership and mentoring junior scientists.

Simons Investigators are appointed for 5 years, renewable for another 5. Each Investigator receives research support of $100,000 per year. An additional $10,000 per year is provided to the Investigator’s department

Congratulations, Mariangela. You continue to make Staples, and Westport, proud.

Keep rockin’ the world! (Hat tip: Steve Stein)

Mariangela Lisanti

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Speaking of Staples: Sunday’s “06880” Roundup gave a shout-out to the Class of 1962. They celebrated their 60th year reunion at the Ned Dimes Marina.

But they’re mere children, compared to the Class of ’52. Let’s hear it for them!

Nine alums just enjoyed their 70th (!) reunion at Rive Bistro — not far from their old high school, on Riverside Avenue. (Today it’s Saugatuck Elementary).

Ed Backus — a 1948 graduate — joined them, making them feel very young.

The class has met every 5 years since graduation day: Friday the 13th, 1952. “Our Staples ties are strong!” says Jess Thompson Huberty.

They are indeed. Hail, Staples! Hail, Class of ’52!

Staples High School Class of 1952 at Rive Bistro: Seated (from left):Lu List Morris, Susan Stokes. Middle row: Roxanne Gette Martin, Barbara Hendricks Chamberlain, Jess Thompson Huberty, Sonja Messelt Ziluca, Don Switter, Ed Backus. Rear: Bill Gault. Sending regrets: Bev Breault, Lynn Lucke Lutkin, Steven Miller, Concetta Palazzo Fedak, Mary Ellen Kottgen McKenna.

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The Maserati owner figured he’d be okay on Sunday. His car stuck just a yard or two past the “No Parking” sign on Hillspoint Road, coming from Compo Beach toward Old Mill.

The sign is there for a reason. It’s a dangerous spot. This happened next:

(Photos/Jerry Kuyper)

But that’s not the end of the story.

As of yesterday afternoon — 72 hours later — the very expensive convertible was still there.

(Photo/John Richers)

And debris from its body still littered the road.

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Speaking of parking, how about this trifecta near Gaetano’s?

The driver is:

  1. Facing the wrong way
  2. Next to a “No Parking” sign, which is right by a …
  3. Fire hydrant.

Must have been a deli emergency!

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The Westport Journal has a new executive editor. Thane Grauel succeeds Jarret Liotta in the top post at the year-old online news site July 1. Liotta will focus on photography and video projects.

Grauel has been a reporter at the Westport News, managing editor at the Westport Minuteman and editor of The Hour, among other publications.

“The news business is so different now,” he told “06880.” “At the Westport News we had 5 guys covering Town Hall, plus sports, business, entertainment and real estate. The chains have gobbled everything up. People are not being served like before.”

However, Grauel says, “Westport is one of the best-covered towns in Connecticut, online. People here are really engaged. They want to know what’s going on.”

Grauel is a 4th-generation Westporter, though after Kings Highway Elementary School his family moved to Milford. He graduated from the University of Connecticut, and is a Navy veteran.

Thane Grauel (Photo courtesy of Westport Journal)

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Speaking of writing:

Bilingual journalist and writer Camila Vallejo earns the first-ever Writer-in-Residence prize from Fairfield County Story Lab, the shared workspace in Saugatuck for creative types.

Vallejo covers housing and social justice issues for Connecticut Public Radio and WNPR, and is a member of Report for America. She has been a part-time producer for All Things Considered (read and hear some of her stories here).

The FC Story Lab’s Writer-in-Residence prize is for early-career writers. Vallejo’s residency will enable her to work for free at the Story Lab in Saugatuck. The Lab will install a new media suite, so she can record radio pieces there. While she reports statewide — including pieces on housing disparities in Fairfield County — she often files stories from a closet at home.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t unusual today,” says FC Story Lab co-founder Carol Dannhauser.

“Many media companies have trimmed their newsrooms and all but eliminated their bureaus. This means that young reporters, especially, can’t experience the alchemy that happens in a newsroom, where people bounce ideas off of each other and offer suggestions when stories hit a dead-end.”

During her 6-month residency, Vallejo will host 2 events for students and recent graduates interested in a career in journalism or media.

Camila Vallejo

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So how many jellybeans were in the Staples Tuition Grants contest?

