Tag Archives: Hook’d

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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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)

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And finally … speaking of bad hot dogs …

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Friday Flashback #304

With the recent barbs being thrown Hook’d’s way, let’s revisit the Compo Beach concession stand.

We’ve featured these in previous Friday Flashbacks. But with so many newcomers to town — and so many others who so fondly remember Hook’d’s ancestors —  it’s a good time to check in with its predecessors.

Long before Joey’s by the Shore, there was this:

The photo is from 1933. The concession stand was located where the volleyball courts are now.

Later, at the same spot, came Chubby Lane’s:

(Photo courtesy of Liz Doyle Boyd)

Anyone could drive right up, order a really good burger, and eat outside — all without a beach sticker.

Like many teenagers, I worked at Chubby’s. It was a plum job: in the middle of all the action, with plenty of other kids, and free food. Sure, we wore dorky navy blue shorts and knee-length socks, but that was the price we paid.

Before my time, Chubby’s employees roamed the beach with walkie-talkies. They’d call in orders, and tie a balloon on a beach chair. A few minutes later, another employee hand-delivered the food.

Joey Romeo was the next well-organized, much-loved concessionaire. He was there for over 30 years. His customer service is legendary too.

Now we’ve got Hook’d. Years from now, will it be a nostalgic Friday Flashback — or just the answer to a trivia question?

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Roundup: Hook’d (Of Course), Saugatuck River Bridge, Entertainment …

A bit of good news from Hook’d!

They’ve finally posted their hours of operation on their door. They say they open at 11 a.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. weekends. They’re open until 8 p.m. 7 nights a week.

See you there!

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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Unfortunately, that’s not the only Hook’d-related news today.

A reader writes: “A quick Google search of (concessionaire) Upsilon Ventures and (owner) Itai Shoffman uncovers all sorts of stuff, like unpaid taxes.”

Attached was a link to Southern District of New York District Court judgment in “United States of America v. Itai Shoffman.” He was held liable for $201,659.73 in unpaid federal income taxes for 2007 and ’08, plus interest.

The judgment was dated February 12, 2021 — nearly one year after he and Upsilon were awarded the concession contract for Compo Beach and Longshore.

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The Onion is known for repeating the same post-mass murder headline, month after tragic month: “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

Westport’s repeated headline is this: “Truck Stuck Under Saugatuck River Railroad Bridge.”

It happened again yesterday morning. A driver ignored the warning sign — “Clearance: 10 Feet, 11 Inches,” and plowed underneath.

As usual, the bridge won.

Yesterday at the Saugatuck Avenue railroad bridge. Similar scenes are repeated regularly. (Photo/David Stone)

Readers always offer suggestions, such as better warnings for truckers (particularly those coming off I-95 Exit 17 eastbound, and not paying attention).

The bridge itself can’t be raised. But what will happen to Northeast corridor train traffic if repeated accidents make it structurally unsound?

Meanwhile, every time a truck driver misses or ignores the warning sign, we all smack our heads in disbelief.

And take a detour.

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The magnificent Steinway piano — formerly at New York’s Village Gate jazz club — has not been played since the day before COVID struck Westport.

But tomorrow (Thursday, July 7, VFW Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue), Janice Friedman joins “Jazz Rabbi” Greg Wall. She’ll play it again, at “Jazz at the Post.”

There are 2 sets: 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The cover is just $10; there’s also dinner from 6:30 on, with chef Derek Furino. Reservations are “strongly recommended” via email: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Before COVID, the Steinway piano was played at 323 restaurant.

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If jazz is not your thing, what about art?

“Double Indemnity” — the Westport Library show of work by Miggs Burroughs and Ann Chernow, based on the noir classic — continues tomorrow and the following Thursday (July 7 and 14).

Both artist will be at the gallery, from 6 p.m. on. At 7, films will be shown on the Library’s big screen: “Detour” this week, “Nightmare Alley” next.

Popcorn and other goodies are available too.

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Meanwhile, just added for Friday, at the Levitt Pavilion:

Hayley Jane & The Primates combine Americana, soul and rock & roll. They bring a powerful vocal range, vibrant dance choreography and explosive energy. The opening act is One Time Weekend.

Click here for free tickets.

Hayley Jane & the Primates.

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Michael Wolfe has no idea who put a sign up on Marion Road this morning.

But, Michael says, “he’s clearly on a quest to spread the word/embarrass Denise on her birthday. Might as well help the cause!”

(Photo/Michael Wolfe)

So: Happy Birthday, Denise, from all your friends at “06880.”

