Tag Archives: Joey’s by the Shore

OMG! Old Mill Grocery Opens Soon

For a couple of months, Westporters gazed longingly at the old Elvira’s/Joey’s by the Shore on Hillspoint Road. A sign promised that the Old Mill Grocery & Deli would open this summer.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Our long wait is almost over. The new owners have found a great local operator, poised to begin the last week of July.

It will be run by …

…. TGB Hospitality Group.

Doesn’t sound familiar? This will: TGB stands for “The Granola Bar.”

One of Westport’s favorite coffee shop/bakeries takes over one of our town’s most historic properties. For 103 years, the wooden building by Old Mill Beach has served the neighborhood, beachgoers, and everyone else who works or passes through the area.

Previous owners Hal and Betsy Kravitz searched hard for a buyer. They could not find one. Finally — just after they sold all their equipment — a group of nearby residents led by Jim Hood, Ian Warburg, Chris Tait and Emily Ashken Zobl formed a non-profit to buy the building, and keep it as a market/deli.

Done! The newest sign was unveiled yesterday evening. Standing proudly are (from left): Jim Hood, The Granola Bar co-founders Julie Mountain and Dana Noorilly, TGB Hospitality Group director of food and beverage JJ Heanoa, Emily Ashken Zobl. Koda — the Old Mill Grocery dog — sits in front.

Their fundraising was phenomenal. But they’re not pizza chefs and coffee makers.

They met with about 20 potential operators. The Granola Bar was the perfect fit.

Owners Julie Mountain and Dana Noorily have a great reputation. They know and love Westport. They’re pros — but they’re also fun to work with.

They had even thought about buying the building, when it was up for sale last year. But, Julie notes, “we serve food. We’re not in the real estate business.”

Since opening 9 years ago, The Granola Bar has been an integral part of Westport. “We live here. We see the people we serve every day. Our kids are in the schools. These are all our friends, our neighbors,” Mountain notes.

Julie Mountain and Dana Noorily, The Granola Bar co-founders.

Mountain and Noorily have expanded. TGB Hospitality Group now includes 6 restaurants, a catering business, food truck and restaurant consultancy.

But the Old Mill Grocery & Deli will not be The Granola Bar 2.0. It’s forging its own identity.

The “beach food” menu will include pastas, sandwiches, salads, wraps, smashburgers, and fresh fruits, vegetables and bread. TGB baker Rick Dickinson will provide the pizza dough. Breakfast food is both healthy and “indulgent.” There will be meals to please the night crowd too — and charcuterie boards to bring to the beach. (Old Mill Grocery will deliver to the Compo drop-off point, too.)

Plus, of course, ice cream.

Noorily  calls it “an elevated place the serves elevated food.”

“This community saved the building. They’ll get a year-round restaurant and market,” Hood says. (The “market” includes staples like butter, milk, eggs and paper towels.) That’s great news for the 750 homes within a 3/4-mile radius.

Committee members (from left) Ian Warburg, Jim Hood and Emily Ashken Zobl, outside the property they helped save.

“This is not a lift. It’s a full Botox,” Mountain says.

It’s also a fulfillment of the investors’ mission, to provide training and jobs for people with special needs and disabilities.

The new owners have done plenty of due diligence: first creating a non-profit, then purchasing the building, now finding the perfect operators.

In a few days, the next chapter in this historic story begins.

(Old Mill Grocery & Deli hopes to open on or around July 25. Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m, 7 days a week. Click here for more information; follow on Instagram @oldmillgrocery.

(Soundview Empowerment Alliance — the nonprofit organization behind the community effort — seeks donors interested in “naming rights” for major items. They range from an espresso machine and pizza oven to re-shingling and a new roof. For more information email SoundviewEmpowerment@gmail.com.)

(Like Old Mill Grocery, “06880” is a community resource. Please click here to help support this blog.)

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?

(If you enjoy our Friday Flashbacks, please consider supporting “06880.” Click here to help.)

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)

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

New Life For Old Mill Market

For nearly 100 years, through name changes (Old Mill Grocery, Kenny’s, Elvira’s, Joey’s by the Shore) and changing trends (market, deli, ice cream shop), a small wooden building has served Old Mill neighbors, beachgoers, joggers, bicyclists, workers, and anyone else passing by.

It closed several months ago. By New Year’s, its fate looked bleak. No one was interested in reopening a business. The location — yards from the water, at the foot of Compo Hill — made it ripe for a residential buyer.

