Tag Archives: Green’s Farms Spirit Shop

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!

======================================================

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!

=======================================================

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)

=======================================================

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)

======================================================

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)

=======================================================

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)

=======================================================

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)

=======================================================

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

 

Roundup: Sweetgreen, Bridge Square, Saugatuck …

Sweetgreen went before the Architectural Review Board last night.

The salad-and-bowl fast casual restaurant — with over 150 outlets in more than a dozen states — will replace Organic Krush. The “lifestyle eatery” replaced Chipotle less than 2 years ago. Board members were pleased with the new look. (There were no comments on the menu.)

Representatives from Bridge Square faced more questions, about the new look of that venerable plaza. Questions centered around architectural additions, the back (river) side, and color.

Ultimately, the ARB voted to let the project continue, with the recommendation that the owners come back with a new color scheme.

The ARB took the most time on a pre-application review of a text amendment for The Hamlet at Saugatuck, the proposed redevelopment of the area bordered by Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Charles Street.

No decisions were made. Members asked questions about height and architecture. ROAN Ventures, the project developer, continues the process with the ARB and Planning & Zoning Commission in September.

Part of the proposed Saugatuck Hamlet project.

=======================================================

One of Westport’s oldest best known liquor stores is for sale.

A commercial real estate listing for Greens Farms Spirit Shop says: “Prime location on well-traveled road. Fantastic selection of all types of Spirits, with experienced Staff. Full delivery service, and help with all Events, Weddings, as well as corporate outings. Truly a must see to get the full affect [sic] of the operation.”

It’s listed for $2,250,000. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Amy Swanson)

=====================================================

Hook’d — the Compo Beach concessionaire — remains controversial.

A few “06800” readers accused me of being too harsh, with my recent report that my request for a rare cheeseburger was denied.

That’s the Health Department looking out for beef eaters, apparently. (Don’t forget: The girl at the counter said that all their burgers are cooked the same: medium. I couldn’t have gotten mine well done, either).

So take this next item with a grain of salt. Alert reader Martin Iselin writes:

“Joey’s (the previous concessionaire) was known for one of the best hot dogs around. After a bike ride I always rewarded myself with one.

“After finishing a recent ride, I thought I’d try the new place. I ordered a hot dog, and asked if they had sauerkraut. No!

“I asked about relish. No!

“Disappointed, a put a little mustard on it. I don’t what brand they use, but it was so salty I could not eat it.

“What kind of beach summer place has no condiments, and such bad food?”

I’m guessing that’s a rhetorical question.

=======================================================

Marine Layer — the small clothing store next to the much bigger Gap — is closing August 1.

But they’ll reopen in late August, at a new location: 59 Main Street. They’re taking over Intermix.

I searched the “06880” archives for a mention of Marine Layer. Up popped a story from 2017.

It described a new group — Earth Guardians — that encouraged businesses to keep their doors shut when air conditioning (or heat) was on.

Of all the stores they visited, only one had its door closed: Marine Layer.

Marine Layer, with its door firmly closed.

======================================================

Sarah Jane Cion snagged first place in the 17th annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition.

Tomorrow, she plays the magnificent Steinway — direct from the legendary Village Gate club — at Westport’s VFW (465 Riverside Avenue). It’s the next, and one of the most anticipated, “Jazz @ the Post” shows of the summer.

Cion has performed with legends like Clark Terry, Etta Jones, Anita O’Day, Bucky Pizzarelli and Don Braden, and is a regular at Birdland. Judges for her award-winning competition were Horace Silver, Kenny Barron, Ellis Marsalis, Benny Green and Bill Charlap.

Music begins at 7 p.m. The cover charge of $10 goes directly to the musicians.

For more information and schedules, click here or here. For table reservations, call 203-227-6796 or emailjazzatthepost@gmail.com.

Sarah Jane Cion

======================================================

Tag sales wax and wane with the weather. We don’t see too many in winter — or summer.

But on Saturday, August 6 (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; early bird special $10 for 8 a.m. entry), the Unitarian Church in Westport sponsors its always popular (and massive) sale.