But don’t worry … we won’t tell anyone else 🙂

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Every day, there’s family fun at Wakeman Town Farm.

But this Saturday (July 9, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), it’s an official, capitalized Family Fun Day.

Kids of all ages can visit feed animals, plant sunflower seeds, and enjoy music from the School of Rock Fairfield. Food and drink for purchase includes ice cream, smoothies, iced coffee, lemonade and wood-fired pizza.

The schedule:

  • 11 to 2:45: Animal visits; reading room
  • 11 to 12:30: Buzzin’ Bees Craft
  • 11:30 to 12:45: Seed planting
  • 11:30 to 2:30: Pizza
  • 12 to 2: Ice cream
  • 12:30 to 2: Face painting
  • 1 to 2:45: Flight of the Butterflies Craft
  • 1 to 3: Music from the School of Rock House Band
  • 1:15 to 2:45: Farm Olympics.

Click here for advance tickets. Walk-ins are welcome too.

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There’s a lot going on at Earthplace, too.

Canoe paddles along the Saugatuck River — in search of egrets, osprey, ducks, shorebirds and much more — are set for this Saturday (July 9, 10 a.m. to noon); Friday, August 12; Saturday, September 10, and Sunday, October 16. Click here for reservations and more information.

Family campfires, with (of course) roasting marshmallows — plus meet an animal ambassador, and enjoy s’mores and a guided activity. There is a different theme for each campfire. Each family has their own picnic table. Dates are July 15, September 16, October 21, November 26 and December 21. Click here for details.

Meanwhile, admission to the Earthplace Museum is free through September 5, for Connecticut residents age 18 and under, and one adult caregiver. Support comes from Connecticut Humanities, the Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts, and ARPA.

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George Billis Gallery — now in a new location, 180 Post Road East — hosts an opening reception tomorrow (July 7, 5 to 8 p.m.).

“Ride the Wave” features 8 women artists, including Westporter Dale Najarian.

“Southampton Coastline” — oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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Round Pond is one of Westport’s most historic (and overlooked) sites.

Located near the Longshore entrance road — and across the street from the house F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald rented in 1920 — it was where social reformer Lillian Wald lived for many years. Eleanor Roosevelt was a frequent guest.

These days, it’s better known as a winter skating spot.

A small sign now notes its name. It’s in keeping with the beauty of the place — and a great image for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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Never heard of Hayley Jane & the Primates — this Friday’s Levitt Pavilion band (story above)?

Neither have I.

They’ve been around a while, apparently. Here’s a 2015 clip, from Bridgeport’s Gathering of the Vibes festival:

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Hook’d: The Back Story

The controversy over Hook’d’s management of the Compo Beach and Longshore concession stands, and the golf course halfway house, is not half-baked.

I’m old enough to remember when the contract came up for approval, way back in the spring of 2020.

A few months earlier, Joey Romeo and the town had ben unable to agree on terms of the lease for the food service he’d run at Compo for over 30 years, plus the 2 Longshore operations. (Click here for the first “06880” story; click here for Joey’s statement to his customers.)

Joey Romeo, in a typical pose.

On March 31, 2020, I posted a story about the upcoming approval of a new concessionaire: Upsilon Entertainment Group of Larchmont, New York (click here to read).

The piece drew 33 comments. Readers wondered about the bid process, and the decision not to choose a local vendor. Both King’s Kitchen and Norwalk’s Sunset Grille — connected to Westport via ownership of Jr’s Deli — were interested, but not considered.

The money quote came from Jay Walshon. He wrote:

A modicum of internet “research” finds that Upsilon Entertainment Group, registered in 2017, is “Permanently Closed”. Principal is Itai Shoffman. Address is 4 Durham Rd, Larchmont, NY.

Upsilon Ventures, Principal is also Itai Shoffman, registered address 4 Durham Rd, Larchmont, NY, is also “Permanently Closed”.

Real estate usage and event management. No evidence of retail restaurant experience, restaurant history, food reviews, menu, pricing, financials, etc.

4 Durham Rd, Larchmont appears to be a family colonial home rather than being a corporate building or established business entity.

The word on the street is that this company was chosen over local ones because this Larchmont company offered the Town more money for the concession contract – perhaps even $25,000 more. Tried and true local restauranteurs with proven track records may have been turned down on this basis….

This concession is no small thing. Compo is arguably Westport’s most precious crown jewel, beloved and utilized by virtually every Westport resident, parent and their children. If we are to be hostage to this singular provider, WE should make that decision.

For so long we have incessantly heard business leaders admonish us to support local, buy local, choose local. Here we have a major opportunity to do just that and instead we look to Larchmont NY??? Really?

