Tag Archives: Joey’s by the Shore featuring Elvira Mae’s

Old Mill, New Problem: The Back Story

Last week’s announcement that public parking at Old Mill Beach is reopened was straightforward. Parking is once again available for vehicles with beach emblems or hang tags, on a space available basis.

But the Parks & Recreation Department news underscored long-running tensions between residents of Old Mill and Compo Cove, and residents in other parts of town.

Parking at the small beach opposite Joey’s by the Shore has always been limited. There are 35 residences by the beach or over the twin wooden bridges (accessible only by foot). There are 13 garages in back (they’re private property, each deeded to a home). A few properties do have room for parked cars. After re-paving a year ago, the lot was striped for 64 spaces.

The parking lot in April 2019, after paving and re-striping. (Photo/Matt Murray)

Parks & Rec placards identify vehicles that belong to residents. Those allow residents to park overnight there.

Old Mill and Compo Cove owners and renters have also been allowed to purchase 4 passes: 2 for themselves (1 per car, license plate-specific), and 2 for guests. The cost is $330, and they do no guarantee parking spaces.

During the COVID shutdown — designed to minimize crowds on the sand — Old Mill residents bristled at charges that they had a “private beach” paid for by Westporters’ taxes.

Old Mill Beach, early July (Photo/Diana Griffin Coyne)

“We pay for the schools and other services we may not use,” Matt Murray says. “I’ve been here 32 years, and never had a child in the school system. It’s part of funding the town.”

(Old Mill residents have their own complaint. This spring and summer has seen a steep rise in the number of tweens and teens jumping from the wooden bridge into Mill Pond. Some ride bikes there; others dropped off by parents. Residents say the youngsters have been loud and disrespectful, and have vandalized cars in the lot. Parks & Rec has now assigned an employee to the area. But that’s another story.)

A time-honored ritual, in 2019. The parking garage — part of some owners’ property deeds — is in the background.

For years, Old Mill was Westport’s forgotten beach. Once upon a time, there was a lifeguard. Then it eroded so badly that swimming became almost impossible. The Mill Pond behind it was in bad shape too.

But Old Mill is back. People swim, go crabbing and fishing, use skim boards and boogie boards, and walk out (and party) on the mud flats. The Mill Pond is healthy again too.

Old Mill in June (Photo/Les Dinkin)

The popularity of Joey’s by the Shore/Elvira’s Coffee Bar — particularly now that the Compo concession stand is not open — has added to the allure of Old Mill Beach.

With Compo operating at half capacity (meaning occasional closures on great-weather weekends), plus some Westporters’ hesitancy to hang out at still-crowded Compo — along with the fact that more people (including kids) than ever have stayed home this summer — Old Mill has never been more attractive.

Old Mill Beach (Photo/Dan Woog)

For a couple of weeks, a social media firestorm pitted Westporters demanding more access to the Old Mill parking lot against residents defending their right to park there.

Parks & Rec’s recent decision to reopen Old Mill Beach — under the regular, first-come-first-served parking rules — has quieted the tempest.

For now — let’s hope — everyone can play nice in the sandbox.

COVID-19 Roundup: ReOpen Westport Team; Joey’s Reopens; Library Challenge; Virtual Bingo, And More


Yesterday, 1st Selectman Marpe announced the formation of a ReOpen Westport Advisory Team. Members will “seek input from local business and community leaders” so that the community can move forward “in both an overall and segmented way.”

2nd Selectman Jen Tooker chairs the group. More details about the ReOpen team — including, presumably, members — will be announced Monday.

Marpe says, “Westport will continue taking the lead from the state of Connecticut and health experts, but will simultaneously ensure that the status of COVID-19 and the local needs within Westport take precedence to any re-opening decisions.”

Most Post Road businesses remain closed. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)


A wee — but welcome — bit of Westport returns today.

Joey’s by the Shore relocates from the beach to Elvira Mae’s. The new deli/ice cream stand/market — now called “Joey’s by the Shore featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffer Bar” — rolls out a soft opening today.

There’s curbside ordering only (via joeysbytheshore.com). You’ll need to keep your social distance too, of course.

But there’s no better place to do it than there, and no better folks to do it for than Joey Romeo and Betsy Kravitz.

