Tag Archives: Manna Toast

The Blondinit: Israeli Food Coming To Church Lane

If you want authentic Israeli food, go to Israel.

Or Brooklyn.

Soon though, dishes like shaksuka (poached eggs in a simmering tomato sauce with vegetables and spices) and deep-fried matzo stuffed with cheese will be available in Westport.

On, ironically, Church Lane.

The Blondinit: coming soon. (Photo/Sal Liccione)

The Blondinit will fill the space vacated this winter by Manna Toast. It’s the first restaurant venture for Solomon and Inda Sade, who own several other businesses already. Her background is in retail and fashion.

But this is their passion project. They love food and entertaining. And they’re putting their money where their, um, mouths are: They’re funding it themselves.

While not Israeli, the Sades have strong ties there. Solomon’s parents were born in Israel. His father had 10 siblings, his mother, 8.

Growing up on Long Island, his family visited there every summer. More recently, he and his wife honeymooned in Israel.

When COVID struck, they and their 1-year-old left New York for their second home in the Poconos. But after 6 months of boredom — “the event of the day was standing outside Walmart with rubber gloves,” Solomon recalls — they moved to suburban New Jersey.

Solomon and Inda Sade, with their children.

Through a close friend, Inda found Westport. The couple fell in love with “the small town feel,” he says. “Main Street, the fact that everyone knows each other — it was exactly what we were looking for.”

They moved here in August — just in time to enjoy summertime pleasures like outdoor dining at Spotted Horse.

Soon after arriving, they began planning their Israeli restaurant. They were outbid on their first space.

Then realtor David Waldman showed them the recently vacated Manna Toast. They took it that day.

Despite a reliance on meats and salads, Israeli cuisine is not exactly the same as Middle Eastern, Mediterranean or Greek, Solomon notes.

Shakshuka features eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, with Israeli cheese and spices. It’s served with charred pita bread. 

Two examples: there is no pork. The seasonings are different.

And this: the Bulgarian cheese Israelis use is soaked in brine, rather than fresh water.

Grilled artichokes are served with a lemon garlic aioli dip.

“There’s the same base — falafels, hummus,” Solomon says. “But every culture executes their food differently.”

The Blondinit’s meats, pitas, pickled goods and beers will all be “authentic” from Brooklyn.

It will be delivered fresh daily. The Sades will not use freezers or microwaves. All leftover food will be donated to pantries and food rescue organizations.

Bourekas are a puff pastry, stuffed with Israeli cheese, meat or potatoes. They’re served with a dipping sauce.

Their restaurant will be a place of joy and community.

“We learned during COVID how important it is to celebrate,” Inda says. “We’ll have the vibe, with good food and good company.”

As the couple plan for their opening — working on architectural drawings, getting permits and a liquor license, doing everything else a new restaurant needs — they’ve been impressed by the people they meet.

“Everyone has been very, very helpful,” Solomon says.

“06880” will announce the opening.

In the meantime: What’s with the name?

“Blondinit means ‘female blonde’ in Hebrew,” Solomon explains.

“It’s named for my wife.”

(“06880” is your place for local restaurant news. To support our coverage — and everything else we do — please click here. Thank you!)

Final Meal For Manna Toast

Manna Toast — the Church Lane non-GMO, sustainable, artisanal, organic restaurant —just sent this note to their customers, partners, local farms and suppliers, and supporters:


Each and every one of you has been part of Manna Toast’s success.

While we have made the decision to close at the end of this year (December 30), we are proud of our accomplishments. In serving almost 30,000 customers, we’ve helped inspire a cultural shift towards plant-based eating.

We’ve educated so many about the value of supporting local food initiatives and importantly, lowering our collective impact on the environment by composting over 15,000 pounds of food waste, and consistently investing in compostable and recyclable packaging.

A Manna Toast meal at its May 2020 opening.

We started Manna Toast with a mission and purpose, a lot of which has been
accomplished. We provided well-paying jobs during one of the most economically challenging times in our history, and want to thank our loyal employees that have been with us since the beginning.

We especially want to thank the Westport community and the town of Westport’s wide range of departments (Health, Building, Planning & Zoning, Fire, Police, Board of Selectmen) who were so supportive of our new business launch and efforts to help revitalize downtown.

Manna Toast’s anniversary dinner, in 2021.

We’re closing because Manna’s operations were designed for rapid growth and with the intention of opening multiple cafes across Fairfield County. In the current labor market, in our segment of the restaurant industry and due to other priorities in our personal and business lives, we’ve chosen not to open further cafes and to not invest to scale the business.