The shuttered beach concession. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Three weeks later, Upsilon passed muster by the Planning & Zoning Commission (acting in its land use capacity) as the concessionaire. (Click here for the full story.) I wrote:

(Parks & Recreation Department director Jen) Fava said that 3 groups were interviewed by a committee of representatives from the RTM, Parks & Rec Department, Parks & Rec Commission, and Department of Public Works.

They selected Upsilon for a variety of reasons. One was (that it offered the) highest fees (which top out at $120,000 a year or 12% of gross revenues, whichever is higher, in the final year of the 5-year contract). An opt-in clause covers 2 additional 5-year terms.

Fava said the committee was enthusiastic about Upsilon’s previous experience, which included operations at New York’s Bryant Park, Prospect Park and Hudson River Park.

The menu would include “typical beach food,” plus “healthier options like smoothies and salads.” They would offer special food nights, like Italian cuisine, and events like cheese tastings.

The company will use biodegradable packaging, and will compost materials. They committed to hire local staffs, and sell Connecticut-based products.

“They’re very professional,” the Parks & Rec director said. “They want to be partners with us, and involved in the community.”

The Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen later okayed the contract.

Westporters waited eagerly for the concession stand’s return.

There were 23 comments on that April 24, 2020 story. Added to questions about the bid process and lack of a local vendor were concerns about the menu and promises made.

Peter Blau revisited the worries about the operators themselves:

It’s worth looking at the company’s website, as well. They are not a restaurant or food service company, but a “Project development, marketing, hospitality, and production firm specializing in public-private partnerships and the use of public spaces and real estate for iconic attractions, sponsor activations, events, consumer engagement, temporary retail, and other revenue generating opportunities.”

In other words, they specialize in making deals with deep pocket entities, no doubt with a very sophisticated marketing pitch, but when it comes to making the burgers, they hire that out to someone else.

How it’s possible to get a better deal by hiring an event marketing company as the middleman between the town and the actual food service escapes me.

2020 was a tough year for any business — especially a new one. COVID had just hit, when the contract was signed. With fears about indoor dining high, the concession stand did not open; instead, a food truck late in the summer served a limited crowd of beach-goers.

Hook’d finally opened last May.

The rest is history.

Employees posed in May 2021, ready to serve. (Photos/Dan Woog)

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Roundup: Hook’d (Hard To Believe, Again) …

The Comments section of “06880” have been filled with Hook’d-bashing.

It started with a complaint about the Compo Beach concessionaire’s running out of food, random and unposted hours, and general corporate lack of care for customers.

Readers added their own experiences. Several noted that the situation was just as bad at Hook’d’s other 2 locations: the Longshore pool and halfway house.

But that was the equivalent of forgetting you asked for extra ketchup, compared to yesterday.

It was July 4th — probably the most important day of any summer. Spectacular weather brought huge crowds.

Yet at 4:30 p.m. — with the temperature 80 degrees, dozens of people in the pool, and many more playing tennis nearby — the concession stand was shut.

The windows were closed. The door was locked. No one was inside.

(Photo/Clark Thiemann)

Nothing says “We don’t care” more than that.

I’m not sure what Hook’d’s contract with the town says about being open on the biggest day of the year.

But it seems we’ve been reeled in by them too long.

Time to give Hook’d the hook.

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If you missed the June 30th fireworks at Compo — or just wished you could see pyrotechnics on the actual 4th of July — and were at the beach last night, you were in luck.

Towns all along Long Island’s North Shore of Long Island fired them off. So did a few towns on the Connecticut coast, to the west.

Fred Cantor captured this true July 4th fireworks view:

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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Eric Chiang is July’s guest exhibitor at the Westport Book Shop.

The Jesup Green store features the oil painting “Moon Light Sonata,” from his Musical Planet series. He delves into weighty issues of human connection and the meaning of existence, showcasing loneliness, desperation, love and hope.

Chiang’s work has been exhibited from MoCA Westport and Silvermine to Texas and Taiwan. Concurrently with the Book Shop show, his Westport Library exhibit runs through July 14.

Chiang’s piece will be on exhibit at the Book Shop through July 31, 2022.

Eric Chiang, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Speaking of art: A plastic surgeon walks into a coffee bar, and shows his works.

That’s the story this Sunday (July 10, 4 to 7 p.m.). Dr, Jeffrey Rosenthal hosts a reception for his work at Steam, on Railroad Place.

He’s displayed his colorful paintings and photos previously throughout Fairfield County — and in New York and Europe. The show is open now during business hours, through September 12.

Art by Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal.

