Tag Archives: Mystic Market

COVID-19 Roundup: Westport Rocks, German Blues, Mystic Market, Meditation, STAR And More

Jen Greely and Lindsay Weiner rock!

In more ways than one. Their new project — Westport Rocks —  spreads joy all around town.

The women encourage everyone to paint rocks with colorful, encouraging messages — then leave them for others to find.

But that’s not all. To share the spirit, they’ve created “virtual gathering spaces” for everyone’s creations. Before leaving your rocks, take a photo. Then upload them to the website, Instagram and Facebook page.

It’s a community project — and one that entire families can enjoy. For more info, email westportctrocks@gmail.com.


On Sunday, I posted a wonderful video of 1970 Staples High School grad — and Seattle Opera star — Stephen Wall lifting up his neighbors with beautiful Italian opera.

Now Stephen sends along this clip of his former Smoke bandmate — and ’71 SHS alum — Jeffrey Dowd. He’s spent the last 40-plus years singing opera around the world, from his home base in Germany.

Here’s his important (and funny) message on social distancing. It’s a new spin on Fats Waller’s classic song. And no, Fats never sang opera.


The Gillespie Center needs 23 meals a day — but they no longer have access to the kitchen they use.

Fortunately, they’ve teamed up with Mystic Market. The great Saugatuck spot makes all the meals, each day. They’d love to donate them all — but unfortunately they can’t afford to.

Fortunately, with their new app and website, anyone can help. You can buy 1 meal for 1 person; all 23 meals for a day; all the meals for a week — even all the meals for a month.

Click here for the website. Choose “Takeout” as if you’re ordering; then scroll to the meal donation section.

To order via the app (easier): download the app, search for “Mystic Market Westport.” Just look for the “Meal Donation” button — the one with 2 hands holding a heart (below).


Among the many Westporters who have reached out to others in the pandemic: helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through STAR.

Chef Lisa Finn from Wakeman Town Farm, Yvonne O’Kane, Miggs Burroughs, MoCA and Zumba Westport YMCA all offer virtual classes via Zoom for STAR participants.

They — and the entire STAR staff — are grateful. For more information (including how to help), email jthompson@starct.org.

Miggs Burroughs teaches art by Zoom.


Dr. Allen Levy is a psychotherapist, clinical social worker and modern psychoanalyst. He has been in private practice since 1978, the last 20 years in Westport.

He has long offered free meditation classes in Bay Street office. Now he’s providing them, via Zoom, to the community (Fridays 12-1 p.m., Mondays 8-9 p.m.). They appeal to spiritually minded people, as well as professionally minded scientists.

Dr. Levy also offers psychotherapy sessions through Telehealth. For more information on his meditation classes and therapy sessions, click here.

Dr. Allen Levy


This time of year, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce usually gears up for big events. Now they’re busy rearranging them.

The May 31 Dog Festival has been pushed back to October 4.

The May Supper & Soul is canceled. The next one is set for November.

The annual First Citizen Award gala dinner will be held in the fall, instead of June.

All in-person networking events are being run virtually.  The first one is next  Thursday (April 16, 9 a.m.). Click here for details.

Slice of Saugatuck, meanwhile, is still on as of now. Save the date: Saturday, September 12.

For more Chamber information — including their list of restaurants and markets that are open for curbside and/or delivery — click here.


Around town, there seems to be some confusion over what “social distancing” means. Six feet apart should be pretty clear — even on an outdoor walk.

Need a photo? Mary Sikorski provides one. Just follow what these guys are doing on the Longshore golf course:


And finally, give it up for the awesome O’Jays as they offer both an inspirational message, and the greatest bell bottoms in the history of fashion:

Mystic Market: Meet Chef Ashley

Most soup/salad/sandwich/prepared food shops don’t have executive chefs.

Then again, most of those places are not Mystic Market.

The Saugatuck spot — in the former Blu Parrot/ Jasmine/Arrow restaurant building, opposite the railroad station parking lot — just hired someone new for that position.

Ashley Boucaud brings an intriguing resume to her new gig. She grew up in both Manhattan and Trinidad & Tobago. When she started her photojournalism major at New York University, she was not interested in cooking. It was “a chore,” she says.

But during college she began cooking for friends. Then she hosted dinner parties.

Ashley’s friends loved her food, and encouraged her to do more.

She did. After a chance meeting with a student at Johnson & Wales University, she applied to — and was accepted at — the famed culinary school.