41,330. The winning guess of 41,472 — off by just 142 — was by Emerson Watkins. In second place (41,501) was Sean Wagner. Both will receive gift certificates to their favorite Westport restaurant.

Hundreds of people entered the contest. Guesses ranged from 540 to 751,000.

STG plans to continue the contest next year. It’s another great (and fun) way to help raise some of the $400,000 that was given in scholarships to Staples seniors and alumni this year.

As you can see, there were 41,472 jellybeans here.

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Last summer, dozens of Fleishers Craft Butchery employees at 4 locations walked off the job after CEO John Adams removed Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride signs that workers had put in windows at the Westport store.

Though they had been there for months, a customer had only recently complained.

After the walkout, most employees quit. The shops remained closed until March, when one in Brooklyn reopened. Now it — the final store in what was once hailed as “the mecca of the good-meat movement,” with “rock star butchers” — has closed too.

New York magazine says that after the Westport incident — and the effects of COVID on, particularly, the Upper East Side location — “Fleishers never again found its footing.” Though owner Rob Rosania apologized and offered employees raises to return, the company was cooked.

With the final closing, you can put a fork in Fleishers. (Click here for the full New York magazine story. Hat tip: Tom Prince)

The Fleishers signs. (Photo courtesy of Chloe Sorvino, for Forbes)

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One store closes, another opens: Westport’s newest business is Wash The Dog. Angela Koza’s “self-service dog wash” just opened at 375 Post Road West.

There are 6 stainless steel tubs, so people can wash — and blow dry — their dogs. Full service grooming also available.

The grand opening is this Saturday (June 25). Arf!

Wash the Dog!

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Speaking of creatures, Dave Lowrie writes:

“I’ve been waiting to capture the right ‘Westport … Naturally’ photo. I think I have it: an early visitor to my compost pile.”

Bingo!

(Photo/Dave Lowrie)

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And finally … in honor of Mariangela’s galactic work (story above):

(Across the universe — well, across “06880” — readers contribute to keep us going. Please click here to help.)

BLM, LGBTQ Issues Cause Fleishers Closure

The abrupt closure of Fleishers Craft Butchery — temporarily “through August,” according to a sign in the Riverside Avenue window — surprised Westporters.

The reason may be even more surprising.

The New York Post reports that “dozens of workers reportedly walked off the job after the CEO removed Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ pride signs that employees had put in the storefront windows.” The story was first reported by Forbes.

The closure affects 4 stores: 2 each in Connecticut and New York.

According to the Post, the issue began last month. “Rob Rosania, a leading investor in the butcher, received a text from a pal in Westport, Conn. who was offended by BLM signs in the company’s local storefront, Forbes reported.”

The Fleishers signs on Riverside Avenue. (Photo courtesy of Chloe Sorvino, for Forbes)

“Rosania, a San Francisco-based real estate developer, reportedly called Fleisher’s CEO John Adams and told him to get rid of the signs.

“Adams, who’s just two months into the job, jumped on a train from New York to Fleisher’s stores in Westport and Greenwich to remove the signs himself, according to Forbes.”

As of yesterday, the signs hung in Fleishers’ Westport window.

At least half of Fleishers workforce are people of color, non-binary or LGBTQ, the Post says.

Click here for the full Forbes story; click here for the full New York Post story.

Vanity Fair Features Westport’s Essential Workers

Last month, it was “the party.” This week, the short-lived “pandemic drone.”

After 2 turns in the national media glare, the 3rd time’s the charm.

Today, Vanity Fair turns its spotlight on the men and women who keep Westport going in a pandemic..

Stephen Wilkes is a photographer and National Geographic Explorer. He’s documented endangered species and habitats, rising seas, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Ellis Island in decay and more.

He’s also a Westporter.

After hearing about a young Maryland woman infected by COVID-19 who was so devoted to working at a store that it killed her, he set out to photograph essential workers here.

He said “so many great, small mom-and-pop shops are making sure that everybody is okay right now. Without them, I don’t know what we’d do.”

Wilkes’ story includes photos of Gold’s Delicatessen, Carvel and Fleishers Craft Butchery, as well as EMS headquarters and a Metro-North train.

His photos — like the one below, of the Gold’s owners and staff, masked yet still offering curbside pickup behind yellow caution tape (the caption notes that owners Jim and Nancy Eckl celebrated their 37th anniversary “serving their devoted customers”) — are powerful.