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Longtime resident Tom Lowrie took today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo a few days ago, in his back yard. It’s an ephemeral — but always beautiful — early summer sight.

(Photo/Tom Lowrie)

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And finally … on this date in 1954, Elvis Presley recorded his first single, “That’s All Right,” at Sun Records in Memphis.

The world was never the same.

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Roundup: Hook’d (Again), Compo Church, PAL …

Yesterday’s post about Hook’d struck a nerve.

Most readers agreed with the one quoted. They filled the Comments section with stories of their own, slamming the Compo Beach concessionaire for mediocre food, long wait times, and a lack of planning and care. (A couple of readers disagreed; they love Hook’d).

Much of that falls on the owners’ shoulders. Word on the street is that employees are frustrated and embarrassed — and sometimes bear the brunt of customers’ complaints.

The cooks and counter help are local teenagers. They have no control over whether enough burgers and hot dogs are ordered, the price, or the systems in place to make ordering simple and pick-up fast. They’re at the mercy of their bosses.

Give the kids a break. It’s not an easy situation to be in.

But — as many readers have noted — the owners deserve whatever they get.

Hook’d, last year. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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Speaking of Compo Beach:

Sunday church services began there this morning, near the cannons. They run every week, through the September 4.

It’s a BYOC event (bring your own chair). Parking is free; tell the gate attendant you’re going to the service.

Participating churches include Saugatuck, Greens Farms, Norfield and Wilton Congregational, and United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston. A different minister leads worship each week.

Rev. Heather Sinclair of the United Methodist Church leads this morning’s service. (Photo/Karen Como)

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Westport is still buzzing about the fantastic Independence Day fireworks on Thursday.

It couldn’t have happened without the generosity of Melissa & Doug, the locally based, internationally beloved toy company; the hard work of the Westport Police, Fire, EMS, Parks & Recreation and Public Works Departments — and the volunteer efforts of Westport PAL.

The biggest party of the year is a fundraiser for PAL. They could not run their many sports programs for boys and girls, or scholarships for Staples High School students, without that help.

So, whether you bought a ticket or freeloaded, consider a contribution to one of Westport’s most important organizations. Click here to see all they do; then click here to donate.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Kathie Bennewitz — our talented town art curator, who tirelessly finds, documents, preserves and exhibits the Westport Public Arts Collections — has taken on a new challenge: to preserve the legacy of iconic American artist Edward Hopper.

He’s the creator of classic works like the famed diner scene “Nighthawks (1942). She travels nearly every day to Nyack, New York, to steward and shepherd the  Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center.

The other day, Westport artists Eric Chiang and Mark Yurkiw took up Bennewitz’s offer to visit. Yurkiw reports: “The walkable and vibrant destination, with the Hudson River as a backdrop, makes a fabulous day trip. See the museum, stroll down Hopper Way and around the village of Nyack, with plenty to eat and experience.”

And say hi to Kathie at the museum, before she heads home to us.

(From left): Eric Chiang, Kathie Motes Bennewitz and Mark Yurkiw, outside the Edward Hopper Museum.

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Speaking of Eric Chiang:

If you missed his fascinating talk — “The Musical Planet” — the other day at the Westport Library: You’re in luck.

Click below to hear his thoughts on his art, its place in the world — and Westport’s role as an artists’ town.

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A reader writes:

“I was at Old Mill Beach with my husband and 3 young boys. We have come at low tide for years, to swim and find hermit crabs. Today, we saw this:

“At first we thought the owners would return to pick up the bags, but there were no dogs or owners around. The tide was coming in, and these bags would have been washed away into the sea. I took them to the trash. It was very disappointing, and obviously disgusting.”

No s—.

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Paul Cohen, formerly of Westport and Fairfield, beloved husband of Barbara R. (Bobbie) Herman, passed away peacefully yesterday in Redding, He was 98 years old.

The New York City native enlisted in the Army Air Corps on his 19th birthday in 1942, the earliest that was permitted at the time. He served in the Galapagos and Central America, commanding a radio operations group to protect the Panama Canal.

After the war he attended Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. then the Sorbonne and La Cinémathèque Française in Paris, where he studied cinematography.  He was employed by the March of Time in Paris.

After returning to the US Paul worked at Owen Murphy Productions, a producer of documentaries and commercial films. After several years, he acquired the company. He produced films for clients like IBM, the USIA, Western Electric, the 1960-61 World’s Fair and the States of New York and New Jersey. and won many awards. He traveled with 3 presidents: Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

He and his wife Helene moved to Westport in 1974, and became involved in town activities. Paul produced bulletins, posters and newsletters for the Westport Arts Center, Y’s Men, Y’s Women, Westport Woman’s Club and Unitarian Church.  He won several awards in the Y’s Men annual photo contest.