Like the restaurant-turned-home diagonally across the street, it looked like the small lot would soon be filled with a huge house.

But now it seems the Old Mill Grocery will live again.

Elvira’s, in 2016.

A few dozen neighbors — and other who grew up nearby, or remember the importance of the store, or just want to preserve a bit of old Westport — have united to help save the landmark.

And they’re doing it in a creative, innovative, very win-win way. Their priority is to save the café/market, then form a non-profit organization (the application is already underway). The goal is to break even, and serve the community.

And they’ll do it by offering training and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

All they need is $1.3 million. But they need it by April 1.

The good news: They’re more than three-quarters of the way there.  Without any public announcement, $975,000 has already been pledged.

Balloons will soon be seen again at Elvira’s.

The core group that’s done the heavy lifting is a who’s who of Westport: Ian Warburg, Chris Tait, Jim Hood, Emily Ashken Zobl and Tommy Febbraio.

All except Hood grew up in Westport (but he and his family have lived by Compo Beach for 26 years). Tait is an RTM member, and lives nearby. All 5 are deeply committed to saving this local institution.

For months, owners Hal and Betsy Kravitz shopped the property to 30 or so potential business operators. None were interested.

Discouraged, the couple felt they had no choice but to sell to a residential developer — against their wishes. When Hood, Tait, Warburg and others heard the news, they swung into action.

The Kravitzes listened. They wanted to work with the neighborhood group. But they could not wait forever. They proposed a fair, reasonable — but relatively quick — deadline for funding.

The group got commitments. They began the 501(c)(3) process.

Febbraio — a 1970 Staples High School graduate who was raised near Longshore — was a key link. A successful restaurateur who knows his way around Fairfield County real estate, he offered advice about the business, as well as an introduction to Fairfield County Bank. They agreed to back the project.

The non-profit component is also crucial. Eighty percent of disabled people are unemployed, Hood says. The market can empower intellectually and physically disabled people, and others who are often marginalized, not just with employment and training, but by buying products from Sweet P Bakery and The Porch, which also hires and trains disabled workers.

That giving-back-to-the-community model offers a nod, in a way, to Kenny Montgomery, the store’s proprietor from the 1950s through early ’80s. When he died, longtime customers were stunned to learn he had bequeathed $500,000 to the Westport YMCA.

Before Elvira’s, the store at the foot of Compo Hill was owned by Ken Montgomery.

Now comes outreach to the broader community. The organizers are seeking commitments from others, to reach the funding goal. A GoFundMe page went live yesterday (click here).

The hope is for a soft launch this summer. As the business grows, they’ll respond to what customers want and need.

And what will the new store be called?

The final name has not been decided. But a strong favorite is Old Mill Grocery.

It’s simple. It’s historic — the name of the very first market there.

And its initials are perfect for this community effort, to help save a local institution from the developers’ claws.

That’s right: OMG.

(For more information, or to discuss a major contribution to the project, email Jim Hood and Ian Warburg: SaveElvirasMarket@gmail.com.)

The original market, in the 1920s. 

Roundup: Missing Woman, Signs Of Compassion, Floodplain Management …

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An extensive search river and land search was conducted yesterday by the Westport Department and Fire Dive team, after a 22-year-old woman disappeared from a canoe near the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

After 5 hours, the woman was seen on a surveillance tape at a local business. The search was suspended.

Early this morning she was located in Norwalk, and reunited with her family. Chief Foti Koskinas thanked all who aided in the search.

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In 2017, Miggs Burroughs’ “Signs of Compassion” project inspired visitors to the Westport Library.

Based on Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name — and spurred partly by the darkening political climate — the noted Westport artist asked 30 Westporters to participate.

Old and young; Black, white and Asian — all learned one word or phrase in American Sign Language. Through Miggs’ unique lenticular photography, each sign shows the beauty of that form of communication. It’s also a “visual chorus of our community, expressing the need for compassion in the world.”

Nearly 5 years later — thanks to the generosity of Westporter Melissa Ceriale — the 30 portraits have been permanently acquired by Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains. They were installed on Wednesday.

COVID has delayed a formal unveiling. But the hospital has a robust social media presence, and they’re showing off their new acquisition to the world.

As Miggs notes, his piece lives on, “in a place dedicated to compassion and healing.”

Miggs Burroughs’ “Signs of Compassion,” at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. And yes, that’s me in the top row, 2nd from left.