And — after all the chatter about a party and a drone — the perfect way to start the weekend.

(Photo/Stephen Wilkes for Vanity Fair)

(For more photos, and the text, click here. Hat tip: Kerry Long)

Pop! Goes The Noodle Soup

Fleishers Craft Kitchen is gone.

But taking its place at Fleishers Craft Butchery is a pop-up soup kitchen.

North Shutsharawan and his wife Jillian run a bone broth and Thai noodle soup business — Nit Noi Provisions – based in Westport.

North Shutsharawan, in the kitchen.

All month long they’re selling those tasty soups — and a few lunch items — at Fleishers’ popular Saugatuck site.

The couple use pasture-raised animals (from Fleishers, of course) and organic vegetables sourced locally and sustainably.

You can eat in, or take out to braise your own meal.

But hurry! The pop-up shop is only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

And only through May!

Noodles in vegetable broth.

Meet M.EAT

When Saugatuck Center opened a few years ago, Saugatuck (now Fleishers) Craft Butchery helped deliver the buzz.

Now — as Bedford Square attempts to draw folks downtown — it’s adding its own field-to-table butcher shop.

M.EAT Organic Beef & Provisions opens this spring. The “old-school meat market with new school fundamentals” offers high-quality beef and lamb from Uruguay, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.

In addition to hand butchering, M.EAT will feature a “burger bar,” where customers can choose their own grind of meat types and fat content, accompanying organic cheeses and produce, as well as seasoning products, and cooking and equipment aids.

M.EAT will also carry domestic organic meat and chicken, with ingredients from local farmers and artisans.

It’s expected to open in late May.

Fleishers Craft Kitchen Closes; Butcher Shop Still Cuts It

Fleishers Craft Butchery co-founder and co-owner Ryan Fibiger posted this note on his website:

“I’m truly saddened to be closing Craft Kitchen. It’s been my place of worship for more than 3 years, and my kids have been raised on Chef Emily’s food. We have the most amazing staff in the business who have showcased how to prepare and serve REAL food for our loyal and generous patrons and friends. The restaurant and staff have been integral to teaching people how to prepare Meat Raised Right.

“However, we’ve always been a butcher shop first. We think that it’s time to get back to our roots and refocus on providing a truly remarkable customer experience.

“In the coming months you can expect to see us double down on the quality and customer service you’ve come to expect from Fleishers, with an added focus on convenience for busy families. We want to be the trusted advisor for anyone who chooses to eat meat, and it’s absolutely imperative that we teach people why they should care and to make it available (and convenient) for everyone.”

Ryan Fibiger, at work.

Fibiger said that with over 10 wholesale restaurant clients in Fairfield County, Fleishers Craft Butchery offers abundant options of ground beef, sausage, bones, offal and more. He adds:

“The culinary scene has come a long way in just a few years. We used to be one of a handful of restaurants that would even consider serving chicharonnes, beef fat fries or oxtail stew. We had to be our own outlet. Now we’re joined by a community of restaurateurs who recognize that buying well-raised meat isn’t just the right thing to do — it tastes better, too.

“We’re proud to call Chef Emily Mingrone a true friend, who demonstrates the passion and creativity necessary to design a menu celebrating our whole animal philosophy. Working alongside Emily over the years has been nothing short of an inspiration. From themed dinners to killer brunches, it was truly our pleasure to have her at the helm. Expect big things from Emily as she starts her own venture later this year.”

Chef Emily Mingrone

(Hat tip: Marcy Sansolo)

Ryan Fibiger Crafts Quite A Business

Less than 5 years ago, owner Ryan Fibiger was carrying a whole pig from his van to his new shop: Saugatuck Craft Butchery.

A startled passerby called the cops.

The officer who arrived heard Fibiger describe his new venture: a shop dedicated to “better sourcing and better butchery.” The world deserves a sustainable alternative to factory farming, he said, and he planned to lead the charge through innovative ideas and traditional practices.

The policeman was fascinated. He stayed, looked around, and became one more convert to the better-butcher-store cause.

Ryan Fibiger, at work.

Ryan Fibiger, hard at work.

A lot has changed since that November 2011 day. The store grew, moved across Riverside Avenue and expanded. Fibiger and partner Paul Nessel merged with Fleishers Craft Butchery, and took on the new name.

