Tag Archives: Pearl at Longshore

It’s A Small Jazz World

John Stowell is a noted jazz guitarist.

He’s performed around the world — including, in 1983, the Soviet Union’s first public jazz performance in 40 years. Stowell has also been artist-in-residence at schools in Germany, Indonesia, Argentina, the US and Canada.

He recorded with Lionel Hampton. He appeared on BET Jazz Discovery. His “Through the Looking  Glass” LP was chosen as one of the Best Jazz Albums of the Decade by the Los Angeles Examiner.

John Stowell

Greg Wall — “The Jazz Rabbi,” and a world-renowned saxophonist — knew all of that when he asked Stowell to join him this Thursday (December 5), for 2 shows at Pearl at Longshore (6:30 and 8:15 p.m.).

One thing Wall did not know, though: Stowell is a 1968 graduate of Staples High School.

The connection came out as they chatted. Though Stowell — who now lives in Portland, Oregon — still has many friends in the area, and visits once or twice a year, he has not played here in at least 40 years.

Despite his pedigree, Stowell is not a product of the Westport schools’ famed music program. He came late to jazz — after Staples. He studied with, and was mentored by, John Mehegan and Linc Chamberland.

He left Fairfield County in 1974, for New York. Two years later, he headed to the West Coast.

Stowell looks forward to playing in Westport — and meeting Wall. They’ll be joined by 7-time Grammy-winning bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Rogerio Boccato.

Neither of whom — as far as we know — has a local connection. Besides, that is, bringing cool jazz music to a very cool venue.

Greg Wall, the Jazz Rabbi.

Batsh*t Bride Comes Home

First came “Groundhog Day.” Then “Independence Day.”

A new film takes place on April 1. It’s not called “April Fools Day” — the title is “Batsh*t Bride” — but the premise is clear.

Just before her wedding that day, a bride pranks her fiance by saying they should break up. Unfortunately, he feels the same way. Everything spirals out of control from there.

Jonathan Smith’s indie feature — starring Meghan Falcone as Heather — debuts August 26 at Stamford’s Avon Theatre. The venue is signifcant: “Batsh*t Bride” was filmed throughout Fairfield County.

Many scenes took place right here, including Christ & Holy Trinity Church and Longshore and Pearl restaurant. A number of Westporters had roles as extras.

The first scene the filmmakers shot was Heather’s failed wedding. Cinematographer Jason Merrin worked on it while in town for his own wedding.

A local blog posted the call for extras. Expecting only a handful of people, Smith planned his camera angles creatively. However, the Christ & Holy Trinity pews were packed.

Lights! Camera and action came later. (Photo/Ellen Bowen)

Many extras were then recruited for other background shots. One was even given a line.

The ballroom and hotel scenes were all shot at The Inn at Longshore. But the production was allowed in only on Monday through Wednesday, for 2 consecutive weeks.

Smith liked Longshore so much, he rewrote several sections to fit the grounds. He added in golf and kayak scenes.

Tickets to the premiere are $10. Chez Vous Bistro offers a $25 prix fixe 2-course dinner prior to the screening, while Flinders Lane Kitchen & Bar has happy hour drink prices and complimentary appetizers after the screening (with ticket stubs).

Email batshitbride@gmail.com for tickets and dinner reservations.

Finding A Pearl In Plastic Straw Debate

Pearl at Longshore has joined the movement to lessen the use of plastic straws.

The popular waterfront restaurant has gone a step beyond changing its practice, too. The other day Andrew Colabella — the RTM member who is introducing a townwide plastic straw ordinance — talked to the staff about the importance of the effort.

He described the negative effects of plastic on the human body, land and — particularly appropriately for Pearl’s location — water.

Andrew Colabella addresses the Pearl staff at everyone’s favorite spot: the patio.

“Pearl has always been committed to community and the environment,” the restaurant says.

Straws will no longer be offered with beverages unless asked for. All straws, stirrers and cocktail picks have been replaced with similar items in bamboo and paper.

Pearl understands that people suffering from Parkinson’s and other neurological and muscular disorders need plastic straws. They will still be available for those diners.

Restaurant owners hope that after Colabella’s presentation, their front-line employees — servers and bartenders — can raise awareness, answer questions and alleviate concerns of customers.

No more plastic straws at Pearl.

Zoe Brown Has A Job. Or 7.

Zoe Brown loved Staples High School.

Before graduating in 2015 she served as editor-in-chief of the school paper Inklings, and president of the Teen Awareness Group. She was on Student Assembly, in Student Ambassadors, and played field hockey.

