Tag Archives: Joey’s by the Shore

Pic Of The Day #948

Just a day after the town announced that Joey Romeo was no longer the Compo Beach and Longshore concessionaire, the “Joey’s by the Shore” sign was gone. Joey’s opened in 1988. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Joey Romeo: Running Concession Was “Highlight Of My Life”

On the heels of today’s announcement, Joey Romeo — owner of Joey’s by the Shore — has asked me to send this message to his countless loyal customers:

After 32 years serving the community, we were unable to come to an agreement with the town of Westport to continue operating our concessions at Compo Beach, the Longshore Pavilion, and the halfway house on the golf course.

It has been a pleasure to serve the all of our customers for all of these years. It has also been a joy to watch generations grow up in town. I have absolutely loved employing and mentoring so many students and young people. All have gone on to become productive adults.

Running Joey’s has been the highlight of my life. I will miss it, and all of you. I wish everyone the best and I look forward to seeing our beloved customers, employees, and friends around town.

Joey Romeo

Shock Waves: Joey’s Out As Beach Concessionaire

For over 30 years, one of the joys of Compo Beach has been Joey’s by the Shore.

Joey Romeo has been more than just a concessionaire. He’s developed the most extensive menu of any beach food shack anywhere (he’s also sold beach towels, chairs, hoodies and more). He’s opened on spring weekends long before the official beach season, and been there on fall weekends long after the summer crowds have gone.

Joey Romeo, in a typical pose.

He’s the friendliest guy you’ll know, with a great, hard-working staff of (this is a rarity) Westport kids. He makes sure they’re polite, efficient, and that they keep the area spotless.

So it was a shock to learn from Parks and Recreation director Jennifer Fava just moments ago that Joey’s By The Shore will no longer operate the concession at Compo Beach — or the others at the Longshore Pavilion and Longshore halfway house — effective immediately.

Fava says, “Regrettably, Mr. Romeo has advised us that he will not pay the full rent due in 2019 under his lease, nor is he willing to fulfill his remaining 3 years under the lease. We have made every effort to negotiate mutually acceptable terms, but we have not reached an agreement with him.”

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

First Selectman, Jim Marpe added, “We appreciate the many years of service Joey has provided to the community, especially at Compo Beach, providing food for our beachgoers and jobs for some of our young adults. We will be working to get a new concessionaire in place to meet the needs of our residents and users.”

I’ve reached out to Joey for comment. Anecdotally, I’ve heard (though not from Joey) that last year — in the aftermath of new, heftier fees for Westonites and other out-of-towners, and a limit on the number of daily passes sold — was a tough one for him.

I’ll follow up when I hear back. In the meantime, here’s a tip of the Compo cap to Joey Romeo, and all his staff, for their 31 years of loyal, loving service to Westport.

Unsung Heroes #112

As summer winds down, this week’s Unsung Heroes is a no-brainer.

Everyone — and there’s a ton — who made this year’s Compo, Burying Hill and Old Mill Beach and Longshore experiences so wonderful: Take a bow!

If you are a:

  • Parks & Recreation maintenance worker, who cleans up our messes so conscientiously and professionally
  • Parks & Rec gate attendant, who waves us in, collects our fees and deals so smilingly with a not-always-smiling public
  • Parks & Rec Department staffer or Commission member, who helped shepherd the new improvements (South Beach sidewalk and bathroom, new tables and grills) through from conception to completion
  • Lifeguard, who keeps us safe, provides first aid, reunites lost kids with panicked parents, and endured a few very boring days in the chair watching the water when the beaches were closed (special shout-out to directors Heidi List Murphy and Danilo Sierra)

  • Marina worker (and of course Westport Police marine unit member), who do so much good stuff the public seldom sees
  • Joey Romeo or part of his youthful “By the Shore” staff at Compo and Longshore, who serve great food and never get mad even when we have no idea what to order despite standing in line for 10 minutes thinking about it

(Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

  • Longshore golf course, tennis court or pool attendant, who we see every day, in all kinds of weather and seldom even nod to
  • Early-morning employee like Drew Grega, who grooms the beach so well and unobtrusively we never even know you’re there …

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

It would not have been a wonderful Westport summer without you.

PS: I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone. If I have — aaargh! Just add those Unsung Heroes in the “Comments” section.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Very Special Family Visits Joey’s

Joey’s by the Shore is one of Westport’s not-so-hidden gems.

It’s got the most interesting menu of any beach place I’ve seen. Joey, Donny and the kids who work there do a great job cooking, handling crowds, and coaxing orders out of kids (and parents) who get to the cash register, look up from their iPhones and suddenly have no idea what they want.

Joey’s crew is also fanatical about keeping the place looking nice, inside and out.

One thing they should not have to do is clean up after customers.

On my way inside Sunday, I passed a family — dad, mom, 3 cute kids — eating at a patio table. The sky was blue; the vibe, wonderfully chill.

This is what I saw when I came out:

The happy family was nowhere to be seen.

Of course, they may have had an excellent excuse for leaving their gross mess:

Perhaps it was their maid’s day off.

Summer’s Second Strong Storm

Just 18 hours after yesterday’s tree-downing, power-outing storm, a more brutal one — with even less warning — roared through town.

At the Westport Library, the Saugatuck River is nearly obscured by wind-driven rain. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

Packing winds of about 60 miles an hour, plus hail, this one followed by a few seconds an alert from the National Weather Service.