Helene died in 1993. Paul married Bobbie in 1997. In addition to Helene, he was predeceased by a daughter Susan, a brother and 2 sisters.

Survivors include his son Peter, stepsons Randall Schein (Ann Reingold), Jonathan Schein (Cynthia Hewett), and step-grandaughters Samantha and Lily Jo Schein.

A memorial service will be held in the fall. Donations in his memory may be made to the Unitarian Church in Westport, or a charity of your choice.

Paul Cohen

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Longtime Westporter Stanley Bryk died Wednesday, at Norwalk Hospital. He was 87.

The Bridgeport native lived in Westport for 55 years, before moving to Southport 2 years ago.

Bryk — a Marine Corps veteran — spent 41 years with Sikorsky Aircraft. He was a member of the Frank C. Godfrey American Legion Post,  and the VFW. He was also a lifelong New York Giants fan, and an avid traveler.

Survivors include his wife, Laura Renzulli Bryk; daughters Linda (Brent) Norton of Goshen, New York, and Susan (Robert) Tierney of Glastonbury, and grandchildren Taylor, Kelly, Erika, Casey, Rebecca and Kevin. He was predeceased by his brother Frank and one sister Mary Murphy.

AMass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, July 9 (11 a.m., St. Luke Church). Internment with military honors will follow in Willowbrook Cemetery. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Saint Jude Children’s Hospital for Cancer.

Stanley Bryk

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Former Staples High School media teacher Mike Zito’s wife of 32 years, Joni Gaines, died last month after a long battle with cancer.

Despite insurance, Zito faces medical bills approaching $10,000. He has started a GoFundMe page. Click here to help.

Jodi Gaines

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Dick Truitt lives near Winslow Park. Dogs occasionally wander through his yard.

They’re not the only visitors. This midnight guest stars in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photo/Dick Truitt)

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And finally … since everyone seems to have feelings about the Compo Beach concessionaire (story above):

 

Roundup: The Saugatuck, Hook’d, Burying Hill …

Some of the most affordable housing in Westport is hidden in plain sight.

Two 2-bedroom units at The Saugatuck — formerly Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street — will go on the market soon.

The Saugatuck is a senior complex (residents must be at least 62) that caps resale prices to ensure affordability for people with moderate incomes or below. The restriction last year was roughly $105,000 for a single person, and $115,000 for a couple.  There are no asset restrictions.

The property manager maintains a list of interested buyers, for sellers or their agents. For information on how to get on the list, email djallouk@thepropertygroup.net.

The Saugatuck (Photo courtesy of SmartMLS Inc.)

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For the past few weeks, a range of readers have complained to “06880” about the Compo Beach concession stand.

Some emailers are angry. Some acknowledge that this is a First World problem. But there are enough of them that they can’t be ignored.

Hook’d took over as the concessionaire from Joey’s by the Shore in 2020. They did not open that COVID-plagued year. Last year’s opening was delayed too. Many Westporters gave the new operators the benefit of the doubt; replacing a 30-year beloved institution would not be easy.

But patience is wearing thin. Here’s a typical email:

“I was there on Tuesday with grandkids at 4 pm. NO ICE CREAM. The place looked empty of everything.

“One of the workers said there have been lots of complaints about running out of things. It has no atmosphere, and is the exact opposite of Joey’s. And the food is very mediocre. I had a terrible hot dog. Burgers are so so.

“Compo beach needs a great beach stand. Have you heard this from anyone else?”

Yes. Other issues include early and random closures, and no posted operating hours.

There’s this too:

“A little birdie told me when the manager sends his supply list, corporate cuts it to their liking. It’s so not Joey’s. Typical ‘corporate.’ They don’t care about us Westporters. Just their bottom line.”

One reader wonders why, even when no one else is in the place, Hook’d employees insist on taking a customer’s cell phone number, to text when it’s ready.

Readers: What’s your experience with Hook’d? What are they doing well, or poorly? Are there any easy fixes? Click “Comments” below.

Hook’d is open. But customers don’t always know when. (Photo/Karen Como)

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Speaking of beaches: The Burying Hill pier/groin reconstruction job is done. The final construction crew left on Friday.

Before departure they poured a new, low cement wall in the parking lot, to keep vehicles from driving on the sand.