We hope that others will go forward and build on the success we’ve had in
serving this wonderful community.

Please come enjoy your Manna favorites over the next 3 weeks, and let us thank you and end the year with health and happiness.

Roundup: Gilbertie’s 100th B’day Bash, Sports Rehab, High Honors …

Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center’s may be 100 years old. But they’re sure young at heart.

Tomorrow (Saturday, June 4, noon to 5 p.m.), the century-old Sylvan Road South shop/greenhouse hosts a town-wide party.

The highlight is a free concert with reggae artists Mystic Bowie’s Talking Dreads, plus Kalel Wale.

Surrounding the field will be family games and activities, food trucks, vendors and a petting zoo.

“It’s not every day a business turns 100,” says Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. “This is going to be quite the party.”

Bring lawn chairs for the show; park along Riverside Avenue, or at Kings Highway or Saugatuck Elementary School.


Staples High School’s High Honors Dinner is always one of the highlights of the year.

Held a couple of weeks before graduation, it’s a celebration of the diversity interests and achievements of the senior class.

Students with GPAs in the top 4% are invited. Each selects one teacher to introduce him or her. They speak for a minute; then the student gives thanks.

Educators last night came from the English, Social Studies, Science, World Language, Drama and Athletic Departments. They lauded their students’ intellectual curiosity, passion and drive, concern for classmates, and senses of humor.

Students, in turn, praised their teachers for their mentorship, accessibility at all hours of the day and night, passion and drive, unique styles, senses of humor, and friendship.

It was a warm, wonderful evening. It affirmed for many educators that “this is why I teach.” And for the parents and friends in the room, it was a fitting reminder that a Westport education takes place in many places, in many ways.

Students honored were Emma Alcyone, Natalie Bandura, Greg Beal, Zach Bishop, Michael Brody, Oliver Clachko, Sabrina Didner, Erin Durkin, Matt Genser, Sasha Maskoff, Aidan Mermagen, Gabriella Messenger, Tessa Moore, Luke Morelli, Chloe Nevas, Emma Nordberg, Talia Perkiins, Finn Popken, Ishan Prasad, Jessica Qi, Ally Schwartz and Julian Weng.

They selected educators Ann Neary, Dominick Messina, Robert Shamberg, Joe Barahona, Will Jones, Suzanne Kammerman, Meghan Scheck, Chi-Ann Lin, Noreen McGoldrick, Sam Goldberg, Chris Fray, Enia Noonan, David Roth, Bethann Camillo, Jack McFarland, David Scrofani andn Brendan Giolitto.

High Honors honoree Aidan Mermagen hears praise from chemistry teacher Will Jones.


Happy National Donut Day!

Donut Crazy is celebrating: Buy a drink, get a free donut.

If you’ve never been to the shop on the eastbound side of the Westport train station: go now!

And if you have been — you better hope your favorite “crazy” donut has not yet been gobbled up. (Hat tip: John Karrel)

Happy National Donut Day!


Westport’s newest sports rehab and physical therapy service opened this week in Westport.

HSS Sports Rehab — a collaboration between Stamford Health and the Hospital for Special Surgery — has taken over the old Boat Locker space, in the strip mall with Layla’s Falafel and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Therapists at HSS Sports Rehab – Westport treat patients of all ages and all levels of activity, “from weekend warriors to elite athletes.” They’re open weekdays by appointment only. Call 203-276-4763 for an appointment, or fax a physical therapy referral to 203-276-4764.

HSS Sports Rehab is at 1529 Post Road East.


Speaking of sports:

Two Staples High School teams are in the quarterfinals of their state tournaments. Both games are tomorrow (Saturday, June 4).

The baseball team — ranked #15 in LL (extra large schools) — upset #2 Amity-Woodbridge 8-2 Wednesday. Junior Hiro Wyatt’s grand slam was his third of the season — a school record. Next up: #10 Trumbull (2 p.m., away.)

The 14-2 Staples boys lacrosse team hosts Fairfield Ludlowe at 3 p.m.

Congratulations too to Jesse McCray. He’s just been named FCIAC Girls Outdoor Coach of the Year.

Staples boys lacrosse team.


Manna Toast recently introduced dinner service.

It’s so popular, they’re extending it to 4 evenings.

Dinner will be served Wednesday through Saturday, starting at 4 pm. Options include dine in, pickup or delivery.

A dinnertime welcome at Manna Toast.


