In June of last year, “06880” wandered over the border to report on Southport Beach.
Staples Class of 2004 grad Hunter King and his brothers, Carter and Parker, had just won a bid for the concession stand there. They invested $30,000 — and considerable sweat — into transforming the 66-year-old “shack” into a unique dining experience.
They sourced food from local farmers, dairymen and ranchers. The non-traditional — but delicious — beach menu included garlic herb marinated shrimp skewers, quesadillas, lobster tacos, chicken chimichangas, bacon jam burgers and hormone-and-preservative-free hot dogs.
“King’s Kitchen” became the go-to concession stand. Connecticut Magazine named it #28 on its Top 100 Places in the State list.
But in October, Hurricane Sandy struck. The wooden shack was knocked off its foundation, and floated 30 feet across Pequot Avenue.
Thought undamaged, Fairfield’s Parks and Rec Department told Hunter on May 1 that he could not use the building. The town said FEMA regulations required a new foundation, 13 feet above wave height — and a handicap ramp 156 feet long.
With less than a month to go before opening, Hunter agreed to service his contract using a vending cart.
The contract called for the town to supply a building, water, power and wastewater services. But power was not restored until July 8.
The health inspector limited the menu to 4 items — with no coffee or breakfast food allowed.
The town put the shack up for sale. Hunter was the sole bidder, at $450 — the amount raised at a “Save the Shack” pig roast fundraiser held at the beach.
Given just 1 week to act, the Kings went to work. But jacking up the building, and securing permits, trucking and a final home for the shack was too daunting.
Richard — their 59-year-old father — fell from the building during the jacking process, and spent 10 days in ICU.
The town has threatened numerous times to crush the building. Word on the Southport streets — and the side of the building — is that it will be demolished tomorrow (Monday, August 12).
Southport residents believe once the shack is moved, it will no longer be grandfathered in. All food service at the beach would be eliminated.
Frustrated by what they called “the lack of transparency and duplicitousness on the part of the Town, no indications of their future plans for the beach, and heavy handed treatment without real regulatory notice or statutory imperative,” a group of beach lovers is urging Fairfield citizens to contact the first selectman (email@example.com), Parks and Rec director (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Parks and Rec Commission chair (email@example.com).
The group asks to be cced: SaveTheShack@gmail.com.
Time, they note, is very, very short.