She learned a lot about herself. She made friends who, she says, “have made me a better person.”

The University of Southern California was her dream school. She loved the journalism program, the “Trojan Family” spirit, the beautiful campus, the weather, football games, party scene, and the fact that it was different than any place she’d ever lived.

When she got there though, Zoe realized there were 2 things she did not love: its size, and how far it was from her home and family.

She felt she could not get as involved as she’d been at Staples. She lost her confidence and her passion. And, she says, “I lost myself.”

Zoe Brown

For those reasons — and issues involving mental health — she needed to take a step “to the left.” (That’s the name of her blog post by the same name. Click here for her very honest insights.)

In early August, Zoe chose to take care of herself and her body, by spending the upcoming semester at home.

But she knew she had to stay active. Which is how she now has 7 jobs.

You read that right. Zoe is working at 7 jobs.

First, she was hired as a hostess at Pearl at Longshore.

She then joined Two Oh Three — the zip code-named lifestyle brand — as a communications intern.

Zoe picked up some babysitting and tutoring work too.

Then she became a seasonal worker for Challah Connection, the kosher gift company.

Zoe Brown, at Challah Connection.

She also started helping jewelry designers Allison Daniel and Devon Woodhill.

That’s not all. Zoe is starting a greeting card/poster business with her best friend from Staples, Olivia Crosby — a graphic design student at the University of Connecticut.

Once Zoe finishes her USC classes from last semester, she’ll start tutoring with Freudingman & Billings.

No wonder her business cards say simply: “Zoe Brown — A li’l bit of everything.”

Each job is different. Pearl and babysitting are the most tiring. Pearl and Two Oh Three are the most fun.

But every job involves people. Zoe loves everyone she works with — everywhere –and has learned a lot from all.

She thinks she’s learned the most overall from being a hostess: about people and communication, especially.

Zoe plans to return to USC, and graduate in December 2019. Then — why not? — she’ll head to massage therapy school.

She’d like to work on a yacht or cruise ship, traveling for free before going back to Los Angeles to become a personal assistant to a producer, or work for a production company.

At the same time, she hopes to complete her own screenplays. She’s started one already.

Which means Zoe Brown is actually working 8 jobs right now.

I guess she’s too busy to count them all right.


Pearl’s Gem

Westporters are used to seeing art everywhere.

Thanks to WestPAC — the Westport Public Art Collections — we enjoy museum-quality pieces in our schools, Town Hall, even fire headquarters.

Murals by noted local artists hang in Patagonia and Banana Republic.

Now art while you eat is on the Pearl at Longshore menu.

Gallery@Pearl hangs in the handsome lobby space of the popular restaurant. Exhibits vary in media, and rotate every 10 to 12 weeks.

The works are the brainchild of Cathy Colgan. As an arts events producer for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — think the Fine Arts Festival and Art About Town — she developed a deep appreciation for the depth of talented artists in our community, and their desire to show their work in varied venues.

“Morning Glow” by Dale Najarian.

Pearl was happy to help. So far Nancy Landauer, Sholeh Janati, Janet Samuels and Elizabeth Marks have all exhibited.

This Tuesday (September 12, 5 to 7 p.m.), Pearl kicks off a show by talented painter Dale Najarian. She paints abstract landscapes of local scenes, like Compo Beach. All work is for sale, and will be up through November.

But Pearl is more than just a place to eat (and see art). Like many local businesses, it’s embedded in the community.

Several times a year, for instance, Pearl hosts the philanthropic group Women Who Care. Last week, while munching on complimentary food on the porch — a space usually filled with paying diners — members voted to award $10,000 to Fairfield County Hospice House.

Last weekend, Pearl was the site for a Summer Soiree. The sold-out fundraiser for Westport and Fairfield first responders raised more than $10,000.

The recipients — including Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas and Fire Chief Rob Yost — promptly decided to send the funds to their counterparts in Houston. Right now, they need it more than we do.

It was a feel good/do good moment for all.

And — despite the rain — the setting wasn’t too shabby either.

Paying It Forward At Pearl

The other day, Kelly Lavoie and her husband Rick celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary at Pearl.

The couple at the next table were celebrating their 13th anniversary — and the husband’s birthday.

All 4 shared a nice conversation, and best wishes. Then the younger couple said goodbye and left.

When Rick asked for the check, their server said the other couple had already paid it.

Kelly and Rick were speechless. Days later, they still can’t believe it.

Unfortunately, she says, they did not get the other couple’s names. They just know they’re from Rowayton.

“If for some reason they see this, we want to thank them,” Kelly says.