Stuart Losen, a 57-year resident of Westport, psychologist, educator, ardent Democrat and passionate Giants football and Yankee baseball fan, died suddenly last week. He was 92.

He was raised in the Bronx, where he learned to run fast or box, “as the situation required,” his family says. He was a proud graduate of The Bronx High School of Science and City College, where he met his wife Joyce. They were married for nearly 70 years. 

His obituary reads: “Warm and loving, with an endearing and extremely humorous side, Stu loved to make his children and grandchildren laugh with his silly antics, embellished or made-up recollections (“Stu facts”) and unique expressions. However, he also displayed shark-like qualities when it came to shooting pool.

“Throughout his life Stu was passionate about drumming and singing.  As a young man he led the Mel Stuart Band as a Crosby-esque crooner. An avid storyteller, he told many tales about playing the Catskills, and Lake George. He was known for showing off his Gene Krupa paradiddles, recounting his lessons from Babatunde Olatunji and pulling out his Local 802 Musicians’ union card. He would sit in with bands at every opportunity, from calypso groups in the Caribbean to busking on the streets of Cambridge.”

He served in the army during and after the Korean War as a psychologist at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, where he worked with returning American servicemen who had undergone “brainwashing” as prisoners of war. He later earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Buffalo in 1959.

Among the earliest to bring psychological services to Connecticut public schools, beginning in 1960, he initiated and developed programs first as a clinical psychologist in North Haven and for the bulk of his public-school career as director of special services for the New Canaan schools.

Stu published numerous articles, co-authored 2 professional books and 2 memoirs, and frequently appeared as an expert witness. served as the president of the Connecticut Psychological Association. He was an adjunct professor at Yale University, Southern Connecticut State College and Fairfield University.

In his private practice in Westport Stu has helped countless individuals, couples and families. Many maintained contact for years, writing to him of their life successes.

Following his professional retirement, Stu taught courses on comparative religion at the Lifetime Learning Institute at Norwalk Community College and participated in the writer’s workshop at the Westport Senior Center. An activist at heart, Stu supported many liberal causes.

Stu is survived by his wife Joyce; daughter Laurie (Joseph) Hutcheson; son Daniel (Sarah Novogrodsky) Losen; grandchildren Anna and Molly Burgess. Ave and Meredith Hutcheson, Samuel and Leonard Losen; brother-in-law Mel Garskof; nieces Hillary Garskof Strome and Allison Garskof and grandniece, Jessica Strome.

A celebration of Stu’s life will be held in person and livestreamed at the Abraham L. Green and Son Funeral Home in Fairfield today (Friday, june 3, 2 p.m.).

Contributions can be made to the Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance, PO Box 200, White Horse Beach, MA 02381  or the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA, “UC Regents” to: UCLA Civil Rights Project, 8370 Math Sciences, Box 951521, Los Angeles, CA 90095.


You’re never too young — or old — to learn how to tie-dye.

For the 2nd summer in a row, 3 Staples students — soon-to-graduate seniors Theo Vergakis, Nick Prior and Jack Foster — offer interactive tie-dyeing sessions.

They supply 100% cotton t-shirts, a large selection of dyes, and all the tools.

You supply the group of 3 to 15 kids (or adults). The cost of $25 per person includes all materials.

Click here for more information. To book a session, email towneeus@gmail.com,

Leo and Stella Newman, in their own creations.


Westport is naturally green this time of year. But Mark Yurkiw captured an exceptionally verdant scene for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

He did not have to look far. It’s his Cross Highway home.

This is also one of the greenest (and coolest) home scenes we’ve ever seen!

(Photo/Mark Yurkiw)


And finally … Alan White, a drummer who worked with John Lennon and George Harrison before he was 21, then gained more fame for his long work with the band Yes, died last week near Seattle, after a brief illness. He was 72.

Click here for a full obituary.

Roundup: “06880” Blog Party, Popup Bagels, Manna Toast …

Save the date!

Thursday, July 21 is the day for our annual “06880” blog party.

It’s fun. It’s social. It’s chill.

Longtime resident or newcomer; old or young; frequent commenter or lurker — all are welcome.

Meet neighbors and strangers; politicians and normal people. Put faces to names you’ve only read about. And do it all at a place dear to every “06880” resident’s heart: Compo Beach’s South Beach, near the kayak launch.

Remember that date: July 21. See you there!

Food and fun at an “06880” bash.


Westperters have long known and loved Popup Bagels — well, at least since 2020, when our neighbor Adam Goldberg took advantage of COVID downtime, his love of baking and his creativity to come up with what some argue is the Best. Bagel. Ever.