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Want to know what goes on behind the scenes at “06880”?

I don’t give tours (because there’s nothing to see). But you can watch my talk to the Y’s Women.

I spoke on Monday, via Zoom. I talked about how the blog began, how it grew, why I got rid of anonymous comment, and much more.

They women asked very wise (ho ho) questions.

Click here to see. Then click on some of the other, equally (or more!) fascinating speakers the Y’s Women have hosted over the past couple of years.

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Looking for some great reading this holiday weekend?

Click here for the “Westport Progress Report on Floodplain Management.”

As you probably know, the report is prepared annually to enable residents to receive a 10% reduction in flood insurance. That insurance is offered by FEMA, to communities participating in the Community Rating System.

Municipalities are ranked from 1 to 10. A ranking of 1 offers the highest reduction in flood insurance rates. Actions taken by the Planning & Zoning Commission over the years have brought Westport’s ranking from 10 to 8. More efforts are planned.

Insurance is important to homeowners in flood-prone areas like Compo Cove.

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Speaking of water: Yesterday was moving day at Joey’s by the Shore.

Equipment was moved out of the longtime deli/market, now closed for several months.

The property has been on the market. No deals have been finalized, and there is no word on what is next for the historic property across from Old Mill Beach.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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Nicholas Marsan has been promoted to deputy chief of the Westport Fire Department, while Theodore Crawford has risen to lieutenant. They — and new Fire Chief Michael Kronick — were sworn in yesterday at Town Hall.

The promotions fill vacancies created by the retirement of Chief Robert Yost on January 1.

Marsan became a Westport firefighter in 2007. He then served as fire inspector and lieutenant.

He is a veteran of the US Army and the CT Army National Guard. In 2010 he was deployed overseas. He received the Army Commendation Medal for Valor during operations in Afghanistan, and is a 2-time recipient of Westport Rotary Public Protection & Safety Awards, and 2 unit citations.

Marsan was also president of the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Association, Local 1081. He earned a master’s degree in history from Western Connecticut State University. He is now completing a master’s in public administration and emergency management at Sacred Heart University.

Crawford joined the department in 2011. He is an EMT, and president of the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation.

He is also a rescue diver on the Westport Police/Fire dive team, and a hazardous materials technician on the Fairfield County Hazmat Team. He received a Westport Rotary Public Protection & Safety Award, the Firefighter Dominic Zeoli Award, and 2 Unit Citations.

Crawford is a graduate of Clarkson University, majoring in civil engineering.

From left: Theodore Crawford, Nicholas Marsan, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Fire Chief Michael Kronick.

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Audiences across the country look forward to tonight’s “Stars on Stage From Westport Country Playhouse” (Friday, January 14, 9 p.m. Channel 13; check listings for other PBS stations).

Shoshana Bean is the star of this episode. It was taped in September, before 2 local audiences.

But that’s not the only Shoshana news this week. The “Wicked” and “Witness” actress has just been signed to the cast of the new musical comedy “Mr. Saturday Night,” with Billy Crystal. The shows opens at the Nederlander Theatre on April 27.

Click below for a teaser of tonight’s broadcast.

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For some reason, Westporters are captivated by turkey vultures. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image comes from Morningside Drive North.

“There must be 3 dozen, in the trees and on the ground,” says Jilda Manikas.

(Photo/Jilda Manikas)

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And finally … in honor of the “Westport Progress Report on Floodplain Management” (see above):

Choose Westport. Find Space. Get A Job.

Choose Westport — the “economic opportunity website” targeting small businesses, entrepreneurs and other professionals in the tri-state region who may want to open in or relocate here — went live last month.

It’s added several new features since the rollout. One of the best: a list of available commercial real estate, with photos and details. Nearly 100 locations are there now, ranging from office buildings and shopping plazas in Saugatuck and downtown, and on the Post Road, to Joey’s by the Shore.

Want to buy the Joey’s property? Check it out via Choose Westport. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Meanwhile, the “Find Local Jobs” tab offers links to both private and municipal work.

Right now — according to Choose Westport (via Indeed) — there are 536 positions available. They range from servers and bussers at Walrus Alley ($20 to $50 an hour) to cosmetician, medical office front desk coordinator, store clerks and Mitchells tailor.

There are also 9 jobs with the town of Westport. They include administrative assistant, custodian, nurse, parks superintendent and part-time fire dispatcher.

