Tag Archives: National Hall

Meatball Shop Serving EMS Fundraiser On Saturday

The sign promised The Meatball Shop would open this spring.

They’ll miss by a day.

But what a great “soft” opening the 8th restaurant in the New York-based chain promises.

The shop — which replaces The ‘Port in National Hall, on the banks of the Saugatuck River — hosts a preview party this Saturday (June 22, 5:30 to 8 p.m.).

Guests will enjoy a tasting menu of (duh) meatballs, plus seasonal dishes, wine and beer.

A meal to look forward to.

The Meatball Shop is certainly getting involved in the community. 100% of all ticket purchases go directly to the Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services team.

The Judy Michaelis Group is organizing the event, with sponsorship from Hightower RDM Financial Group (across Wilton Road, in the Wright Street building).

The official opening is a few days later. If you can’t wait — and/or if you want to support Westport’s great EMS program — click here for tickets.

Ay, Caramba!

There’s a big parking deck directly opposite the Bartaco parking lot on Wilton Road.

You can see it right there, in the background of this photo.

(Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

You can also see that there is plenty of room. There is one car on the upper level.

But that did not stop this Range Rover driver. Or rather, he did stop in the parking lot — not the deck.

There he is, right next to the “Reserved Parking” sign.

And yes, that’s a parking job. He is not driving. He did not just drop off a passenger. He has not pulled over to text.

He stopped. He parked. He got out.

Or she.

And it isn’t even a decent parking job in the middle of the entrance! Look how far the driver is from the curb!

I need a margarita.

Meatball Shop Update: ImPortant News

Earlier today, “06880” reported that the Meatball Shop will open its 8th restaurant this spring in Westport.

The location has just been confirmed. They’ll be serving ‘balls in what was, most recently, The ‘Port. The family-style restaurant closed last June.

National Hall, when The ‘Port restaurant was there … (Photo/Dave Dellinger)

National Hall has seen a lot, since it was built in the early 1800s. It’s housed the Westporter Herald newspaper, Horace Staples’ bank (and, very briefly, the first classes of his high school).

It was the site of the town meeting hall, and — for many years — Fairfield Furniture.

In the early 1990s, Arthur Tauck saved the historic building from the wrecking ball. (After decades of pigeon droppings, the roof was ready to cave in.)

… and back in the day. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

He and his family converted National Hall into an inn and restaurant of the same name. Several other restaurants later occupied that prime ground floor space.

Now it’s ready for its next phase.

Arlo Guthrie once sang, “You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant.”

You can only get meatballs (of many kinds, for sure) at the Meatball Shop.

But — with Arezzo, OKO and Bartaco all just steps away, and David Waldman’s new project at the old Save the Children headquarters moving quickly along — the west bank of the Saugatuck River just got a little spicier.

National Hall: The view from Post Road West, even further back in the day.

Women Cancer Survivors: Get Pampered!

Westporters who have battled cancer are lucky to have the support of friends and family.

Now they’ve got local businesses behind them too.

Upper Deck Fitness and National Hall are sponsoring a special Women’s Wellness and Survivor Day next Saturday (October 20, 9:30 a.m.).

The event honors the strength of women who have overcome cancer, by treating them (and their friends and families) to a morning of nourishment.

Participants will enjoy a gentle outdoor workout on the Saugatuck River, followed by a communal brunch courtesy of Bartaco, OKO, Winfield Deli, Amis Trattoria, New Wave Seafood and Rye Ridge Deli.

Pampering is provided by Whip Salon, Beautycounter and the massage therapists of Upper Deck Fitness.

Lululemon, Athleta and others are contributing raffle prizes.

National Hall and Upper Deck Fitness.

Guest speakers include Maureen Lutz, who has written about surviving breast cancer and founded the non-profit Necessities Bags, and Upper Deck CEO Suzanne Vita Palazzo, who founded the Badass and Beautiful blog.

The event is free, but RSVPs are requested. Email spalazzo@upperdeckfitness.com. Questions? Call 203-309-6231.

Pic Of The Day #541

Flags frame National Hall (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

When You’ve Got It …

Parking is at a premium near National Hall.

Of the few spots, many are reserved by tenants in that building, and adjacent ones.

So it’s not as if this driver is taking up a space that’s available to us normal Westporters.

He’s just taking it from a co-worker.

Or — more likely, since Paganis start at $1.4 million — an employee.

PS: Let’s hope the owner checked the weather forecast before heading in to work.

