Tag Archives: Lloyd Allen

Double L Market: Seeds Of Survival

For over 30 years, Lloyd Allen has served Westporters.

First at actual farm stands, now in a Post Road store next to Calise’s, he offers the freshest fruits, vegetables, eggs, bread, meat, fish, baked goods, soups, salads and flowers.

For the past 14 months though, he’s actually had to serve his customers.

COVID dealt a death blow to many small businesses. Food services were particularly hard hit.

Lloyd Allen, outside his Double L Market on the Post Road.

But Lloyd knows his onions. As soon as the pandemic shut his doors last March, he pivoted. His Double L Market pivoted immediately to curbside.

“We didn’t dither,” Lloyd says. “We transformed completely into a warehouse.”

Unlike many markets, he did not create a website for customers to order from.

Double L Market is always in season (Photo/Ed Simek)

Working with Apple (the company, not the fruit), he devised a text-based ordering system. Rather than clicking items into a virtual “shopping cart,” Double L developed a friendly, interactive conversation-style experience.

Customers texted what they wanted. Armed with iPhones and iPads, employees filled orders. If they had a question — “What kind of berries exactly?” or “We’re out of those potatoes; what would you like instead?” — they texted immediately.

Employees texted again when the order was ready for pickup.

At first, customers simply sent lists: “2 blueberries, 1 strawberry, 3 broccoli crowns, 4 honey crisps, 2 little gems, 1 cauliflower white, 1 baby bok choy.”

Soon, they started adding messages: “2 raspberries, 2 chicken empanadas, 1 piece of salmon. You rock!”

One customer asked Lloyd to recommend items. “Peaches?” he asked. “Sure! 4 is good!” came the reply.

“It felt like texting a friend,” Lloyd says. That makes sense. Most of his customers already were friends.

Vendors got into texting mode quickly too:

Last weekend — for the first time since March 2020 — Lloyd opened Double L Market’s doors back up.

Many customers were grateful. Perhaps 20%, he estimates, had never been inside before. They’re new arrivals to town, who know his store only through curbside.

They are thrilled to finally roam the aisles.

Customers who knew Double L from before were impressed too. The long shutdown proved to be a good time to paint and freshen up the interior.

But other people like the convenience of texting and pickup. They want to keep shopping that way. So Lloyd will continue offering the option.

He’ll also still deliver to local customerx who for any reason cannot come to him.

Back in business — indoors.

Lloyd’s quick pivot enabled him to keep all his employees, throughout the entire 14 months. He did not even need a PPP loan to keep going.

In fact, he says, he even hired out-of-work restaurant employees to help.

Lloyd left nothing to chance. During the darkest times, he divided his crews into 2. Each worked separate days. That way, if one was diagnosed with COVID, only half of his staff would have to quarantine.

The “time off” — Lloyd was on only one crew — offered him time to start a blog. He writes deftly about food, in all its forms: what’s at the market, how it got there, and much more.

As he spoke about the past 14 months, Lloyd grew emotional. He’s proud of what he and his employees accomplished, gratified at the loyalty and trust his customers showed, and happy to be back.

All his life he’s watched farmers sow, nurture and reap.

Now it’s his turn.

Double L Market Owner Angered By Health District Dispute

Lloyd Allen is one of the most chill people I know.

The owner of Double L Market has cultivated a loyal clientele. Customers love his fresh, local, organic, free-range, gluten-free and grass-fed meats, produce, seafood and more. They come not just to buy, but to banter with him.

He’s been operating for more than 30 years, first in actual farm stands, now in a Post Road store next to Calise’s.

Lloyd Allen, outside his Double L Market on the Post Road.

But yesterday Lloyd was upset. Also angry, appalled and disheartened.

His voice shook as he told me that 2 weeks earlier, the Westport Weston Health District inspected Double L, and gave him a 94.

On Wednesday, another inspection. Another grade of 94.

But then, he said, he got a call. There was a problem with labeling, he was told. He said he’d be in at 8:45 yesterday morning.

At the meeting he was told: “You’ve got a serious problem. We’re going to close you down today.”

The problem was with labels on salsa, tomato sauce and canned peppers. They did not include the weight, or indicate where the products came from.

He asked exactly what was needed to rectify the problem. “I don’t know,” a young inspector told him.

She said the state Department of Consumer Protection might be involved too.

Lloyd told “06880” that Double L buys from producers with HACCP food safety accreditation — “and you can’t get higher than that.”