Choose Westport is a robust website. Let’s hope it becomes a go-to resource for businesses seeking pace — and anyone who wants to work anywhere in town.

Food Trucks Feast On Uneven Playing Field

Most Westporters are familiar with Joey’s by the Shore — the great deli/burger/ice cream spot that replaced Elvira’s near Old Mill Beach — and Hook’d, the Compo concessionaire that has taken over from (yes) Joey’s.

We’re familiar too with trucks that serve coffee and snacks to construction crews, along with fuller-service food trucks, and others specializing in ice cream.

An “06880” reader was thinking about all of that the other day. He put 2 + 2 together.

It did not compute.

He watched in surprise as a truck parked, blocking Joey’s few parking spaces on Compo Hill. A customer who had been about to enter the store turned, and ordered instead from the truck.

It wasn’t just market supply and demand, the “06880” reader realized. It’s that the market playing field is not level.

A hard-working businessman. But not a direct taxpayer in town.

Joey’s owners pay property taxes. Joey pays rent. Hook’d has an expensive contract with the town.

Food truck owners are supposed to pay $35, for an annual Westport Weston Health District license. They are not allowed to operate on town-owned property (including Compo Beach or Soundview Drive, Longshore, Little League fields, and at or near functions like Slice of Saugatuck and the Yankee Doodle Fair).

Food trucks may also not operate “on the main traveled portion of any public roadway, interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic, or remain stationary for an extended period of time.”

Of course, they do.

Food trucks — including the popular Good Humor man — are supposed to be prohibited from selling on Soundview Drive.

Intrigued by the “06880” reader’s email, I asked the WWHD how many food trucks are actually licensed by the town.

There are 11: Alene’s Ice Cream, Alley Kat Pizza, Aramark Business Dining, Bee’s Knees Ice Pops, Bubble & Brew,  Christopher’s Crepes, Parlor Wilton Pizza, Skip’s Ice Cream, Super Duper Weenie, The Granola Bar and Walrus & Carpenter.

Not a coffee truck among them.

Food trucks serve hungry construction workers, for sure. Their owners are hard workers, trying to make a living.

But owners of Joey’s and Hook’d — and other places around town, like the Porch @ Christie’s and The Country Store Deli on Wilton Road — must wonder: What would happen if I operated without a license or permit too?

Roundup: Lifeguard Save, Point To Point Swim, Art Show …

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Despite the urgent alert on cellphones, last night’s severe thunderstorms skirted Westport.

Other parts of the state  were not so lucky. Nearly 20,000 Eversource customers in central and northwestern Connecticut lost power; 81 roads were blocked.

The utility is now preparing for the remnants of Hurricane Elsa. We may get rain tomorrow, into Friday.

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Westport Public Works employee Don Saunders has always been proud of his daughter Morgan.

These days, the entire department is proud of her.

Last week, the 17-year-old Calf Pasture Beach lifeguard saved a 9-year-old from drowning. She spotted the child face down in the water, sounded an alert and raced to help.

When she found no pulse, Morgan began CPR. It worked. The girl started breathing on her own.

Morgan is a rising senior at Norwalk High School, and a member of the swim team. This is her first full year as a lifeguard.

She’s already proven she’s a pro.

(Click here for a CBS New York story on Morgan’s rescue. Hat tip: Liz Lyons)

Morgan Saunders

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What a combination! MoCA Westport and the Westport Farmers’ Market are collaborating on a new project. It culminates in an exhibition in late August.

“Between the Ground and the Sky” will feature photography from the “Who Grows Your Food” initiative, a photographic journey celebrating the farms and farmers associated with the WFM.

As part of the collaboration, a Family Day (Saturday, September 11) at MoCA includes art, food and music.

The centerpiece of “Between the Ground and the Sky” is over 50 large photographs of local farms by Anne Burmeister and Ashley Skatoff. They tell a compelling story of the importance of local farms and farmers.

Westport Farmers’ Market director Lori Cochran says, “This program embodies the essence of our organizations. Bringing together art, education, community and knowledge of agriculture, featuring the hands that tend the land, results in more than a fun event – it creates an impact that will last a lifetime.”

MoCA executive director Ruth Mannes adds, “We are thrilled to partner with the Westport Farmers’ Market to share this important aspect of our economy and our lives with the public.”

“Lost Ruby” by Ashley Skatoff — part of the Farmers’ Market/MoCA exhibit.