One umbrella hit this home’s window “like a torpedo.” (Photo/Marty Jaramillo)

In its wake, over 1,500 customers were without power. Trees blocked South Compo Road, Narrow Rocks, Jennie Lane, Mayflower Parkway and the Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach. Tents for the downtown Sidewalk Sale were uprooted on Main Street.

Hillandale Road, near West Parish. (Photo/Robin Gusick)

Just a couple of hours earlier, the forecast was for mostly sunny skies.

Mayflower Parkway (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

As of right now — 3:50 pm — the skies over Westport are clear and bright.

The deluge did not last long — but it was intense. (Photo/Jilda Manikas)

Tonight and tomorrow’s forecast calls for sunny and clear weather too.

Beachgoers fled Compo. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Westport’s marine police assisted a sailboat in distress. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Umbrellas were tossed into the water … (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

… and all around Joey’s. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

The storm even toppled a tough-to-move lifeguard chair. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Amazingly, just moments before the storm hit, this advertising plane flew over Compo Beach. Its message: “Keep calm – Call Tom Atty.” (Photo/Beverly Bailey)

Photo Challenge #200

Security cameras have become so ubiquitous, we don’t even notice them.

So it’s not surprising that last week’s Photo Challenge — showing more than half a dozen cameras on top of a building — drew guesses of spots all around town.

The train station? Levitt Pavilion? Police station? Town Hall? No, no, no and no.

The cameras in question (click here to see) are located atop Joey’s by the Shore — the Compo beach concession stand. Andrew Colabella and Michael Calise — longtime and constant beachgoers — were the first 2 readers with the right answer.

But why would a beach restaurant need security cameras?

Andrew explained:

In the summer of 2016 there was a serious spike in vandalism, break-ins, driving on the beach, and illicit and suspicious activity. Lifeguard chairs were dragged into the water, Joey’s was broken into, and money was removed/stolen/missing from the gate.

In the past before that, boats had been burglarized and the lifeguard shack was broken into.

These cameras — along with many others strategically placed in and around the beach — record and are viewed by town employees in the Parks & Rec and Police Departments. The technological ability of these cameras is astonishing.

Since then, illegal activities have dropped dramatically.

So be cool out there. Big Brother — or at least the town — is watching.

Here is this week’s Photo Challenge:

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

If you know where in Westport you’d see this hand-sprayed “No Parking” sign, click “Comments” below.

And if you know why someone painted it there — in a seemingly legit parking spot — we’d like to know too!

One More Place To Party At The Beach

You can’t reserve tables in the Compo Beach pavilion.

But — starting immediately — you can reserve that cool little space (formerly storage) recently carved out between the brick pavilion and Joey’s.

In a low-key announcement, Parks and Rec says they’re “excited to offer a new PARTY RENTAL space.”

(Note: they never say exactly where it is — beyond “on east beach and conveniently located next to Joey’s by the Shore.” I’m assuming it’s here:

Staples High School sophomores in the party space next to Joey’s last night. They did not have to rent it.

The email continues:

This picnic area holds a maximum of 60 people, and can be rented out from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 4 p.m. until sunset, or even all day to meet your party needs! This is a great location for your children’s parties or family gatherings! Joey’s will be happy to assist in your catering needs!

There are a few rules:

You must apply no later than 72 hours before the event. Applications are first-come, first-served. The permit fee is $50 (plus a refundable $100 security/clean-up deposit).

Guests without parking stickers must pay the regular daily fees. Businesses and non-profits can rent the space Mondays through Thursdays, and are allowed up to 15 parking waivers.

No alcohol, glass, candles or tiki torches. No amplified music either.

Oh, yeah: “Food and catering trucks are not allowed. Catered food must be purchased from Joey’s by the  Shore.”

Joey Romeo can handle all your catering needs.

Does that mean you can’t bring any food in? Picnics? Pizza from Romanacci? What exactly is “catered” food?

It shouldn’t matter. Joey’s is great, easy to work with, and can provide whatever you need.

This is the second specially defined party space at Compo. For years, anyone could rent the clubhouse at Ned Dimes Marina for $275 (though most Westporters don’t know that).

So enjoy your next party at the new space “conveniently located next to Joey’s.”

And if you’ve got a better name for the spot, click “Comments” below.

(Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)

Remembering Billy Hess

Billy Hess — the popular and longtime Joey’s by the Shore employee, who ran the Longshore concession stand — died yesterday. Last year, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Last year, Joey’s owner Joey Romeo told “06880”:

Billy has been the heart and soul of Joey’s for 30 years. Known for his selfless demeanor and permanent smile, he loves Westport and serving our customers.

In addition to an unparalleled work ethic, he’s the unofficial “Mr. Fix-It” of Compo and Longshore. Whether changing a flat tire, retrieving a kite from a tree or repairing a broken beach chair, he’s always there and eager to help — whether he knows you or not.  He’s the first to volunteer and the last to take credit.

Billy is survived by his wife Gina, and 3 daughters.

He also leaves behind countless friends: customers he served with passion and dedication, and workers he mentored with love and care.

Billy Hess with his wife Gina and daughters.

Pic Of The Day #363

A sure sign of spring: Joey’s is open! (Photo/Amy Schneider)