Compact, crusty and generously coated with seeds, they draw raves wherever they’re sold. But they’re sold only in pop-up — that is, pickup — locations.

I may have been the first media outlet to write about Popup Bagels. Since then, he’s expanded to Redding and Greenwich.

And, occasionally, New York.

Traditionally hard-to-please bagel lovers there have embraced Adam’s creations.  So has Brooklyn BagelFest, where he won the People’s Choice award. It was a stunning victory for a Fairfield County upstart.

Now comes another prize: a writeup in the New York Times. Today’s Food section contains a mouth-watering review (and photos).

Click here for the full story. Click here for the website to order — but good luck with that.

You shoulda thought of it sooner. (Hat tip: Sharon Fiarman)

A few of Adam Goldberg’s many bagels. (Photo/Jen Goldberg)

Adam Goldberg with his Brooklyn Bagelfest award.


The closing of Church Lane to vehicles has brought excitement — and outdoor dining — to that small street downtown.

But with no dinner menu, Manna Toast could not capitalize on the fun.

Now they can. The restaurant — whose loyal customers love its plant-based, non-GMO, artisanal, organic, locally-sourced eat-in, takeout and delivery menu — has added “Manna at Night.”

Available at heated tables and indoors until 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (with more days to come soon), chef Jason Wiener offers shared plates (the roasted brussels with gingery soy and cashew coconut crunch is great), bowls (ditto the Thai curry), sliders and desserts, along with cocktails, wine and beer.

Manna Toast has rolled out the dinner options quietly, working out the kinks while maintaining the café and caterers’ high quality.

Now the word is out: Manna is much more than breakfast, lunch and toast.

(Manna Toast is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for more information.)

A dinnertime welcome at Manna Toast.


The last time I posted a story about a musician asking for help in the Stop & Shop parking lot, I learned it was a scam.

This one seems more legit. But I can’t vouch for sure.

Nn “06880” reader (and shopper) writes: “I came out of Stop & Shop, and heard the most beautiful music. This family moved here from Romania 6 months ago, and are living out of their car.

“They said they are connected with Family & Children’s Agency (their English was not great, so I think that is what he said). The father (playing/pictured here) was an electrician in Romania, but said he can/will do any kind of work. He learned to play music from his grandmother.”


Rockwell Dance Center in Trumbull got to know Charlie Capalbo through his cousin Harrison, who danced there.

Every year, RDC organizes a benefit concert. Charlie — the Fairfield Ludlowe High School graduate/hockey goalie, and grandson of Westporters Ina Chadwick and Richard Epstein — was battling cancer for the 4th time.

When RDC asked Charlie if they could do this year’s concert in his honor, he said yes — provided the proceeds went to 2 local pediatric cancer charities that helped him and his family. He chose Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, and LIVFREE.

Charlie died last week, a month before his 24th birthday. The concert — this Saturday (April 30, 7 p.m., Trumbull High School) — will celebrate his life.

The dance community and hockey community will come together for Charlie. The Fairfield Co-op, Fairfield Prep, Trumbull High and St. Joseph hockey teams will open the concert with a “stick tap for Charlie.”

The concert includes song and dance. Tickets are $20, and are available at the door (cash, check or Venmo), or through Venmo now (@theparkerproject).

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)


MoCA Westport’s Family Day will have something for everyone.

Even the world-famous Piglet.

The June 18 event (noon to 2 p.m.) features the blind, deaf pink puppy of that name. He’s  inspired a global movement for acceptance, inclusion, empathy and kindness. Veterinarian Melissa Shapiro — author and co-creator of “The Piglet Mindset” — will share his story, and talk about her new children’s book “Piglet Comes Home.”

The day also includes healing art activities, mural painting, music by Dustin Lowman, an ice cream truck, meet-and-greet with dogs from Westport Animal Shelter Advocates, homemade doggy treats from Earth Animal, and free admission to the exhibit of Westport student artwork. Click here for tickets.

Piglet at Compo Beach.


Starting Sunday (May 1,), stickers will be required to park at Westport beaches.

Part of the fee goes to beach maintenance. Crews were out in force yesterday, getting ready for the (hopefully) warm weather ahead.

(Photo/Pat Auber)

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

Meanwhile, progress continues on the jetty/groin project at Burying Hill Beach.

(Photo/Peter J. Swift)


The spring issue of Westport Magazine is out.