The new construction looks great, and the crew was efficient and engaged. Congratulations to all involved, for bringing this important environmental project to fruition. (Hat tip: Eric Bosch)

Burying Hill Beach pier. (Photo/Eric Bosch)

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The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism hosts “Havdalah on the Beach” next Saturday (July 9, 6 p.m., Compo  Beach).

Everyone is invited for a short service, with folk and klezmer music. Guests can swap Jewish-themed books too.

The CHJ will provide homemade desserts and soft drinks. Bring dinner, adult drinks and a beach chair. There’s no need for a beach pass; tell the gate guard that you are attending the CHJ event, and follow the signs.

Havdalah at Compo Beach.

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The next Westport Country Playhouse “Sunday Symposium” guest is Ins Choi. The writer of “Kim’s Convenience” — the play that inspired the popular Netflix series, and which is the next WCP production — will talk about the show, following the July 10 matinee.

The Sunday Symposium is free and open to the public. No performance ticket is necessary; just arrive 80 minutes after the 3 p.m. curtain.

Perviews for “Kim’s Convenience begin July 5, with opening night on July 9. For information on tickets and special offers, including discounts for students, senior citizens, educators, military, first responders, Indigenous peoples, professional playwrights and groups, click here.

Ins Choi

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“06880” subscription news: Issues continue to plague readers with Optonline.net addresses,

WordPress and Optonline don’t play well together. The great folks at the new Optimum store near Fresh Market are working on the issue, but have not yet solved it.

If you know someone with an Optonline.net address is not receiving “06880,” ask them to email 06880blog@gmail.com. I’ll send a list of troubleshooting steps.

The easiest solution, of course, is to subscribe to “06880” using a different email address.

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The renovation of Longshore may be years away.

But there’s a new addition, near ER Strait Marina.

The Kahuna waterslide popped up the other day. It serves summer campers.

Though plenty of older folks no doubt want to give it a try.

(Photo/Bruce McFadden)

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MaryLou Bell died peacefully Thursday at her Westport home, surrounded by family. She was 83.

Born to Patsy and Antonette Doddo, she was a life-long Westport resident. She graduated from Staples High School in 1956.

MaryLou was a well-respected local banker. She began with the Westport Bank & Trust Company while in high school. She sun-bathed on her lunch breaks with fellow employees on the roof of the downtown building (now Patagonia).

Loyal customers followed her to newest bank branches in her capacity as branch manager. Through the years she worked with Connecticut Bank & Trust, the Bank of Darien, the Bank of Westport and others. She ended her career in 2012 at Fairfield County Bank.

MaryLou enjoyed New York outings with colleagues, taking in Broadway shows and dinner. Her vacations in North Truro on Cape Cod were special to her. She volunteered at the Sons of Italy Festival Italiano and Westport PAL’s annual golf tournament, and was a member of Westport Sunrise Rotary.

She was active in local politics during the 1970s and ’80s, with the Republican Town Committee and Save Westport Now. Her family says, “She enjoyed spending time at the Westport Senior Center, and sharing laughs with her friends and family. She was fiercely independent, a straight-shooter, and was never afraid to express her thoughts to others. MaryLou lived life her way.”

MaryLou’s family thanks her exceptional caregivers Millie and Thomasine for providing friendship along with compassionate care.

MaryLou is survived by her daughter Kathy )Scott) Santarella of Westport; son Bob (Marybeth) Stephens of Suffolk, Virginia; grandchildren Jordan  and Jamie Santarella, and Wesston, Tyler, Ashley and Will Stephens; sister and brother-in-law Annette & AJ Izzo of Westport; her brother-in-law Ray (Linda) Barry of Fairfield, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

MaryLou was predeceased by her husband of 35 years, William Bell, in 2000, and her youngest sister Angela M. Doddo in 2001.

Friends may greet the family on Wednesday (July 6, 4 to 7 p.m., Harding Funeral Home). A mass of Christian Burial will celebrated at Assumption Church on  Thursday (July 7, 10 a.m.). Entombment will follow at Willowbrook Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to ­­­­the American Heart Association, or the charity of your choice.

MaryLou Bell

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You’ve got to be carefully taught.

In the case of humans, that covers just about everything.

For tree swallows, it’s how to catch insects

The other day, a few babies awaited their mother’s lessons. She took each out, one at a time, while the others waited.

Nancy Diamond captured the scene, for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Nancy Diamond)

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And finally … today marks the halfway point of 2022. (Well, any year actually. But this is the one we care about now.)

183 days are gone; 182 remain. It’s all downhill from here.

(We’re halfway through the year. If you haven’t donated yet to support “06880,” please consider helping. Just click here!)

Roundup: Birds, Gifts, Music …

Here’s a bright idea: The Connecticut Ornithological Association has just launched a “Lights Out Connecticut” initiative.