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Get your goggles on!

The 42nd annual Compo Beach Point to Point Swim is set for July 21  18 It’s a ton of fun — and a key fundraiser for the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s aquatics program.

There are awards for the top 3 male and female finishers, and t-shirts for all. To register, click here. For more information email jrojas@wesetporty.org, or call 203-226-8981, ext. 139.

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The Westport Library and Artists Collective of Westport are collaborating on their first live, all-member show since December 2019. The theme could not be more apt: “Community.”

The 2-part exhibit — on view from July 10 through September 28 — will occupy all 3 Library galleries.

“Piece by Piece” is a 5’ x 12’ installation created by 60 Artists Collective members. Each artist received a 12” x 12” blank panel, and a 6-inch square section randomly selected from an iconic painting.

Each artist thencreated an individual piece, replicating a part of the larger painting in their own style. They will not know what the final painting looks like until it is revealed when the exhibit opens.

Each 12” x 12” piece can be purchased online for $100. Proceeds support the Library and the artist. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

Along with the exhibits, there is an art trunk show in the lower parking lot this Sunday (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Part of the Westport Library/Artists Collective show.

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The 59th annual event Westport PAL Golf Tournament — named for former Police Chief Samuel Luciano, a staunch PAL supporter — tees off on September 13, at Longshore. With the 4th of July fireworks canceled for a 2nd straight year, this is PAL’s biggest — and most important — fundraiser.

The day begins at 7 a.m. with a continental breakfast and putting contest. There are 2 tee times: 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

There’s a shotgun start, scramble format; lunch; more golf, then dinner, raffles and prizes (hole-in-one, hula hoop, longest drive, closest to pin).

The cost is $175 per golfer, $700 per foursome. Sponsorships are available too, from $150 to $5,000 (largest sign at first tee, banner on dinner tent, complimentary foursome). Click here to register, sponsor — or just donate to PAL.

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And one more upcoming event: “Pitch Perfect,” at the  Remarkable Theater drive-in (Monday, July 12 9 p.m.; gates open for tailgating at 8 p.m.). Click here for tickets and more information.

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There have been some scintillating games at this year’s Euro 20 (the European soccer championship, postponed from last year).

Games are particularly great on a big screen. There’s no bigger screen than the one at Vivid-Tek. That’s Mark Motyl’s store a few doors from Fortuna’s. He sells 110-inch theater screens — which, with the tap of a button, hides in a customized credenza or bench when not in use.

Mark invited me over yesterday to watch the Spain-Italy semifinal. We were in Westport, not Wembley.

But it was hard to tell the difference.

Mark Motyl, minutes before the Euro 2020 semifinal.

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1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Wally Meyer, former Westport 2nd Selectman and longtime member of the RTM.  He served with my predecessor, Marty Hauhuth from 1985 to 1989.

“Wally was also an active participant in making Westport a better place by helping found Project Return, and through his many years of service and leadership with the Westport Rotary Club.

“Wally was a special Westporter — always willing to share his opinion, but also willing to lend a helping hand.  He will be missed by all who knew him. My deepest condolences to his many friends and to his family.”

Wally Meyer

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Today’s “Naturally … Westport” photo shows a dog.

Not just any pooch, though. This one has great taste. He is first in line, waiting patiently for Joey’s by the Shore to open.

(Photo/Jeff Fiarman)

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And finally … on this day in 1992, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that women have the same right as men to go topless in public.

Roundup: Senior Center, Morningside South, Joey’s Delivery …

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It’s the news seniors have been waiting for.

Starting July 1, the Senior Center will reopen. It’s limited, sure — but it will be wonderful for the thousands of Westporters who rely on our great center.

The phased reopening will include in-house, outdoor, hybrid, televised and Zoom classes all summer long.

Director Sue Pfister and her staff have meticulously established safety protocols. They includes enhanced air-handlers, sanitizers, and other CDC-guided precautions.

There’s also a canopy over part of the back patio, to extend outdoor space.

The congregate luncheon program will remain closed until September. In addition, summer plans will not include drop-in visits or congregating during the initial reopening phase. Water fountains will not be available, so participants are encouraged to bring a water bottle from home.

Senior Center participants must pre-register with the new registration system MyActiveCenter (https://myactivecenter.com/) to sign up for activities, classes, and programs.  For instructions and a list of upcoming courses, please visit www.westportct.gov/seniorcenter or call 203-341-5099.