Perhaps most importantly, they educated customers about humane treatment of animals, hundreds of types of meat cuts, and the incredibly flavorful joys of cooking the craft butchery way.

Along the way, Fibiger’s store became first a pioneer, then a mainstay of the new Saugatuck Center — and a destination for food lovers throughout Fairfield County.

Including, improbably, plenty of former vegetarians.

fleishers-logoThe story begins when Fibiger realized he hated his work as a banker/consultant, and had to get out. He found a Kingston, New York company — Fleishers — that was  committed to the art of butchery as a means for improving and growing a strong food community.

He apprenticed for 6 months, then opened his own store. It was a small operation — just he, Nessel and a couple of employees — but it was fresh, different, and a key to the nascent redevelopment project on the Saugatuck River plaza.

Customers saw — in addition to the owner hauling a pig on his shoulder — whole lambs on the counter. All the butchering was done out in the open, in full view of the store.

Some people were horrified. But those who stuck around learned about a lost art.

“Westport really embraced us,” Fibiger says. “We grew up in this community.”

Westporters grew up too.

“Most people are disconnected from where their food comes from,” Fibiger notes. “They’re disconnected from meat itself. They see it in a nice package on the grocery shelf. They recognize a few cuts. But there are hundreds of them.”

Fleishers' high-quality meat...

Fleishers’ high-quality meat…

“Whole animal butchery” is based on an old European model. Older customers tell Fibiger, “I haven’t seen that in 50 years.”

Fleishers — the Westport shop is now part of 5 in the small chain — sources from “real farms,” not feed lots.

...comes from humanely raised livestock.

…comes from humanely raised livestock.

As the store grew, so did the area around it. The Whelk opened across the plaza; Saugatuck Craft developed a partnership with owner Bill Taibe.

At first, the Saugatuck location was a risk. No one was certain the new development would succeed.

But now it’s hot. And, Fibiger notes, “I don’t think Main Street would have been right for us. It’s not where people shop for food.”

Food shoppers appreciate more than just Fleishers’ high-quality meat, and all-out-in-the-open butchering practices.

Every employee has an intimate knowledge of farms. They visit, talk to farmers, and see livestock being raised.

Fibiger is passionate about his store, his process, his accessible price points, his “insane transparency,” his meat and his customers.

But he has a special spot in his heart for kids.

In just 5 years, they’ve gone from being shielded by their parents from watching butchering, to being brought behind the counter to watch every step. They’re the future — of eating well, while supporting sustainable agriculture and humane practices — and Fibiger does his part to make sure they understand all that entails.

Fleishers is educating youngsters about where their food comes from, how it is prepared, and how it all fits in to the world.

Fleishers is educating youngsters about where their food comes from, how it is prepared, and how it all fits in to the world.

Something else has happened too. “Whether it’s medical or personal reasons, vegetarians are starting to eat meat again,” the owner says.

“They love coming to us. We talk about the humane treatment of animals. There are a lot of ‘ethical vegetarians’ out there. We share their values.”

Fibiger is proud that they trust him. He’s thrilled to celebrate his 5th year anniversary in Saugatuck. But like any good businessman, he’s always looking to improve.

Fleishers’ interior was recently updated. New products and cases were added. The restaurant is gaining momentum, as former chef Emily Mingrone — adored by the community — has returned. She plans exciting menu changes and dinner events this fall.

Chef Emily Mingrone.

Chef Emily Mingrone.

And Fibiger just started working with a Pennsylvania lamb farm whose only other customers are 3-Michelin-star restaurants.

“We’re glad to be here,” Ryan Fibiger says, referring both to Saugatuck and “the romance of Westport.” He adds,  “We’re really glad that so many people understand and embrace what we do.”

Fleishers Craft Butchery is here for the long haul — and the whole hog.

A Taste Of Saugatuck

The other day, alert — and hungry — “06880” reader JP Vellotti was walking home from the train station.

Smells from the many area restaurants were alluring. He got even hungrier.

Then he saw these cherry tomatoes growing outside  Fleishers Craft Butchery.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

JP says, “If they don’t put a ‘please do not pick’ sign up soon, there might be a new meaning to ‘community garden.’

But he resisted temptation. And got his tomato fix at Julian’s instead.