Residents, businesses, schools and building managers can pledge to turn off non-essential exterior lighting each night from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., during periods of peak bird migration. The goal is to help save migratory birds.

Connecticut joins Colorado, Georgia and Texas as the only places in the nation with statewide “Lights Out” programs.

The COA says that because most North American migratory birds travel at night, artificial light can disorient them, leading to fatal window collisions. There may be as many as 988,000,000 bird deaths in the US each year.

It’s a great idea. It’s especially welcome by residents of Cottage Lane. They’ve been aggravated by bright lights at the new 1480 Post Road East development nearby. The Planning & Zoning Commission has ordered a new lighting plan by May 9.

It can’t come soon enough for the neighbors. Or the birds. (Click here for the full Connecticut Ornithological Association story.)

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Need gift ideas for Mothers Day, Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6) or Nurse Appreciation Week (May 6-12)?

How about a gift for yourself?

Beauty consultant Carmela Cusano can help. She’ll be at Salon Nash tomorrow (Sunday, April 24, 1 to 4 p.m., Nash’s Plaza, 179 Post Road West).

While you’re there, enjoy a free wash and blow dry, courtesy of owner Felicia Catale, the great and very generous owner.

How’s that for a great gift!

Felicia Catale

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It took a while during the pandemic for Hook’d to get its act together.

But the Compo Beach concession stand was open yesterday for business.

Anyone can enjoy a meal there before May 1. On that date, stickers are required for beach entrance.

(Photo/Karen Como)

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Westport has many adult education offerings in many areas.

Andrew Smith thinks there are not enough in music.

He’s the executive director of Suzuki Music Schools of Westport & Orange — well known as a center for early childhood, and middle and high school, programs.

The Suzuki Philosophy is that children need an immersive experience in music. Smith says that holds true for adults too. Suzuki is not just for kids.

The school offers basic classes like Music Reading for Beginners, and Listening to Classical Music. Smith hopes to add Singing for Pleasure, Film Music and Composing.

He’d also like to create a Suzuki Members Club for Adults, with social engagement, public concerts and use of the facility. It would be like rowing or golf clubs — but focused on music.

Click here for more information, and registration.

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May is flower month at Wakeman Town Farm.

“Blooming With Paint’ (May 9, 6 to 8 p.m.) is a painting and drawing workshop, focusing on floral still life and challenging students to notice scale, proportion and placement.

Each participant receives a piece of handmade Nujabi paper, watercolor and oil pastels, paint brushes, Nujabi paper and drawing board. Click here for more information, and to register.

WTF also offers “sweet and whimsical spring flowers” for Mothers Day. Each bouquet comes in a mason jar tied with grosgrain ribbon. They’re $55, and designed by Sarah Shaw Floral Design exclusively for Wakeman Town Farm.

Orders will be taken through May 4. Pickup is at the Farm on Saturday, May 7 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) A portion of the proceeds supports WTF programs. Click here to order.

Wakeman Town Farm Mothers Day flowers. (Photo/Nancy Elizabeth Hill Photography)

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The Camp Gallery’s new solo show is “The Rooms of Joseph Ginsberg.”

There’s an opening reception next Friday (April 29, 5 to 7 p.m.) at 190 Post Road East. The show runs through May 24.

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It’s 2 years late. But Staples High School’s Class of 1980 celebrates their 40th (okay, 42nd) reunion (and giant 60th birthday party for all) this year.

The main event is Saturday, August 13 at LaKota Oaks in Norwalk. The 65-acre site features a pool, basketball and volleyball courts, horseshoes and more. Dinner includes a DJ and dancing.

There are also meet-ups as Viva Zapata (Thursday, August 11) and the Black Duck (Friday, August 12).

As is traditional, they’ll raise money in honor of beloved classmate Susan Lloyd, to support The Susan Fund.

PS: Thanks to a generous donor, tickets are (almost) free!

Click here for more information. Questions? Email Amy Potts: amy@aapk.com.

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This guy popped out the other day at Sherwood Mill Pond.

Then he looked John Kantor in the eye, stood still, and posed for a “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/John Kantor)

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And finally … in honor of the photo directly above:

Hook’d. Snagg’d?

“06880” reported at noon that Hook’d — the new Compo Beach concessionaire — would open today.

That’s what they told at least 2 readers yesterday.

But early this afternoon, the only thing they served beachgoers was a pair of locked doors.

The scene yesterday at Hook’d … (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Two weeks ago, a local content provider (not me!) emailed Hook’d. He offered to interview them, for a video story to promote their business.