Back in action soon!

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For months, Westporters have wondered about the fate of the Kowalsky property. The large tract of land on Morningside Drive South and Clapboard Hill Road is some of the last privately owned open space in town.

Part of it is now on the market. The real estate listing says:

Perc tests and a Conceptual Plan are now available outlining a proposed 8 Bedroom home, Infinity Edge Swimming Pool and Septic. Build your dream home on this prestigious 2.0 Acre property in a well established Greens Farms neighborhood.

This property is truly majestic with part ownership of a man made pond, and several character outbuildings. This sought after location is less than a mile to Metro North/Greens Farms train station and Burying Hill Beach. Two homes on Morningside Drive South (# 90 and # 88) have SOLD within the year, both currently in stages of being torn down for over a million dollars an acre. There is value here on this special piece of land.

This is a Land listing. The home on the property is ‘As Is’. As with any Land listing, buyers to perform their own due diligence.

117 Morningside Drive South.

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Plenty of people like Hook’d on the Sound, the new Compo Beach concessionaire.

Plenty do not like the fact that it closes at 6 p.m.

The previous snack bar tenant — Joey’s by the Shore — stayed open till dark. Two years ago, he relocated to the former Elvira’s, around the corner across from Old Mill Beach.

Now Joey’s has introduced a delivery service to Compo. It’s available Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

You can order online. Enter “2 Soundview Drive” as the delivery address. Your food will be delivered — in a thermal bag, with no extra charge — at the pickup/ dropoff location next to the Compo volleyball courts.

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The undefeated, nationally ranked Staples High School rugby team kicked off its national tournament quest in Kansas City yesterday with a 26-22 win against St. Thomas Aquinas. The Wreckers are ranked #5; Aquinas was #4. The temperature at the start was 100.

Little Barn The Little Barn in Westport is the local site for viewing. The next match is tonight (6 p.m.), against #1 Herriman from Utah.

Watching yesterday’s game at Little Barn. (Photo/Terry Brannigan)

Previewing the tournament, a rugby publication described Staples as “the best-kept secret of the tournament. (They have) compiled one heck of a season up in Connecticut. Winners over big dogs Xavier, Greenwich, and Fairfield, these boys are battle-tested and battle-accomplished. Jot them down as your dark horse now.”

For more information on the national rugby tournament, click here.

Staples rugby in action, earlier this year.

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Wakeman Town Farm kicks off its farm stand season tomorrow (Saturday, June 19, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Every Saturday, the Cross Highway stand features farm-grown veggies, baked goods, honeys, Shearwater coffee, Wave Hill breads, Kneads pastries, Pam’s Jams, Guardians farm goat soap & lotion, plus logowear.

Tomorrow’s fresh produce offerings include collard greens, lettuce, kale, peas, radishes, garlic scapes, Chinese green onions, strawberries (limited quantities!), and herbs.

This year, WTF expands its offerings with a rotating list of local guest vendors. This week they welcome Lorenza Arnal, creator of Alma de Mexico’s homemade salsas, and Sk*p, a sustainably packaged hair & body care line with local roots.

PS: Visitors can also say hi to the WTF animals.

Teagan Smith, at the WTF farm stand.

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Tomorrow is also the day for Westport Paddle Club’s great Saugatuck River cleanup. Everyone is welcome to jump in a kayak, then pick up debris.

It starts around 5 p.m. — an hour or so before high tide — so you can paddle up with the tide, then drift back with it too.

Everyone will be back before 8. It will still be light — and time to party. Jr’s Deli & Grille provides the grub. (Click here for details.)

To get in the mood, check out last night’s report on News12. Even if you can’t make it tomorrow, you’ll learn a lot about the river. And the drone views are outstanding!

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Looking for action, entertainment and laughs?

The Remarkable Theater’s upcoming shows include:

  • “Black Panther” (Monday, June 21)
  • “The Birdcage” (Wednesday, June 23)
  • “The Breakfast Club” (Monday, June 28)

All shows begin at 8:45 p.m. Gates open at the Imperial Avenue parking lot at 7:45, for tailgating. Click here for tickets.

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Westport’s own Dale Najarian is one of 5 features artists at George Billis Gallery‘s new pop-up exhibit, “Summer Escape.”

It opens today (Friday, June 18), with an open reception from 4 to 7 p.m. The exhibit runs through July 25.

