Tag Archives: Pane e Bene

Roundup: Homes With Hope, Pane e Bene, Bridgewater …

For 40 years, Homes with Hope has provided emergency shelter, supportive housing, a community kitchen and food pantry to area residents.

It’s a national model for what a suburban organization can do, to help solve a national crisis.

Now the non-profit has taken another step. Homes with Hope is creating an Affordable Housing Advisory Council. They’ll advocate for, and participate in, developing affordable supportive housing initiatives, as part of the HwH mission to prevent and end homelessness.

The council will continue collaborating with local partners and town officials to increase efforts to add affordable housing here.

Lauren Soloff, a board member for 12 yeas, will chair the Council. It will consist of prominent Westporters including former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, former New Neighborhoods CEO Ross Burkhardt, Michelle Lapine McCabe and David McCarthy.

Homes with Hope board members on the Affordable Housing Advisory Council include Brian Baxendale, Jen Ferrante, Will Haskell, Becky Martin, Kate Weber and Ralph Yearwood,


This Sunday marks the last supper for Pane e Bene.

The Post Road East Italian restaurant opened 12 years ago. The property has been sold, and will be developed as The Clubhouse, a “simulator lounge” activity space with interactive experiences in golf, football, soccer, hockey, dodgeball and more; private rooms for birthday parties, corporate events, karaoke and big-screen game viewings, plus a bar with craft cocktails and a pub-bites menu.

Pane e Bene will reopen when a new location is found.

Pane e Bene restaurant.


September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Many Westporters — and Circle of Care, the non-profit that provides assistance to families who have a child with cancer — are taking note.

Gold ribbons — representing the color of childhood cancer awareness — can be seen all around town.

Families decorated Kings Highway Elementary School with the ribbons (and inspiring messages. Last Friday, staff and students wore gold, and donated dollar bills to build awareness.

Circle of Care provides practical, emotional, and financial support to children in treatment and their families. Since its founding in 2003 it has assisted over 3,200 families, providing over $5 million in services.

For more information, click here.

Honoring Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (from left): 2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, Circle of Care co-executive directors Liz Vega and Liz Salguero, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.


When Stauffer Chemical Company moved its international headquarters to the former Nyala Farm property at I-95 Exit 18 in 1970, it was a defining moment: Westport’s first big office property.

There was plenty of opposition. Thanks in large part to activism by the Greens Farms Association, safeguards were put in place to maintain much of the land as open space. Today — even though it’s home to Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund — it’s hardly noticeable.

But area residents have noticed a new addition recently: tents, and a large “slip and slide.”

Bridgewater’s slip and slide …

That’s not in keeping with the special permit negotiated by the Association, that the open space be maintained as “rolling meadowlands.”

Association officials are keeping an eye on the tents and slide — which may be temporary — as well as other, more permanent modifications to the meadow.

The special permit negotiated over 50 years ago is still in force.

… and tents. (Screenshots from video by Art Schoeller)


The East Coast Greenway — which runs from the Canadian border to Key West, and passes through Westport (primarily on Greens Farms Road) — got a shoutout this week in the New York Times.

In “These Human-Made Natural Wonders Hide in Plain Sight,” Peter Coy
examines the power of transformational and expansive trail networks. Click here for the full piece. Click here for a map. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)


This is crazy, but it seems true. WestportMoms posted on social media:

“Everyone’s age today is 2023.

“The whole world is the same age. It only happens one every 1,000 years. Add your age and your year of birth. For every person, it adds up to 2023.

“It’s so strange that even experts can’t explain it.”



Flowers (artificial) and a pumpkin (real) create a nice “Westport … (Semi-)Naturally” tableau at Burying Hill Beach.

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … in honor of the “2023” age/birthday phenomenon noted by WestportMoms (story above):

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New Clubhouse Comes To The Fore

Westport is awash in restaurants and retail.

We’re blessed with outdoor amenities like Compo Beach and Longshore.

But when it comes to indoor fun — family activities, evenings with friends, date nights — not so much.

No movies or bowling, like Norwalk. No golf simulators, like Fairfield and Stamford.

Well, not today.

But — if Emily and Tim Zobl get the approvals and permits they need — hopefully next year.