Author Jane Green graces the cover. Other features include dozens of ways to enjoy life, and a glowing review of Allium Eatery.


Three years ago, RTM member Andrew Colabella turned 30. He wrote about that turning point for “06880.”

Today he turns 33. Time marches on. Happy birthday to a good old guy.

Andrew Colabella


The Burying Hill osprey gets less press than its Fresh Market cousin.

But it too is majestic. It poses here, in all its “Westport … Naturally” splendor,

(Photo/John Prenderville Jr.)


And finally … Duke Ellington was born 123 years ago today. The jazz pianist, composer and bandleader died in 1974. But his music is eternal.




Officials Okay Outdoor Dining+

Two years ago, in the early days of the pandemic, indoor dining was banned. Restaurants grew desperate.

Moving with unprecedented speed, town officials okayed outdoor dining in areas like Church Lane and Railroad Place.

It was such a hit, they allowed it again last summer.

Now it’s back for a third year. And it will continue for at least 2 more after that.

Outdoor dining on Church Lane. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Last week, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 6-1 in favor of a text amendment that gives even more space to outdoor tables and chairs. The previous allotment was 25% of a restaurant’s indoor space. It’s now 75%.

Restaurants can also use a neighbor’s property, with permission.

The Board of Selectwomen gave their okay too. And rather than go through the process every year, they extended approval through 2024.

Maxx Crowley — president of the Westport Downtown Association — is thrilled.

“Church Lane is a key piece of downtown,” he says, referring to the short road that — closed to traffic — has turned into a street festival. Spotted Horse, Manna Toast and Pink Sumo serve al fresco; bands play, and everyone strolls.

Musicians play …

“There’s a real sense of community” when cars are banned, Crowley says. “There’s excitement and life, especially at night.”

And, Crowley notes, it’s not only restaurant owners who benefit. “People sit or walk, they see all the shops, and they want to go in and explore. Walkability is the key to retail.”

… and so do little kids. (Photo/Jordan Schur)

Church Lane’s closure will last through November 6.

Saugatuck — Westport’s “other” downtown — is another hot spot for outdoor dining. The Selectwomen approved the continued use of parking spots by Romanacci’s and Tarantino. Two nearby restaurants may also apply.

Outdoor dining is here to stay. It’s one of our town’s newest, and most popular, traditions.

Now all we need is the weather to enjoy it.

Romanacci’s outdoor dining, It’s since moved several yards east.

Roundup: Waste; Kendig & Colbert; Golf, Tennis & Basketball …


Don’t just talk the environmental talk. Walk it.

And learn how this Monday (July 26, 7 p.m., Wakeman Town Farm). A panel discussion on “Attainable Sustainable: Simple Steps to Reducing Wasteful Everyday Habits” will give you the tools you need to create meaningful change.

The even is moderated by State Senator Will Haskell. Participants include Peter Boyd (Yale School of the Environment), Haley Schulman (Food Rescue US), Brad Kerner (“public health expert turned low-waster”), and Andrew Colabella (Westport RTM and Environment Committee member).

Click here for tickets.


Westpor’s Emmy-nominated list keeps growing.

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” senior producer — and 2000 Staples High School graduate — Paige Kendig was part of the show’s nomination for “Outstanding Variety Talk Series,” while its live election special is up for an Emmy as “Outstanding Variety Special.”

Paige joins several other local nominees. Soon there will be a category for “American Town With Most Emmys.”

“Late Show with Stephen Colbert” senior producer Paige Kendig and the show’s star, as they interviewed President-Elect Joe Biden in December.


The Westport Police Department is good neighbors with their across-Jesup-Road friends, the Gillespie Center.

On July 31 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Stop & Shop), the department will hold a food drive for the Center, and its umbrella organization Homes with Hope.

Items needed include canned meats, tuna, salmon, Spam, pasta and sauces, chili, hot and cold cereal, canned fruit, canned and dry soups, peanut butter, jelly, mac & cheese, granola bars, pancake mix, syrup and mayonnaise


Congratulations to Manna Toast.

The popular Church Lane restaurant — which opened last year in the middle of the pandemic — hosted an outdoor dinner the other day, to celebrate its 1st birthday.

One of the guests is a very loyal customer: 118 visits!

Manna Toast’s anniversary dinner.


Connecticut’s Summer at the Museum program is great. Anyone 18 and under, plus an accompanying adult, visit participating museums free of charge through September 6.

Among those museums: MoCA Westport.