Four years in Providence turned into 8. Ashley loved the city’s robust food scene, and worked at restaurants there like Amsterdam and Parkside.

Jobs at Stamford’s Westin Hotel and UBS came next. In 2005 she started a private business. Ashley spent the past 14 years catering dinners and private parties.

Recently, Cecily Gans — Ashley’s former Johnson & Wales roommate, now a highly respected culinary arts instructor at Staples High School — told her that Mystic Market needed a new executive chef.

Cecily Gans (left) and Ashley Boucaud.

Ashley realized quickly that the entire team shared her passion for food. And Mystic Market’s mission — “cooking for good people” — is exactly what she’d been doing all along.

As executive chef she creates menus, oversees the staff, and ensures quality.

Since beginning there, Ashley has brought a bit of her West Indian background to Westport. “Big on seasoning,” she added fresh herbs and spices to recipes. She introduced vegan dishes with a bit of curry. New soups like Korean beef have sold out.

She’s particularly proud of “Chef Ashley’s braised short ribs.”

“I’m happy to come to work,” she says. “The hours are long. But I love it here. We have an amazing staff, and a great team.”

Ashley Boucaud (4th from right), and her Mystic Market team. Westport general manager David Griswold Jr. is at far left.

Looking ahead, Ashley hopes to expand the catering menu.

She’s also impressed with the many nationalities she’s met in Westport. “This is a diverse town,” she says. “I learn a lot from everyone. I want to bring what I learn to Mystic Market.”

(Mystic Market is now open at 7 a.m. Hot foods have proven very popular.)

 

Saugatuck Slice Will Be Extra Nice

Saugatuck may not have any room to expand.

But the Slice of Saugatuck does.

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place — and everywhere else — Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

The 8th annual event — a popular food-tasting, shop-exploring, kids-romping, music-enjoying festival — pushes north and west this year.

This Saturday (September 7, 2 to 5 p.m.), the Slice includes newly opened  Mystic Market — the sandwich/salad/prepared foods/coffee mart on Charles Street — and the Goddard School, the daycare and childcare center on Saugatuck Avenue near Dunville’s (they’ll have a bouncy house).

They join more than 50 other businesses. All provide samples, and show off their merchandise or services (like Tae Kwan Do and dance). New this year too: boat rides, courtesy of Carefree Boat Club.

Firefighters at the Saugatuck station promote fire safety (and offer a seat in their very cool truck).

It’s a true community stroll. Kids love activities like an obstacle course, giant slide, balloon bender and Maker Faire area.

Adults appreciate 2 beer gardens (with wine as well), on Bridge Square and Railroad Place. Many restaurants offer specialty drinks (and hold happy hours after the Slice officially ends).

Saugatuck has always been about food. The Slice of Saugatuck festival is too.

People of all ages can hear bands like the 5 O’Clocks and School of Rock at 6 locations.

Music — not train horns and garbled announcements — fill the station air.

Tickets are $15 per adult (2 for $25). Children under 13 are $5; kids 5 and under go free. Admission (cash only) is available on site, starting at 1:50 p.m. Saturday.

Last year, the sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce donated $4,000 of the proceeds to the Gillespie Center’s food pantry. The total over 7 years is $28,500.

Any way you slice it, that’s a great gift.

Another Storm. Another Huge Tree Down.

This morning’s storm was nowhere near as intense as yesterday’s.

Or the one 2 weeks ago Monday. Or the one the day before that.

Nevertheless, it did some significant damage. A tree fell at Mystic Market. Two employees’ cars were heavily damaged.

(Photo/David Griswold)

No one was injured. But be careful.

It’s a jungle out there.

(Photo/Darcy Sledge)

(Photo/Darcy Sledge)

Library Cafe’s Mystic-al Tale

Westport Library officials anticipated a big crowd at their “transformation” opening last Sunday.

They just didn’t figure it would be so big.

After a brass band led hundreds into the new building at 11:15, they swarmed into the new space. People oohed and aahed over the Forum, the recording studio, the children’s section, art galleries and reading rooms.

And they lined up, 20 deep, for sandwiches, salads, baked goods and coffee in the new café.

By 1:30, the library had run out of food.

They called Mystic Market — their new partner. Barely half an hour later, the café was fully restocked.

Heli Stagg in the library cafe, with prepared food from Mystic Market, baked goods from Sono Baking Company, and the brand-new espresso machine.

Mystic Market’s popularity has grown steadily, since opening a couple of months ago in the old Blu Parrot/Jasmine/Arrow Charles Street site near the train station.