Thousands of items are donated by dozens of families. Among them: outdoor tools, kitchenware, china, artwork, home décor, rugs, clothing, books, blankets, sheets, arm chairs, lamps — even a unicycle.

COVID knocked out the past couple of tag sales. So there’s plenty of merch — and demand 

Proceeds fund operating costs of the congregation, and the social justice causes they support.

A pre-COVID Unitarian Church tag sale.

=======================================================

The eagle has landed. And it stayed at Schlaet’s Point for at least half an hour.

Alert “06880” reader Mary Gai captured this magnificent bird — at least with her camera — for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo?Mary Gai)

=======================================================

And finally … speaking of bad hot dogs …

(“06880” relies on contributions from readers like you. Please click here to support us.)

 

 

 

 

 

Liquor Store Chess Game: Superstore May Move Across From Castle

It’s not easy opening a liquor store in Westport.

Beyond knowing everything about all kinds of beer, wine and spirits — and about business, and the law — you need a liquor license.

There are 13 for the entire.town. All are accounted for. The only way to get one is if an existing store goes out of business. That happens about as often as you’d expect.

Castle Wine & Spirits has had a license for 25 years. From their roomy space on Post Road East — the old Boat Locker, next to the now-vacant Liberty Army & Navy store — they’ve built a large, loyal customer base.

Owned by husband and wife Craig and Marina Jensen, managed for 20-plus years by Lenore Kallay and staffed by a sharp, veteran crew that knows exactly what each customer likes (and offers new ideas of what they might like), Castle is a well-loved, under-the-radar mom-and-pop success story.

Castle Wine owner Marina Jensen and wine director Ken Maykut.

But very occasionally, one of those liquor licenses becomes available. It happened in 2018 when Saugatuck Grain + Grape — for years on Railroad Place, then Post Road West — closed.

The owner of BevMax acquired the license. They’re a “superstore” chain, with 8 locations in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, plus a nationwide shipping office in Stamford. There’s a BevMax in Norwalk, near Stew Leonard’s.

The owner of a liquor store can move anywhere in Westport that zoning allows.

The new location of BevMax is the former Pier 1 store, in the Julian’s Pizza and Rio Bravo shopping center on Post Road East.

Directly opposite Castle Wine & Spirits.

The Jensens — who opposed the move before the state liquor commission, and lost — are concerned. But they’re ready to face the competition.

“People know us,” Marina Jensen says. “We  have great products, staff and customer service. We hire local kids. We deliver.

“And we have great relationships with other liquor stores. If we don’t carry something a customer wants, we send him to Greens Farms Spirit Shop. They do the same for us.”

Castle sponsors wine tastings, and offers twice-monthly classes (up next: “California vs. France”). They work closely with local organizations, like the Westport Country Playhouse.

Wine director Ken Maykut brings in bottles not found in the big box stores or other shops in town. He’s built up the burgundy section too.

“I don’t sell wine. I educate people about it,” he says. “It’s so gratifying when someone tells me they love a bottle I suggested.”

A large selection at Castle Wine & Spirits.

Construction has not yet begun on BevMax. For now, Castle Wine & Spirits has that stretch of the Post Road to themselves.

And they look forward to new neighbors next door. A vegan restaurant is planned for the old Army & Navy spot.

No word on whether it’ll have a restaurant liquor license. If it’s BYOB, customers will know exactly where to go.

Jack’s Last Day

Yesterday — when “06880” broke the news that Jack Riley has sold his very popular Greens Farms Spirit Shop — I posted this photo:

It showed a young Jack Riley, on his first day in business: November 10, 1969.

Today — December 15, 2018 — was Jack’s last day.

The store — which will continue with new owners, and many familiar employees — was packed.

Jack opened a bottle. The large crowd of customers — aka “friends” — raised their glasses to nearly 50 years of neighborly service and smiles.

Then Nico Eisenberger asked Jack to pose once again, for posterity.

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

The hair is gone. But the passion for what he did — and the joyful way he did it — remains.

A simple toast was the least the large crowd could do.

But — like everything Jack did — it came from the heart.