The summer exhibition, Élan Vital, features 11 artists working in a range of mediums, including painting, drawing, prints, sculpture, ceramics and site-specific installation work There are 2 other exhibits too: “Unfit for Print” and “Love Wins,” plus high school works in the Congressional Art Competition. Click here for details.


Foursomes are still available for the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s fundraising golf tournament on August 2 (Aspetuck Valley Country Club, Weston).

There’s lunch at 11 a.m.; a shotgun start at noon, and a cocktail reception, dinner and awards at 4:30.

The event includes hole-in-one and putting contests, a $20 pro shop credit, gifts, prizes, and beverages.

Click here to register. Questions? Call 203-226-8981 ext. 104, or email bmarazzi@westporty.org.


Speaking of sports: Congratulations to Tighe Brunetti of Staples High School. The rising senior — a member of the state champion Wreckers’ team — has been named USA Today’s state Boys  Tennis Player of the Year.

Tighe Brunetti


Speaking still of sports: Yesterday’s “Roundup” gave a shoutout to Marc Lasry. The Westport hedge fund billionaire is co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, new National Basketball Association champions.

The team may play 1,000 from here. But — as Google’s aerial view shows — his Greens Farms property includes a full-size basketball court.

With the slogan all of Wisconsin (and now the NBA) knows well: “Fear the Deer”!


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo proves there is life in even the most unlikely places.

(Photo/Diane Yormark)


And finally … happy 48th birthday to Rufus Wainwright!

Roundup: Board of Ed; RL Stine,Eversource, Manna Toast, More

The Board of Education meets tonight at 7 p.m. The Zoom meeting includes 2 important agenda items: superintendent of schools Tom Scarice’s recommendation for reopening, and proposed changes to the calendar.

The session will be livestreamed on westportps.org, and televised on Optimum channel 78 and Frontier channel 6021.

Avery Place — a main component of downtown — has finally been cleared of wires, limbs and debris. More than a week after Tropical Storm Isiais, power has been restored to the area.

But, as photographer Wendy Cusick notes, vines are killing trees here, and throughout Fairfield County. And when high winds roar in, they can help kill utility poles too.

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)

This will send goosebumps down the spines of many youngsters:

R.L. Stine — the bestselling horror story kids’ author — will be the final speaker in the Westport Library’s Camp Explore program.

The virtual (and free!) event — open to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection — is set for this Tuesday (August 18, 4 p.m.).

Click here to register for Stine’s appearance — and click here to watch all previous Camp Explore events.

In the aftermath of Eversource’s twin public relations disasters — a rate hike, and a belated response to Tropical Storm Isaias — State Senator Will Haskell says:

“Public utilities need to be monitored closely, and both legislators and members of the public have a role to play in holding Eversource accountable. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is holding a public hearing (via Zoom) on Monday (August 24, 10 a.m.),

“I encourage anyone interested to submit testimony and join me in standing up to this monopoly that too often lets customers down. This isn’t about one neighborhood left behind or the unpredictability of New England weather — this is about a company that makes billions in profits yet fails to prepare for a storm that announced itself days in advance of arriving in our backyard.

“To submit testimony, email comments to pura.information@ct.gov (mention Docket #20-01-01 in the subject line), or mail them to: Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051.

To attend or participate in the Zoom hearing, click this link.

Manna Toast has been open just a couple of weeks. But already they’re expanding their Church Lane hours — and adding music.

They’re open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to  9:30 p.m.  Entertainment this weekend includes Henry Jones (Friday, August 14, 6 to 9 p.m.), Suzanne Sheridan & Friends (Saturday, August 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.), and Wass (Melissa Wasserman, Sunday brunch, August 16, 12 to 2 p.m.).

Here’s a toast to a new Westport tradition!

Carole Bernstein did her civic duty on Tuesday: She voted in the state primary election.

Two days before, 3 cars — parked in her driveway — were broken into. She’s not alone. She’s seen plenty of Ring videos posted online, showing near-daily brazen break-ins. She’s read several warnings, by town and police officials, to never leave anything visible in your car.

So Carole was quite surprised to see several signs at the Bedford Middle School polling place, telling voters to “leave purses and backpacks in your locked vehicle.”

What’s the reason for the signs? What’s wrong with bringing a purse or backpack into the voting station (which is no longer even a booth — it’s open, for all to see).

Is it a COVID-related rule? If so, what’s the theory behind it? Even so, doesn’t it contradict everything we’re hearing about vehicle safety?

I vote for purses and backpacks in the polling place!