They replied brusquely: “Check in with us when we’re open.”

Yesterday, he was at the beach. The doors were open.

He walked in, and repeated his offer to create digital content. Matter-of-factly — without great thanks — a woman said, “We’re open tomorrow.”

The media guy went back today. The doors were locked. There was no signage. Several hopeful customers milled around outside, equally mystified and miffed.

… and today.

The content provider checked social media. Nothing there either.

He wants to give them a chance. He’ll go back tomorrow. His offer to help — with free publicity — still stands.

Yet as Westporters gear up for a (near) normal summer — and the weather today is gorgeous — Hook’d is not off to an auspicious start.

Roundup: Beach Concession, EMS Week, Convertibles Needed …

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Are you Hook’d?

That’s the (odd?) name the new Compo Beach concessionaire has chosen. It’s slated to open today. The menu has been posted on the door.

If you check it out, “06880” readers would love to know your thoughts. Click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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Happy EMS Week!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe made it official, with a proclamation. Without all the “whereas”es, here’s the gist:

The pandemic has tested emergency medical professionals like never before. Westport’s EMTs and paramedics rose to the challenge, and played a crucial role. EMS personnel have been on the frontlines, caring for the sickest patients and staffing testing and vaccine clinics, despite risks to themselves and their families.

Over the last year, COVID has given people a glimpse into the vital role of EMS professionals. The sacrifice and dedication of Westport’s EMTs and paramedics earned them the gratitude of our community. Behind those face masks are people who — whether paid or volunteer — take on many crucial roles every day: healthcare professional, emergency manager, social worker, crisis counselor, consoler and caregiver.

EMS Week recognizes the service and sacrifice exhibited by EMS personnel over the past year. We give our thanks for all theyy continue to do every day, for our community.

First Selectman Jim Marpe and his EMS proclamation with (from left) Elyssa Grogan, Eric Hebert, EMS deputy director Marc Hartog, Larry Kleinman, Police Chief Foti Koskinas (hidden), Dan Guetta and David Corro.

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Calling all convertibles!

Open-top vehicles are needed to transport World War II veterans during the Memorial Day parade. If you can lend one, contact Deborah Detmer at Westport Parks & Rec: ddetmer@westportct.gov; 203-341-5091.

Grand marshal and World War II vet Bruce Allen rode in the 2015 Memorial Day parade. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Jillian Elder created Finding Westport — a great site for business owners, customers, job-seekers and realtors to connect online.

Then she expanded, to Finding Fairfield County and Finding Connecticut.

Jillian has branched out again. She sells Westport-themed merchandise — and has just added t-shirts. She’s got some interesting items posted, with patriotic and other town-inspired designs coming soon. Click here to browse.

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Update on Monday’s announcement that Pride yard signs are available from Baker Graphics: They’re not quite ready yet.

But if you want one (or more!) to show support for the LGBTQ community, click here. The Westport Pride committee will let you know when it’s ready.

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Staples High School Class of 1988 graduate Kerri Kenney — known for her roles in “Reno 911,” “Counter Culture” and “All About Steve” — has a new project.

The actress is working on ABC’s comedy pilot “Maggie.” Based on Tim Curcio’s short film, it’s about a young woman who tries to cope with life, while realizing she’s a psychic.

Kerri Kenney

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Speaking of Staples: Congratulations to the high school’s May Students of the Month: Yersultan Zhakupov, Jasper Cahn, Wyatt Resnick, Amelia Galin, Spencer Yim and William Fitch.

Nominated by their teachers, and recognized as “students who help make their school a welcoming place for their peers and teachers,” principal Stafford Thomas calls them “the glue of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together.”

In addition, juniors Natalie Bandura, Erin Durkin and Allison Schwartz will represent Staples at this year’s Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit in July. Eighty students are chosen from around the globe. The only other US high schools participating this year are Scarsdale (New York) and Dominion (Virginia).

For the past 8 years, Westport has been invited to send 3 juniors who are interested in world affairs, especially Asia. Usually, a trip to Singapore is included. Unfortunately for Natalie, Erin and Allison, this year’s event is virtual.

From left: Natalie Bandura, Erin Durkin, Allison Schwartz.

 

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Some jobs you can do any time. Others … well you have to schedule them tightly.

That was the case for these workers, pulling big granite steps near the Westport Library Riverwalk. They repaired and repointed them, then put them back — all before the tide came in.

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features a pair of goldfinches. Wendy Crowther spotted them, enjoying her feeder.

(Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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And finally … on this day in 1873,  Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received a patent for blue jeans with copper rivets.