Now, library users far beyond Saugatuck are discovering the market’s magic too.

The new partnership “was meant to be,” says Heli Stagg, Westport Library retail and café manager.

As the library expanded, she’d searched for a new partner. Oscar’s was the first, when the small original café opened several years ago. After owner Lee Papageorge died, Gold’s took over. Both were “great,” Stagg says.

But with the transformation project nearly complete, the library wanted to offer more than basic salads and sandwiches.

Stagg had heard raves about Mystic Market’s prepared foods. When she met general manager David Griswold, the first thing he offered was a tour of their state-of-the-art kitchen.

David Griswold (center) and his Mystic Market team.

Stagg was impressed. Serendipitously, the market’s owners — Mystic-based Coastal Gourmet Group — were there for a meeting. She invited them to the still-under-construction library.

A few minutes in, they told her, “We have to do this.”

“Their food is excellent,” she says. “We want a high-end vendor. And we want them to succeed. This is a win for both of us.”

Mystic Market is not the only café partner. SoNo Baking Company is in its 4th year providing baked goods.

As with Mystic Market, Stagg had heard good things about the Norwalk-based firm. When she met the owners — and tasted their food — she was sold.

With both companies, Stagg says, “we’re doing exactly what the library likes to do everywhere: make connections. We want people to enjoy the café, and learn about businesses they might not know.”

Patrons enjoy the new Westport Library cafe inside …

The transformed library has made one more connection: with Food Rescue US.

That’s the innovate group that uses an app to match supermarkets, restaurants (and library cafēs!) having leftover food, with volunteers who can pick it up and deliver to shelters, kitchens and pantries.

Now — like Westport Library patrons — they too can enjoy the Mystic Market and SoNo Baking bounty.

… and out.

Mystic Market Meets The Community

I love writing stories that welcome new businesses to Westport.

They’re often about the owners: their backgrounds, what got them here, the challenges they’ve faced — that sort of thing.

I don’t usually profile store managers.

But I also don’t usually find a manager with a back story like Dave Griswold’s.

The man who runs Mystic Market — Saugatuck’s new kitchen/eatery that’s earning raves in the old Blu Parrot/Jasmine/Arrow space — grew up in a military family. He went to 10 schools, before graduating from a fine arts academy.

Then he trained in ballet, and did a conservator with the American Ballet Theatre. He danced with Alice Cooper, and at Madison Square Garden for the New York Liberty.

David Griswold: ballet dancer …

After that, came … the US Army.

Griswold was a diesel mechanic in Afghanistan and Kuwait. He was also in charge of morale-building, getting soldiers out of their barracks to mix and mingle. During the service he finished his degree in business management.

… and service member.

All of those experiences — arts, problem solving, team building — serve him well as he helps develop Westport’s next favorite spot.

Griswold moved to Saugatuck last March, as Mystic Market prepared its new space. He commuted to their Old Saybrook store for months. Finally — with the local store open — he can enjoy his new home town.

One of the things he likes best is the “thriving arts culture.” He wants Mystic Market to be part of it too.

They’re donating to the Artists Collective of Westport‘s May 4 studio tour. He bought 5 tickets for his team to the April 27 “Gatsby Return” party at Longshore’s Pearl restaurant.

David Griswold (center) and his Mystic Market team.

Mystic Market’s leadership team will also be out in force on Earth Day, cleaning up the neighborhood.

“We all want to be part of the community,” Griswold says. “We want to be hands-on, giving back just as much as we want people to discover us, and be here for us.”

He also wants Mystic Market to be “the first great job for teenagers.” There’s nothing better, he says, than for students to learn the values of work, in an open, inviting space like his.

Griswold doesn’t know it, but his store’s ancestor — the Arrow restaurant — did exactly that, for generations of long-ago kids.

The iconic spot in the heart of Saugatuck pulses with new, 21st-century life. Westporters — old and young, natives and newcomers alike — should be thrilled.

 

UPDATE: Make It Monday For Mystic Market

Earlier this afternoon, “06880” reported that Mystic Market’s final walk-through was scheduled for next Tuesday. The long-awaited Saugatuck store would open the next day.

But that final town approval was all that remained. Owners were ready. The staff was champing at the bit.

Town officials had first said they’d do that walk-through this week. Then they put it off until Tuesday.

Now it’s back on for this week. So, Mystic Market says, it looks like they’ll open at 10 a.m. Monday.

Just a bit of Westport — and Mystic — magic.