Two years ago — just 15 days after arriving at the University of Colorado — recent Staples High School graduate Corey Hausman died in a tragic skateboard accident on a steep campus pathway. He was unsuccessfully treated at a local medical facility. It was the 3rd college death of the new semester.

Since then, his family has been involved in College911.net. Among their projects: creating a medical emergency checklist with questions and suggestions his family wishes they had considered while sending Corey off to college.

Some of the items pertain to students (“Did you sign a HIPAA release providing a family member rights to access medical records? Do you carry a medical alert card or ID with emergency contacts, in case you lose your phone?”). Some are for parents, if 911 is called on behalf of a child (“What medical rights do you have if your child is over 18? What is the quality of the campus medical center?”).

Nanette hopes all students and parents will review the checklist, before the new school year begins. Click here to see.

Corey Hausman (center) with Lucas (left) and Casey (right): “The Brothers.”

Earlier this summer, Tony Award-winning Kelli O’Hara hosted a great virtual Westport Country Playhouse event, showcasing Fairfield County’s best young talent.

The Westport resident is back this Friday (August 14, 7 p.m.). It’s the capstone for THRIVE — Teens Having Resilience In a Virtual Environment. The online program for area high school students was created by Westport Country Playhouse, the Shubert Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre.

The 15 THRIVE participants — including Westporters Camille Foisie and Raia Morgan, and Weston’s Harrison Solomon — will share their experiences in the virtual summer camp. It’s part talk show, part variety show, and part cast party.

The “Friday Night THRIVE Live!” event is available on You Tube (WestportPlayhouse channel) and Facebook Live (Westport Country Playhouse).

Kelli O’Hara

And finally … yeah, Eversource. We’re talking about you:

Post-Isaias, Day 4: Fingers Crossed …

Last night, Eversource said:

  • Over 1,000 crews have been deployed, with “hundreds more” arriving.
  • A list of estimated restoration projects will be available today on the Eversource.com website.
  • Some customers may lose power as a necessary step for crews to make repairs safely for others.
  • Customers without power may have equipment damage, like meter boxes or the pipe and wire running from the meter box to the home. That damage may require an electrician or contractor to repair. Eversource will let customers know if such repairs are necessary,

6:15 a.m. today: Half of the dozen or so utility trucks parked near the police station, on Jesup Road. A few minutes later, crews began arriving. On we go! (Photo/Peter Nussbaum)

Meanwhile, yesterday the Department of Public Works led an effort — assisted by Eversource line crews and Knapp tree service — to clear and open a number of through roads and side streets. They include Sterling Drive, Buena Vista and Compo Hill; Minute Man Hill; Compo Parkway; South Compo at Narrow Rocks; Rocky Ridge Road (an enormous effort, and site of a visit by an entourage with Governor Ned Lamont, Senator Richard Blumenthal and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe; Stoneboat Rd,, and Quarter Mile Road.

Today they’ll work on Crooked Mike and the northwest corner of town, then the Sturges Highway neighborhood.

The goal is to open all remaining no access/dead end-type streets by sunset tonight.

Workers yesterday at Stoneboat Road. (Photo/C. Swan)

“06880” has learned — but cannot confirm — that one National Guard unit is headed to Westport today, lending physical (and moral) support. Another may be deployed to Weston.

Westporters are angry — and getting angrier — at Eversource.

But its workers are not its management. Utility crews — and those from mutual aid companies — are doing very dangerous work, for long hours (sometimes double shifts).

Here’s an important message from JD Dworkow:

“I spoke to some of them. They’re up here from South Carolina. Can we remind some of our fellow citizens to be nice to them? Offer them cold water and praise? Not complain?”


Wakeman Town Farm’s farm stand is open today, until 1 p.m. They say:

“It’s tomato time, with the season’s best variety of everyone’s favorite tomatoes, plus a rainbow of Farm flowers. Our farmer and volunteers have worked hard to bring you the best organic produce grown right here at 134 Cross Highway. Stop by for veggies, our own honey from Wakeman’s honeybees, and WTF logowear, including our popular masks, gaiters and WTF market totes.”

Manna Toast has a ton of food they’d prepared for the week.

“Hurricane Meal Boxes” can be ordered by 3 p.m., then picked up at their Hub Kitchen (across from the Post Road drive-thru Starbucks) between 4 and 5 p.m. today.

The menu includes toast boards, salads, soups, sides and desserts. Power outage tip: You can briefly grill your sourdough slices to achieve toasty goodness.