Greens Farms Spirit Shop Sold; After 50 Years, We Toast Jack Riley

In November 1969, Jack Riley opened Greens Farms Spirit Shop in a Post Road strip mall near Turkey Hill South.

The holiday season is every liquor store’s Super Bowl. For nearly 50 years Jack has spent nearly every waking hour — including Christmas Eve — making sure his many loyal customers have all the whiskey, wine and beer they need.

There’s always something going on at Greens Farms Spirit Shop.

This year is different. Tomorrow — Saturday night — Jack will close up for the last time. The next day, he and his wife Eileen Proulx Riley — well-known too in town, for her long service with the Westport Library children’s department — head to California. Their 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law and 4 grandchildren are there.

For once, Jack won’t think about inventory, deliveries, or anything else work-related. Earlier this week, he sold his store.

After half a century as one of our town’s favorite merchants, he’s moving west for good.

That’s bad news for countless Westporters who started as customers, and became friends. But 50 years is a long time to own a business.

Particularly one as demanding — and in demand — as a liquor store.

Jack’s roots in the area are long and deep. He grew up in Fairfield. After graduating from Christ the King High School, he worked for an electrical distributor.

His father was the last of 4 generations of rye makers. In 1969 Jack and his dad — also a Sikorsky engineer and tool-and-die maker — found a great location for a liquor store. They spent that summer building it out.

Jack Riley at Greens Farms Spirit Shop, on the first day of business: November 10, 1969.

Jack had a great run. In a town in which many businesses have the longevity of fruit flies, Greens Farms Spirit — and its next door neighbor, Fortuna’s — have been not just consistent, but consistently good.

Jack’s store is well known not just for knowledgeable help, wine tastings, a wide selection at all price points, and the many young Westporters he’s hired and mentored, but for its genuine friendliness.

If “Cheers” was the bar where everyone knew your name, Greens Farms Spirit is the liquor store equivalent.

The wide aisles and square sales counter are places of constant banter. It’s not quite a country store with pot-bellied stove, but for a spirit shop it comes close.

In October 2012, the power was out all around town. But Jack Riley’s Greens Farms Spirit Shop was open.

Customers know Jack’s family well, because he talks proudly about them. His son Kevin and wife Genoa own a wine business. They have 3 boys, ages 13, 10 and 9. Jack’s other son Tim works for the Navy as a computer engineer. He and his wife Amy have a 6-year-old girl.

Both families live within 2 hours of each other, on the sparsely populated, beautiful central California coast.

Back row (from left): “Jack” Nelson Riley, Eileen Riley, Jack Riley. Front:
Finley, Westley and Barrett Riley. 

Jack and Eileen have bought 10 acres. They’ll build a new house. He’ll play a lot of golf. They’ll be bi-coastal until she leaves her job at the library.

And he’ll connect with a new set of customers, at Kevin’s tasting room. (He’ll no doubt see plenty of old ones too. That area — and those wines — are popular draws for Westporters.)

Most of all, Kevin says, “he looks forward to learning to drive a tractor, and be the cowboy he’s always dreamed of.”

The new owners will run Greens Farms Spirit Shop. Rob Pelletier — Jack’s longtime assistant manager — will still be there. The friendly, helpful fun vibe will continue.

But before they take over on Sunday, let’s raise our glasses one last time — in person, or online.

Here’s to you, Jack Riley: for 50 years, the true spirit of Greens Farms.

That’s The (Green’s Farms) Spirit!

When life gives you lemons, you’re supposed to make lemonade.

When Hurricane Sandy cut power to his store, Jack Riley kept it open anyway.

Fortunately for thirsty Westporters, Jack owns Green’s Farms Spirit Shop.

There was not a lot of light inside today. But that did not keep a steady stream of customers from buying beer, wine, hard liquor, and anything else they could carry away.

Jack Riley, his open door and dark — but bustling — store.

The credit card terminal wasn’t working, but that didn’t stop Jack. He wrote card numbers by hand. At some point, he’ll process them.

“We’ll stay open till it’s too dark to see,” he promises.

Same thing tomorrow.  Jack thinks he may still have ice then.

“Thank God you’re open!” one customer said. “I can’t make it through a 2nd day with my in-laws without alcohol.”