Westport Weston Health District inspectors at Double L Market. (Photo/Lloyd Allen)

The WWHD inspector came into his store, and embargoed everything she said was improperly labeled.

Lloyd does not dispute the need for proper labeling. His issue, he says, is that he was not told earlier about the issue, offered a chance to rectify it — or even given the proper information on what he needed to do.

He is also furious at the way he was treated.

“They showed me no respect,” he said. “I’ve been here for 35 years. I have the healthiest, freshest stuff in town. I love local. I work with big farmers and small farmers.

“I’ve made this town better. I’ve worked with so many kids. The Health Department used to come in, and tell me what was needed. This time they just came in and acted, without any respect at all.”

He worried yesterday he might be shut down, right before Mother’s Day.

Double L Market is still open — though there are empty shelves where his salsa, tomato sauce and canned peppers used to be.

Empty shelves at the Double L market.

“It’s like I was walking down the street with my baby, and someone suddenly grabbed me and shook the baby,” Lloyd said.

“That’s how I feel about the way I was treated.”

Bert’s Firewood

Bert Porzio is one of Westport’s all-around good guys.

The tree service owner lends a hand — no questions asked — in emergencies large and small. He helps families in need, Little League fields — you name it, Bert’s there.

With all those trees, it’s no surprise that a side gig is selling firewood. For years, customers picked up cords at the Mobil Self-Serve next to Barnes & Noble. Many say it’s the best wood around.

Unfortunately, the gas station closed earlier this fall. With winter near, what’s a Westporter to do?

Lloyd Allen to the rescue!

The owner of Double L Farm Stand less than a mile west of the Mobil station told Bert he’s happy to sell his firewood.

It’s a warm win-win for everyone.

Bert Porzio at the Double L Farm Stand

Unsung Hero #16

A couple of Sundays ago, Julie Gannon was canning tomatoes.

Hours later — at 6 p.m. — she had 18 jars lined up. They were sterilized, prepped — but she had run out of tomatoes.

She texted Lloyd Allen. The owner of Double L Market quickly replied. He had 2 boxes left. She could pick them up the next day.

Immediately though, he texted back again. He wanted to know if Julie was in the middle of canning.

When she said yes, Lloyd said he knew what that was like. He offered to drive to the store from Wilton, and open up.

At 7 p.m. he was there — with a huge smile.

Lloyd Allen, with his familiar smile.

Over and over, she thanked him profusely. Each time, Lloyd said he was glad to help.

“He’s always so positive and helpful,” Julie says of the popular farm stand owner.

“He has amazing products, and homemade soups, sauces and tamales. When you shop at Double L, you always feel like you’re dealing with a friend.

“Lloyd always tries to help in any way he can. That’s special and rare. I love Lloyd!”

“06880” does too. That’s why Lloyd Allen is this week’s Unsung Hero!

(To nominate an unsung hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Lloyd Allen, outside his Double L Market on the Post Road.

Double L’s Secret Llibrarian

For over 3 decades, Westporters have known — and loved — the Double L Farm Stand. Lloyd Allen’s Post Road spot is the place for locally grown fruit and veggies, grass-fed beef, banter and community.

For more than 5 years, it’s also been a library.

Every 2 or 3 weeks, someone leaves a book just underneath the front window. Most are by best-selling authors, and/or from the New York Times bestseller list.

Some of the books left underneath the farm stand's front window.

Some of the books left underneath the farm stand’s front window.

Lloyd has no idea who his secret donor is. Nor does he know why he or she does it.

But he’s built a very nice lending library. His customers love it.

And — just like Lloyd’s produce — it’s growing very nicely.

Part of Lloyd Allen's lending library.

Part of Lloyd Allen’s lending library.

“Double L” Starts 3rd Decade

It’s moved a couple of times. It’s added a few items. It’s raised prices once or twice.

But other than that, not much has changed since the Double L Farm Stand opened more than 30 years ago.

The first funky farm stand on Kings Highway North, near Nash's Pond and the waterfall.

The first funky farm stand on Kings Highway North, near Nash’s Pond and the waterfall.

Owner Lloyd Allen (Double L — get it?) has offered roadside fruits, vegetables and more since the (other) Clinton administration.

(He did take off a few years, to try to write a musical and actually write a book, “Being Martha: The Inside Story of Martha Stewart and Her Amazing Life”).

Location #2: On the Post Road just over the Southport line, in the former Casa Verde Nursery.