Tim and Emily Zobl.

The Westporters — she’s a 2012 Staples High School graduate and former University of Michigan field hockey player, now co-founder and president of a firm that invests in hospitality, food services, technology and multi-media publishing; he has an events planning background, and is a local realtor — go before the Planning & Zoning Commission July 10.

They’ll present a concept for The Clubhouse: a “golf simulator lounge” activity space with 6 state-of-the-art bays that have 13 interactive experiences in golf, football, soccer, hockey, dodgeball and more; private rooms for birthday parties, corporate events, karaoke and big-screen game viewings, plus a bar with craft cocktails and a pub-bites menu.

Phase 2 involves 10 homes. Two will be affordable, according to state formulas.

The site is 1608-1622 Post Road East. Redi-Cut Carpet & Rugs, with a long-term lease, will remain. The other tenants — including Pane e Bene restaurant — would move or close.

1620 Post Road East was built in 1946.

It’s a true Westport project. Emily was part of the team that saved the historic Old Mill Grocery & Deli last year, and serves on the Earthplace board. Both are experienced in the hospitality industry, and love golf.

Their goals are to offer fun, new activities that Westport lacks; improve a 1940s-era building, and add landscaping and screening; provide a bit of affordable housing — and save the property from a much larger 8-30g project, which has been proposed in the past.

The Zobls are now in the due diligence phase. The P&Z hearing next week includes a text and map amendment, and review of a general development plan.

If approved, the couple will continue with engineering and architecture plans, an application to the Architectural Review Board and more.

The Clubhouse will include not just golf simulators …

The Clubhouse would be part of a renaissance of the Post Road between Maple Avenue and Stop & Shop. Delamar has torn down the Westport Inn. It will be replaced by a boutique hotel.

Rick Redniss of the Redniss & Mead land use and engineering firm is working on both Delamar Westport, and The Clubhouse.

Just east of the Zobls’ project — at the former AJ’s Farm Stand — work proceeds on Tacombi, the first Connecticut location for the popular New York-based taqueria.

… but adaptations for football, baseball, soccer, hockey dodgeball and other sports. Participants will feel like they’re part of the action.

The acre of land behind The Clubhouse — Phase 2 of the Zobls’ project — has been zoned residential for decades.

The Lansdowne condominiums were built next door 4 decades ago, on the site of a former miniature golf course and driving range. The range became an unofficial dump. Though several proposals were made for the property behind the carpet store — including an intensive 8-30g project — nothing was ever built.

The Zobls have held several meetings with neighbors on George Street — behind the land — and nearby High Gate Road, along with the adjacent Lansdowne condos.

“We’re very sensitive to them,” Emily says. “We want to be an asset. We’re working with them to make this a success for everyone.

“We’re not developers from New York. This is our town. Tim will be on site, running the daily operation.

“He’ll oversee the simulators, the lounge, private events, karaoke — everything. This is a true local business.”

The architect is local too: Rick Hoag.

Though the couple is excited about the possibilities — for family fun, night life, and of course the housing component — they are not rushing things.

“We want to do this right,” Tim says.

It’s their Clubhouse. They look forward to welcoming the entire town to it.

PS: The Zobls first looked at 950 Post Road East — the former Men’s Wearhouse — for The Clubhouse. But there were parking issues, and it was too close to neighbors.

On July 10 — the same night the P&Z hears the text and map amendment requests from the Zobls — they’ll discuss  special permit and site plan application to permit a veterinary hospital/animal clinic at 950 Post Road East.

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Photo Challenge #401

Outdoor dining (COVID-style) came to Westport in 2020. It’s now a permanent, much-appreciated part of life here — perhaps the only good thing to come out of the pandemic (besides working at home).

But for several years before that, a wrought-iron table and 2 chairs has sat outside Pane e Bene restaurant, on the Post Road heading toward Southport. (Click here to see.)

Perhaps it’s a whimsical piece of art. Perhaps it’s subtle marketing. Perhaps it’s both.

But one thing is sure: Jeffrey Ruden, Michael Calise, Andrew Colabella, Mark Soboslai, Peter J. Swift, Mary Ann Batsell and Ron Henkin all knew exactly where to find last week’s Photo Challenge.