“It was such a wonderful surprise — the ultimate ‘paying it forward.’ We are amazed by your generosity!”

Kelly and Rick Lavoie

New Pearl Splashes Into Longshore

A pearl is a beautiful jewel.

Longshore is one of Westport’s crown jewels.

So it’s particularly fitting that Pearl is the name of Longshore’s new restaurant. And that oysters and clams figure prominently on the menu.

Pearl at Longshore — the full name — opens officially tomorrow (Monday, February 22). But a soft opening last night showed that — more than a year after Splash closed — Westport’s dining and social scene have taken an impressive step forward.

A new entrance for a new restaurant.

A new entrance for a new restaurant.

Last night — in the beautiful new dining room, next to the handsome bar, as the wait staff bustled around — lead owner Marc Backon and his wife Lois described the long journey that transformed rundown Splash into a gorgeous Pearl.

It was Halloween, 2014. Dining at Tarantino, they learned from then-general manager Antonio Ninivaggi that after 18 years, Splash had shut its doors (and the adjacent, once-quite-popular Patio Bar). They were saddened. They’d eaten there often, and both daughters’ 1st jobs were at Splash.

It was not an immediate “let’s do it!” moment. Yet gradually the Backons decided to give Westport back its waterfront gem.

They had no background in restaurants. But Marc has a long career in business, Lois is in banking — and they are smart, committed Westporters.

Slowly, they put together a group of 25 or so investors, mostly from here. The list also included Ninivaggi (who had moved on to Osianna in Fairfield). They hired a crack design team, led by Bilal Barakat, and renowned executive chef Michael Hazen (Bartaco, Barcelona).

The stunning bar is made from recycled glass. Behind it is recycled wood.

The stunning bar is made from recycled glass. Behind it is recycled wood.

The journey was tough. The building — including the kitchen and food storage areas — had deteriorated significantly. A couple of deadlines were missed.

But the wait was worth it. With seating for 55 inside, 70 outside and 18 at the bar; chic, contemporary decor that includes paintings by local artists and a display with Robin Tauck’s Sherwood Mill Pond books, plus a menu that ranges from locally raised oysters to boar, it’s bound to create Westport’s newest buzz.

Locally harvested Hummock Island oysters are a special treat.

Locally harvested Hummock Island oysters are a special treat.

The patio is not yet finished. That’s okay. It will be ready this summer.

Hey, it takes 3 to 7 years for an oyster to produce a perfect pearl.

This one is ready after just 1.

The town of Westport owns the Pearl at Longshore property, and rents it to operators. Among the diners at last night's soft opening were 2 town officials who helped oversee the renovation from Splash to Pearl were (far left) former Parks and Recreation chair Steve Haberstroh, and (right) 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

The town of Westport owns the Pearl at Longshore property, and rents it to operators. Among the diners at last night’s soft opening were 3 town officials who helped oversee the renovation from Splash to Pearl: (far left) Parks and Recreation chair Charlie Haberstroh, (near left) Parks and Rec director Jennifer Fava, and (right) 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

(Pearl at Longshore will be open 7 days a week starting tomorrow [Monday, February 22] for dinner only. Lunch — and a golfers’ menu — will be added later.)

In summer, the view of Long Island Sound will be spectacular. In winter, the Longshore Skating Rink shimmered in the background.

In summer, the view of Long Island Sound will be spectacular. Last night, the Longshore Skating Rink shimmered in the background.

Longshore Restaurant Reopens In February

Slow winters helped drive Splash — the long-running Longshore restaurant — out of business.

Pearl at Longshore — the new spot taking its place — hopes to do better. They’re even starting with a wintertime crowd.

Owners Marc Backon, Antonio Ninivaggi and their local investors announced this afternoon they’ll open in February.

The new Pearl of Longshore restaurant opens in February. Disregard this August view of Splash.

The new Pearl of Longshore restaurant opens in February. Disregard this August view of Splash.

They’ve spent months restoring the interior — and kitchen. Executive chef Michael Hazen will serve “sophisticated, seasonally inspired American cuisine” that focuses on “the simplicity and flavors of the ingredients.”

Pearl will offer traditional seafood dishes, grass-fed beef and seasonal produce, with organic, healthy and gluten-free selections. The bar includes craft and micro-brew beers. “Pearl in a Box” is the name of their takeout menu.

Designer Bilal Barakat has “captured the spirit and history of Longshore, and infused it with a rustic chic and cosmopolitan feel.”

Sounds like big changes are ahead for Longshore diners.

But the new owners were smart to leave one thing alone: the view.

Even in February, it’s spectacular.