Call 203-628-4677 or email info@manntoast.com. Click here for the website.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado did strike Westport on Tuesday, as part of Isaias’ storm system.

Confirmation came in large part thanks to Scott Pecoriello. He’s the 2015 Staples High School graduate, now a full time meteorologist, who is as spot-on as any forecaster anywhere.

He tells “06880”:

“Tornado confirmed! EF1 with winds up to 105 mph. I had a conversation with the NWS in NY yesterday. They surveyed the damage remotely using a combo of radar, my video, and reports from EMS in Westport.

“Originally my company, Weather Optics (which specializes in impact forecasts for highly disruptive weather events like this one) knew the tornado threat was high, but I was still somehow shocked I was there at the exact location and exact time it formed.

“Another tidbit: This was the first time a tornado hit the state of Connecticut from a tropical system.”

Scott Pecoriello took this photo at Compo Beach on Tuesday, which the National Weather Service used to confirm a tornado.

“06880” has posted tons of Isaias-related photos (see above). Here’s a “greatest hits” video, courtesy of Cabry Lueker:

And yes, work continues around town. Two scenes from late yesterday, on Rocky Ridge Road:

(Photos/C. Swa )

Pics Of The Day #1202

Church Lane will be closed from Elm Street to the Post Road, through the end of August.

That gives pedestrians more room — and restaurants like Spotted Horse, Manna Toast and Amis the chance to put tables in the street.

To kick off the new look, the Busted Chops band played funk and soul tonight.

It was just the way developers envisioned the area to look, a few years ago.

Without, of course, the masks and hand sanitizers.

(Photos/Dan Woog)

COVID Roundup: Reopening; Friday Flowers; Ford Escort; Donut Crazy; More

As Westport reopens, it may be hard to figure out who’s in charge of what. First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

The Westport Weston Health District licenses restaurants and the beauty industry. So the WWHD leads compliance of those state rules.

Fire Marshal Nathaniel Gibbons will lead enforcement efforts for all non-WWHD regulated industries. Efforts include conducting spot checks, referrals and coordination with the WWHD and Police Department.

The police are responsible for tracking all complaints. They’ll investigate to ensure compliance, and work with business owners to correct infractions.

The Police Department requests that reports of non-compliance or complaints about business operations should be made by phone to the non-emergency number: 203-341-6000. For complaints made to the state, call 211.

If you see penguins not following proper protocols, call the police non-emergency number.  (Photo/Marcy Sansolo)

As life — and human beings — come back to Main Street, the Westport Garden Club is making sure everything looks lovely.

Yesterday they planted flowers downtown. The project is part of “Friday Flowers,” the club’s campaign to brighten spirits with colorful flowers. Four beds on both sides of Main Street will be maintained throughout the summer and fall.

From left: Kathy Oberman Tracy, Kelle Ruden and Kara Wong. (Photo: Topsy Siderowf)

Of all the COVID-caused changes in Westport, none is starker than the scene at the Saugatuck train station. Almost instantly, what had always been better-get-there-early-for-a-spot lots turned into ghost towns. All those coveted parking permits? They’re gathering dust, as thousands of commuters work from home.

But — if you’re one of the few people who has been there knows — there is one lonely car. A Ford Escort has been there since mid-March. It sure is practicing social distance.

Does anyone know the back story? If so, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)

Meanwhile, a few yards east, Donut Crazy opened. Commuter traffic is not yet back (duh). But Juliana and Anna (below) look like they never left. Except for the masks…

(Photo/John Karrel)

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the debut of Manna Toast. Molly Healey is opening a cafe in Bedford Square in mid-July. She’s great, and it will be wonderful.

In the meantime, beginning next Tuesday (May 26) she’s delivering family-style kits that serve 4. They include ready-to-toast sourdough bread with a choice of 2 toasts (meatless meatballs, hummus, burrata or roasted squash); 1 salad (kale with tahini miso or local greens), 1 soup (creamy carrot or 3-bean chili), and 1 tea. Everyone gets 4 chocolate chip cookies.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek. It’s fantastic — flavorful, creative, fresh; something new and welcome in the midst of so much COVID sameness. But don’t take my words for it. Check it out here:

It doesn’t feel like it, but this is a holiday weekend. We’ll miss the Memorial Day parade. The weather is a bit iffy.

But Compo Beach will be open. Not at full capacity, yet. There are no picnic tables or grills. Port-a-potties only, too.

Still, the scene today was like any other start-of-summer, late May day.

If only.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

And finally … there might be a more beautiful way to end the week. But I don’t know what it is.