You may have to work a bit to figure out this week’s Photo Challenge. Then again, this is Labor Day weekend …

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

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Huge Restaurant Tip: Order Direct. Then Pick It Up!

When COVID struck, Westporters rushed to support their favorite restaurants.

Owners who already had an online ordering/takeout presence heated up their efforts. Those that did not quickly cooked one up.

The ability to pick up a meal curbside — or have one delivered to your home — helped many restaurants survive.

It’s easy to pick up an order at Jeera Thai, or have it delivered. But behind that convenience, there’s a surprising story.

But most customers have no idea how much the service costs those same restaurants they think they’re supporting.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce wants us to know that 3rd-party apps, and delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub, feast on restaurateurs’ bottom lines.

Those platforms charge fees up to 30% to the restaurant for delivery — and up to 25% for an order that, amazingly, a customer picks up herself.

Viva Zapata co-owner Bob O’Mahoney says, “those fees are our profit margins.”

Viva Zapata has been around for over 50 years. To survive the pandemic, it needs diners’ help.

The Chamber wants to help. They’re launching an initiative called “Order Direct — Pick It Up.”

The idea is simple: Use a restaurant’s own website or app to make a takeout order online. Or just call by phone, then pick it up.

“This simple adjustment will put those excessive fees back in the pocket of our local friends and businesspeople,” says Chamber director Matthew Mandell.

Restaurant owners understand that delivery is important to some people. Pane e Bene owner Angelo Capponi notes, “70% is better than 0%. But we also offer takeout, and we hope people will come to us. They can just call us up.”

It’s easy to have Uber Eats on your first smartphone screen, or speed dial. But it’s just a step or two more to Google a website, then click on your order. Or press “call.”

If you love a restaurant enough to support it with takeout, take those few seconds to cut out the 25 to 30% fee they toss away, as they toss your salad.

As the Chamber of Commerce says: Order Direct. Pick It Up!

(Graphic courtesy of Miggs Burroughs)

Photo Challenge #296

Last week’s two-fer Photo Challenge threw a few readers for a loop.

As the story said, “winners” (who get nothing except 15 minutes of Sunday afternoon glory) had to identify both photos — of plants and flowers hanging outside a couple of walls — correctly. (Click here to see.)

Most people identified the top photo as Pane e Bene, across from the Westport Inn. Fewer got the second one, another Italian restaurant in the other end of town: Tutti’s.

Congratulations to Rich Stein, Seth Braunstein, Amy Schneider and Claire Elliot for getting both images right. Buon appetito!

We’re back to one photo this week. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

Paying It Forward, One Dinner At A Time

Sure, Westport is filled with families with school-age children. They may not all have come from Manhattan or Brooklyn, though most did.

But they’re not the only Westporters. Many more people grew up here, stayed or returned, and still live here even after their own kids have grown.

Those folks remember another group of Westporters: the parents of the boys and girls they knew back then. Those men and women are now in their late 80s and 90s.

They too still live here. But many of their sons and daughters do not.

One 60-something resident looks up to that “Greatest Generation.” (And they earned the title not just for helping win World War II. After moving here, they poured their energy and talents into making Westport a great place for us to grow up in too.)

That man — who asked for anonymity — has taken it upon himself to invite some of those older Westporters out for dinner.

They often live alone. Most no longer drive.

He and his wife always pick them up. They head to Pane e Bene, Horizon, Rizzuto’s, Rive Bistro — nice, friendly places with good food.

They have a leisurely meal. They reminisce about old Westport, discuss current events (locally and around the globe). They talk about their own kids (who, in the case of the older folks, are the host’s contemporaries).

“I remember the first time I made enough money to take my parents out to dinner,” the man says.

“It was a rite of passage — and a not insignificant way to say ‘thanks’ at that young time in my career.” Both his parents have since died.

Now he enjoys spending quality time with his parents’ old friends and acquaintances.

“It’s so much fun. I’ve known these people all my life. They were the mentors of my youth.”

He adds, “They are as sharp as ever! And the battles we have over paying the bill are hilarious!”