Pic Of The Day #398

National Hall, and the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Pics Of The Day #352

The ‘Port restaurant, and National Hall

Vigilant Firehouse, soon to be Oko restaurant

West bank of the Saugatuck River (Photos/Dave Dellinger)

Friday Flashback #61

Westporters have watched with interest as renovations begin on 1 Wilton Road.

That’s the quaint little building squatting underneath the massive Wright Street office project.

Today it’s one of the many frustrating reasons for back-ups at the Post Road West/Riverside Avenue intersection. Plans to move the building to create a turning lane have been rejected (perhaps to rise again, in the future).

Once upon a time, that section of town was less chaotic. Back in the day, a man could stroll down the middle of State Street — past a still-familiar streetscape that includes National Hall (now The ‘Port restaurant).

But I’m sure turn-of-the-20th-century Westporters found plenty to complain about.

Look at that mud! Those rocks, and the wagon ruts!

And I know some folks thought that watering trough didn’t need to be smack in the center of the road.

Arrivederci, Vespa. Welcome, The ‘Port.

In its 2 1/2 years in Westport, Vespa earned the loyalty of many customers.

Unfortunately, they came almost entirely on Friday and Saturday nights.

Owner Bobby Werhane thought there was a demand for “a New York style, modern rustic restaurant” in that location.

There was. But attracting diners on more casual weekdays was tough. Though the 155 seats inside were filled — and in summer, the 60-seat patio was packed — the size of National Hall, plus the difficulty of scheduling employees for both peak and slow times, led to what Werhane admits was “inconsistency.”

“The Cottage and the Whelk are small enough to do well consistently,” he says. “They’ve got a small, constant staff, and a tight menu. Their expenses are manageable. It was a lot tougher for us.”

The Inn at National Hall. Vespa most recently occupied the ground floor.

One of the things he enjoyed most about  Vespa was establishing strong relationships with guests. One was Sal Augeri.

A 14-year Westporter with 2 kids, Augeri — a Wall Street guy — was thinking about the next phase of his life. He’d always been interested in restaurants; he was involved in his town, so …

… welcome to the new spot that’s taking Vespa’s place. It’s called …

… The ‘Port.

It aims to fill a niche that Augeri believew is lacking in Westport’s restaurant scene: an “approachable, authentic experience.” He calls it “a place to go after your kids’ practice, or for a quick bite with friends. But a place that also has a definite local flavor.”

The ‘Port — our town’s sometime nickname — hopes to convey a real Westport vibe. Vespa’s white walls and beautiful surfaces will remain; some banquettes and communal spaces will be added, and “Westport stuff” put on the walls. Soon, the owners hope, the iconic building will be filled with people, 7 days a week.

“Owners” is exactly the right word. Augeri’s company — SMA Hospitality — is the majority owner and operating partner. Twenty-three investors have joined the 10 original Vespa backers. That’s 33 families, all with young kids and town ties.

Local designers Alli DiVincenzo and Michele Cosentino teamed up with Westport architect Lucien Vita of the Vita Design Group to brand and design the interior of The ‘Port.

The restaurant will also hire Staples students as busboys. (The last place that did that may have been the Arrow.)

The ‘Port will be “family friendly.” Augeri says that means “simple, basic, good food that people want”: an excellent burger. The “Port Club” signature chicken sandwich. Fish, pastas, fresh salads, great wings.

Milk and fresh lemonade for children — drinks that are healthier than most restaurants’ sodas and juice boxes.

Dessert includes homemade brownies and Chipwiches. “I don’t need tiramisu,” Augeri laughs.

Chef Justin Kaplan last worked in Lake Tahoe. This will be the 7th restaurant he’s opened.

He looks forward to “rustic, home-style cooking done right. We’re designing this menu for our guests — not the chefs’ egos.”

Chef Justin Kaplan (left) and operating partner Sal Augeri. (Photo/Allyson Monson)

“Family friendly” means the owners hope The ‘Port will be the place that Staples Players and middle school actors go to celebrate after shows. What about the diner — the current favorite spot? “We’ll do special events for the cast,” Augeri promises.

He will also provide discounts for veterans, police officers and firefighters, along with special post-Back to School Night promotions. Augeri adds, “teachers will be glad we’re there. A lot of times they’re looking for a 4-to-6 p.m. spot.”

A couple of TVs will draw guests for big events, like the NCAA Final Four, US Open tennis or a Champions League championship. But — although he’s deeply involved in the Westport PAL, and he hopes teams will gather there after big wins — Augeri claims, “this is not a sports bar. It’s a restaurant with TVs.”

The projected opening date is a month from now. See you at The ‘Port.