“Summer Escape” includes oceans, beaches, pool scenes, waterscapes, and paintings inspired by travel in the US and Europe.

George Billis Gallery is at 166 Main Street. It’s open every day except Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

“Compo Beach,” oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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Staples High School’s Class of 1976 is planning their 45th reunion. And — in the spirit of ’76 — they’re doing more than their share.

The July 30-31 weekend includes parties at the Black Duck and Compo Beach. They’ve added a “Great Gatsby” town tour.

And — because several classmates volunteer with CLASP Homes, the supportive housing organization for people with developmental disabilities (and Tracy Flood works there), the reunion-goers will do yard projects at the site. (They might not even know that CLASP was founded in 1976!)

Class of ’76 members seeking more information can email staples76reunion@gmail.com.

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“Westport … Naturally” finds us today at Burying Hill Beach:

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally … in honor of Staples High School’s 450-plus graduates yesterday, here is Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.”

The whole thing. But if you want just the traditional processional march, it starts at 1:57.

 

Roundup: Black Bear, Private Ryan, Chad Knight …

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A black bear has been making its way south, from northern Fairfield County. On Saturday, it roamed around the Cranbury area of Norwalk.

Yesterday, the medium-sized mammal lumbered into Westport. Stella Wong spotted it in her Old Hill back yard, around 9 a.m.

“It looked healthy and beautiful,” she reports. Then it headed downhill, toward Wilton Road.

(Photo/Stella Wong)

Later yesterday, the bear was spotted at the Westport Weston Family YMCA, near Mahackeno.

No word on whether it had a membership pass.

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Last night’s Remarkable Theater showing of “Saving Private Ryan” was rained out.

It’s rescheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, June 1, 8 p.m.). So you can extend your Memorial Day weekend one day.

Click here for ticket information, and future shows.

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Staples High School students raise funds for many worthy projects. They thank their donors, work hard — but in their busy day-to-day worlds, never share the results of their efforts.

Jackson Cregan remembers.

The 9th grader loves Sherwood Island. After raising funds for Friends of Sherwood Island, he sent along this update:

“100%  of your donations were used to purchase seagrass and jute erosion control cloth, trees and shrubs.

“In early April, I helped restore dunes. We planted 2,400 seagrass stems with 18 volunteers. In late April, we planted 125 trees and shrubs with 20 volunteers.

Jackson volunteers there nearly every week. He is learning from Michele Sorensen and other master gardeners. He helps with dune restoration, removing invasive species, tree planting, creating pollinator pathways, and maintenance.

Great work, Jackson! And thanks for letting all of us know what’s going on at our great state park.

Jackson Cregan, with Michele Sorenson.

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Congratulations to Chad Knight!

Yesterday the former Staples High School and Little League World Series star’s current team — Duke University — won the ACC championship, 1-0 over NC State. It was the Blue Devils’ 4th ACC baseball title — but first in 60 years.  

Knight — a 2-time state champion at Staples — batted .272, with 2 home runs, this year.

Chad Knight

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Memorial Day weekend’s rains meant a washout for many local businesses.

News12 sent a crew to Joey’s by the Shore. As expected, sales were slow. The popular deli/market had stocked up on supplies, expecting big crowds. But neighbors were stopping in. And the cameraman got some great shots, of Joey’s and Old Mill Beach.

Click here for the report.

Screenshot from yesterday’s News12 report.

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The Sunrise Rotary Club has missed 2 years’ worth of Great Duck Race fundraising efforts. Which means we haven’t seen Sunny the Duck bobbing in the Saugatuck River for 2 years either.

But the club is marching in today’s Memorial Day parade. And they’re marching with “Little Ralphie,” Sunny’s smaller counterpart.

Club members inflated Ralphie yesterday. They had a blast.

From left: Sunrise Rotary president George Masumian; members Jake Labate, Mark Mathias and Mike Hibbard. Little Ralphie is behind them. (Drone photo/Mark Mathias)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo includes this mommy and her 10 babies. Can you find them all?

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … B.J. Thomas died yesterday at his home near Dallas, of complications from lung cancer. He was 78.

Though best known for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” — the song from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which connected him forever with Westport’s Paul Newman and Weston’s Robert Redford — he had many other successes. Fifteen singles reached the Top 10, and he earned 5 Grammys.

I never liked “Raindrops.” But I sure did appreciate much of the rest of B.J. Thomas’ music. What a voice! (Click here for a full obituary.)