Mystic Market takes over the former Blu Parrot, Jasmine and Arrow property.

Mystic Market Opens Wednesday

When the Blu Parrot closed in 2013, Saugatuck lost a great venue for live music.

For more than 4 years, the Charles Street property — the gateway to Westport off I-95 Exit 17, and for decades the site of the beloved Arrow restaurant — sat vacant. Weeds grew near boarded-up windows.

Then Mystic Market announced they’d move in. Area residents — many of whom still mourn the loss of Peter’s Bridge Market — rejoiced. Those who knew of Mystic’s 3 other locations in eastern Connecticut were particularly pleased.

Mystic Market, on Charles Street.

Mystic Market touts “gourmet quality products, at marketplace prices.” They offer groceries, soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, grinders, a coffee bar, and a bakery serving breakfast goods, breads and desserts. Catering is also available.

That was November 2017. “A spring opening is planned,” “06880” cheerily reported.

Spring 2018 came and went. So did summer, fall and most of winter. Spring 2019 is exactly 28 days away.*

But good things are worth waiting for. Owner Charles Spathakis says they’ve passed their health inspection. They should get their certificate of occupancy on Tuesday. They’re shooting to open the next day.

Final work is being done now. The interior looks great. The state-of-the-art kitchen gleams. Staff is being trained.

The Saugatuck arrow definitely points in the right direction.

* Hallelujah!

Biscotti are ready for sale.

Progress Report: The Old Bertucci’s Site

Last August 1, I reported that work was proceeding s-l-o-w-l-y  — yes, that was the technical term I used — at the former Bertucci’s property, on the Post Road near the Sherwood Island connector.

Now it’s exactly 6 months later. It’s still not finished. But the end is in sight.

Ignazio’s Pizza will — as noted previously — occupy part of the former Bertucci’s floor. This will be the 2nd location for the thin-crust restaurant. The original is in DUMBO — it is literally down underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

An art and design firm will take up another part of that floor. That leaves about 2,100 square feet still available — which is why the “Building For Lease/Space Available” signs has Westporters wondering if Ignazio’s was just pie in the sky.

The view from the parking lot.

Not to worry. Steve Straus — of Fred Straus Inc., the Yonkers-based family real investment company — says that exterior work is done. When Ignazio’s finishes their interior work, they’ll open.

And, Straus says, there are “very good prospects” for the remaining first floor space.

Upstairs, there’s another 2,840 square feet of office space to rent.

Straus is proud of his company’s new landscaping, sidewalk, rain garden, facade, parking lot and lighting on the spot that many Westporters will long remember as Bertucci’s. (Older generations recall Tanglewoods. Real old-timers know it as the Clam Box.)

Straus says that the redevelopment of the property coincides with the construction of the office/retail/residential complex across the street, at the Post Road/Long Lots junction. He believes it will create a “village” environment in that part of town.

As for what’s going on clear across town, in the old Blu Parrot/Jasmine/Arrow property by the train station parking lot: Mystic Market announced they were moving in — back in November 2017.

When they’ll actually open is anyone’s guess.

Friday Flashback #107

Word on the street — Charles Street — is that Mystic Market opens next month.

Some folks will describe it as the old Blu Parrot spot. Others — with longer memories — will say it’s where Jasmine was.

But real old-timers know it — and will never forget — the site as the beloved Arrow restaurant.

For a couple of decades — after its move from the nearby Saugatuck Avenue/Franklin Street location that gave it its name — the Arrow defined the neighborhood.

And made its mark on all of Westport.

Here’s a look back, at the way we all were.

Owner Frank Nistico

Owner Tom Nistico, back in the day.

Lou Nistico, son of the founders of the Arrow.

FRIDAY FLASHBACK FUN FOLLOW-UP: Last week’s Friday Flashback featured a 1946 photo of Marie Corridon on the Longshore high diving board. 

It was a great shot (click here to see). Now comes word — via alert “06880” reader Chris Corridon — that Maria was not your casual, Sunday diver.

Turns out her family lived in Norwalk, and were members of Longshore. She learned to swim at the then-private club — and went on to win a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics in London!

Marie was the lead swimmer for the champion, Olympic record-setting US team in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

She is a member of the swimming Hall of Fame. Her 7 children all participated in Division I athletics. The girls all swam, and are active Masters swimming record holders. One — Sheila Stolarski — is a Weston resident. Several of her grandchildren swim competitively too, in high school and college.

Who knew? Thankfully, Chris Corridon does!