Betsy Kravitz, Joey Romeo and …

… a very happy customer. (Photos/Dan Woog)


Readers: on your marks!

The Westport Library has announced a Summer Reading Challenge. There are 25 “challenge lists.” The goal is to read at least one book from as many challenges as you can.

There’s a form to submit after each one — and a leader board, because hey, there are no baseball standings to follow.

The challenges are challenging. They include a book that spans generations; that makes you laugh (and another that makes you cry); about an election; from the teen collection, and about a battle. Click here for all 25.

The “competition” runs through September 7.


Sure, the weather is beautiful this weekend. But if you’re looking for another reason (besides COVID-19) to stay inside, here’s one: Complete the census.

This weekend, as I’m sure you know, is Census Digital Action Weekend. I’m not sure what that means, but click here for the link.


Stan Witkow provides another update on his weekly Thursday Virtual Bingo game. (That’s the one where anyone can join — and the winner chooses a charity to get the buy-in pot.)

This week they surged past $1,200 overall. The recipient was Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. The “house” made a special $25 donation to the Connecticut Food Bank too.

For more information, email Stan@witkow.com.

A scene from the Virtual Bingo game.


The Staples High School girls soccer team is collecting food for the Gillespie Center.

Needs include canned chicken, low-sugar cereal, canned vegetables (low sodium), canned fruit (low sugar), peanut butter and jelly, dry mil envelopes, pasta sauce, rice, hearty soup, mac and cheese, crackers, salad dressing, and ketchup, mustard and mayo.

Toiletries and cleaning supplies like shampoo, soap, deodorant, tooth care and feminine products, dish soap, laundry detergent, sponges, cleaners and bleach are great too.

The drop-off location is 12 Indian Hill Road. For more information, email aly.sivinski@gmail.com.


And finally … it’s Saturday! So of course tonight that means:

Coming Soon: “Joey’s By The Shore — Featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffee Bar”

After a week of relentlessly grim news, this will bring a smile to your face:

Joey’s by the Shore is partnering with Elvira Mae’s. The joint venture brings the burgers, fries, lobster rolls (and much more) that Joey Romeo served for over 30 years as Compo Beach concessionaire, to the Hillspoint Road spot known for great coffee, bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches, soft-serve ice cream (and much more).

“Joey’s by the Shore, Featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffee Bar” opens April 3 (COVID-19 guidance permitting).

Joey Romeo and Betsy Kravitz, in their Hillspoint Road spot. The table is from Joey’s by the Shore at Compo Beach.

Joey and Betsy Kravitz — who took over Elvira’s, across from Old Mill Beach, last year — are mindful of the coronavirus.

“We’re monitoring the situation,” Joey says. “Health and safety are our number one concerns. We won’t put anyone at risk.”

Betsy points to the ice cream window as a way to minimize social interactions. She and Joey will also make sure the store does not get crowded.

And because there’s no cash exchanged — all payment is by credit card, Apple or Samsung Pay, or house accounts — that’s one less point of contact to worry about.

The idea for the 50/50 partnership began in November, almost as soon as Joey’s 31-year partnership with the town ended. (He also ran the Longshore pool, skating rink and halfway house concessions.)

“It opened our mind to possibilities,” Betsy says. They did not know each other well — each was busy running their own operations last summer — but when they met, they had “great chemistry.”

The menu will include nearly all of Joey’s favorites — and those Betsy’s customers loved too. In addition, there are to-go items for impromptu sunset-watching, like cheese, crackers and olives.

Joey’s Featuring Elvira Mae’s will be open 7 days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to sunset, all year long.

The staff will include familiar faces from Joey’s and Elvira Mae’s. Both were known for friendly, hard-working high school and college students.

The new Joey’s by the Shore will stock non-food items familiar from the beach, like towels, sunscreen and hoodies. They’ll sell flowers too.

As well as grocery staples: eggs, milk, butter, paper towels. And — key, in these COVID-19 days — toilet paper.

Joey’s old sign hangs in his new digs.

For the past 2 days Hillspoint Road has been crowded with walkers, joggers and bicyclists. We’re  all eager to get outside, clear our heads and forget about the coronavirus for a while.

Soon we’ll have a friendly, welcoming — and safe — spot to stop, along the way.

(For more information, including house accounts, click here.)