Location #2: On the Post Road just over the Southport line, in the former Casa Verde Nursery.

His “roadside” is now a Post Road storefront near Hillspoint Road. But Double L has weathered everything from the economy and competition from new outlets to — well, the weather.

Lloyd Allen, outside his current "farm stand" on the Post Road.

Lloyd Allen, outside his current “farm stand” on the Post Road.

Enjoy your 3rd decade, Lloyd and crew. Here’s to more great, fresh food!

A promotion from Double L's first year. Lloyd Allen's style hasn't changed a bit.

A promotion from Double L’s first year. Lloyd Allen’s style hasn’t changed a bit.

Daylight Savings Begins Tomorrow (Part 2)

As always, Lloyd Allen’s Double L Farm Stand has us thinking ahead.

Lloyd Allen

Another Opening, A Hell Of A Show

Great food stories just follow Lloyd Allen around.

Westporters know him as the owner of the beloved Double L Farm Stand. But last night — in the midst of the blizzard — he found himself at the Westport Inn.

Starving.

Along with the rest of the packed-to-the-rafters guests.

Hunter King

Hunter King

Fortunately, the inn’s brand-new Red Hen restaurant — run by Hunter King, of the very popular King’s Kitchen at Southport Beach — was open.

Well, not exactly.

It was their very 1st day in business. They’d planned a nice, soft  opening.

It didn’t happen.

As the hordes descended, things got crazy.

Fortunately, a few diners jumped in to help.

People named Jed and Lexi cooked. Another guy — Christian — prepped food, waited tables and did everything else except slaughter a cow.

Jed and Lexi.

Lexi and Jed, on the job.

Luca Kupper — of Double L fame — chopped vegetables.

Ethan Lindenbaum and his mom Jamie walked to Stop & Shop to get more food.

And Lloyd himself washed dishes.

Breakfast this morning was even wilder.

Tonight, Lloyd says, they’re doing Mardi Gras: crawfish gumbo, Texas buffalo burger sliders with mozzarella, Cajun tacos and po’ boys.

Kinda makes you want to be stranded for a while, doesn’t it?

Luca, slinging meat.

Luca, slinging meat.

Lloyd Allen, washing dishes.

Lloyd Allen, washing dishes.

Jamie and Ethan Lindenbaum walked to Stop & Shop for supplies.

Jamie and Ethan Lindenbaum walked to Stop & Shop for supplies.

The Red Hen's gumbo is lookin' good.

The Red Hen’s gumbo is lookin’ good!

Fresh Stuff!

Man cannot live on Planet Pizza alone (though for the past 2 days, I’ve tried).

Lloyd Allen — the irrepressible owner of Double L Farm Stand on the Post Road next to Calise’s — reports that one of his dairy farms milked cows till midnight last night.

And deliveries of fresh produce, fish, meat and dairy are coming in daily.

Sign ‘Em Up

In the span of 12 hours last week, 2 alert readers emailed several shots of local signs.

In typical Westport fashion, they’re poles apart.

A woman named Victoria is not a big fan of the signs that have sprouted at Bridge Square.

She writes:

I know there was some concern when Dunkin’ Donuts moved in and had their flags. That was nothing compared with the eyesore that is on the corner now.

We are big fans of the new restaurants that have moved in and wish them lots of success, but hope they can modify their Pepsi advertising signage and their massive white board which seems more appropriate for a Holiday Inn conference. Do any local laws govern signage such as this?

A couple of miles away — geographically and philosophically — there’s Lloyd Allen. The owner of Double L Farm Stand is a big fan of creative, eye-catching and hand-made signs.

However, he says, the recent P&Z “clean sweep” of Post Road signs has forced him to remove some of his own. Right now they rest in front of his store — not, more visibly, nailed to nearby trees.

“The town takes its signs seriously,” he notes. But, he says — tongue only slightly in cheek — “If my sign said ‘Vote Grass Fed!’ that would be okay.

“Or ‘Still Lost: Free Range Chickens.”

Meanwhile, “the biggest signs of all are the ones that say ‘Space Available’ up and down the Post Road.”

“Count them,” Lloyd says, referring to the legal “For Rent” signs. “Go figure the logic behind it all.

“Of course, businesses can pay $80 for a minuscule chalk board sign that’s unreadable form a car going the posted speed limit.”

Lloyd believes each establishment should be allowed one sign. “Better that,” he says, “than going out of business.”

After which your landlord can put up a big, ginormous sign. Saying “Space Available.”