Tag Archives: Pearl at Longshore

Photo Challenge #280

Once upon a time, there were weddings at Longshore.

Dozens of guests sat on folding chairs behind Pearl. Lovestruck couples exchanged vows, framed by Long Island Sound. The sun always shined.

That scene — without people, but evocative of those days — was last week’s Photo Challenge. Bobbie Herman, Stephen Pratt, Bill Kutik, Michael Calise, Cindy Zuckerbrod, Patti Brill, Antony Lantier, Cheryl Kritzer, Lynn Untermeyer Miller and Seth Braunstein all remembered the scene, captured nicely by photographer Leigh Gage. Click here to see.

This week’s Photo Challenge is colorful too. If you know where in Westport you’d see it, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Restaurant Curbside Service: The New Normal

Last week — aka “several lifetimes ago” — I got a press release from Pearl at Longshore. The restaurant had a new executive chef. That week, he’d introduce a new seasonal menu.

I don’t run press releases. But I knew that Pearl had recently renovated its interior and made other changes.

That made for a perfect “06880” story: the challenges facing a restaurant with a very good reputation, in a location that for many Westporters is out of sight most of the year.

I made plans to chat with owners Marc and Lois Backon on Saturday. By then — just a few days later — life had changed dramatically. But the Westport couple were upbeat about the future. Pearl was still poised to forge ahead. I got ready to write.

Pearl at Longshore’s dining room is now closed.

Two days after that, things changed even more dramatically.

With restaurants restricted to curbside takeout and delivery only, Pearl joined dozens of other Westport establishments in a new world order. I figured my story was as old as last week’s news.

Yesterday morning, a very generous reader offered to use her credit card for dinner for me at — what a coincidence! — Pearl.

It was an offer too good to pass up. I gratefully accepted.

I checked out the menu online. At 5 p.m., I called it in: thyme-roasted salmon, with a side of crispy brussels sprouts. They said it would be ready at 5:30.

I preferred 6:15. They were happy to accommodate that. I should just call when I got there.

At 6:15 sharp, I pulled into the nearly empty lot. I called.

Moments later, David Donnelly — one of the managers — opened the door. He came out. Wearing gloves, and keeping his distance, he set the bag down. (Technically, I guess that makes it “step-side,” not curbside.)

I drove home. I enjoyed the very tasty (and healthful) salmon and sprouts.

Salmon with baby beets and top, shaved asparagus, Mt. Shasta wild rice and dill champagne sauce; brussels sprouts with crispy chickpeas, tzatziki and smoked paprika.

Would I have enjoyed it much more inside, sharing one of Pearl’s new booths with friends, or outside in one of the comfy chairs they installed a couple of weeks ago?

Absolutely.

But that’s not a choice now. And if enough Westporters take advantage of takeout dining, there’s a much better chance that Pearl — and other restaurants all around town — will be here this summer, to welcome us back in.

(For a list of restaurants and markets serving curbside meals, and/or delivering, click here.)

Restaurants Take Drastic Steps; Savvy + Grace Closes Temporarily

First it was schools. Then the library, Town Hall and Y. Last night, it was the beaches and Compo playground.

Now, COVID-19 is rippling through our restaurants.

Yesterday, Bill Taibe closed his 3 restaurants — The Whelk, Kawa Ni and Jesup Hall — for in-house dining.

Takeout meals are available through curbside pick-up. If you can’t leave the house — or don’t want to — they’ll deliver. It may take some time how to do it, Taube says, “but we’ll figure it out. Everybody’s got to eat!

“We feel this is necessary in order to do our part to help stop the spread of this virus,” says the owner of 3 of Westport’s most popular dining spots.

“If there’s ever a time to tip, this is it,” he adds.

For the time being, the doors to The Whelk will be closed. (Photo courtesy of Our Town Crier)

While not closing, other restaurants are taking their own measures during the pandemic.

Pearl at Longshore — which recently hired a new chef, reworked the menu and remodeled the interior — has removed some tables, creating more distance between diners. They offer 10% off on takeout orders, and will bring it outside for pickup.

Pearl at Longshore has made changes….

In addition to also removing tables, offering curbside pick-up and delivery (within 3 miles), Rizzuto’s has removed items like flowers and salt and pepper shakers from all tables. They’re printing menus on lightweight paper for single use. too.

… and so has Rizzuto’s …

The Boathouse has added curbside pick-up, and will soon offer delivery.

… and the Boathouse, at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

They — and every other restaurant in town — have strengthened existing health policies, and implemented new ones, such as washing hands upon arrival at work; before and after serving or removing food and beverages; before resetting tables, and after every customer interaction, including credit card processing. They’ve also expanded and enhanced their cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Restaurants also encourage patrons to buy gift cards. They provide much-needed cash now — particularly for small, great places like Jeera Thai — and can be used whenever you feel comfortable going inside.

PS: It’s not just restaurants. Customers can call Calise’s Market (203-227-3257). They’ll put together hot foods, soups, sandwiches, cold cuts, homemade pizzas, drinks, snacks, milk, water, bread, eggs, butter, dry goods — whatever you want  — all for curbside service or delivery.

Sandra Calise-Cenatiempo reports they just stocked up on pasta, sauces and many canned goods. Tomorrow (Monday) they’ll start making dishes that can be frozen.

If you own a restaurant — or store — and would like “06880” readers to know what you’re doing, click “Comments” below.


But restaurants are not the only small businesses reeling from COVID-19.

Savvy + Grace — the great, locally own downtown unique gifts-and-more store — will close for a while. But only the doors.

Owner Annette Norton — Main Street’s biggest booster — says:

As a small business owner I have been grappling with how to handle this.

I am responsible for the rent, vendor bills, expenses, yet with all of the information I am collection, it pales in comparison with our community’s health. Therefore, I have decided to close until further notice.

I will be inside, alone, processing all of our new merchandise for spring. Which, by the way, allows me to offer curbside delivery and call-ins, or direct message me on Instagram for shipping: @savvyandgracewestport. You can also call the store: 203-221-0077.

My store has always been, and always will be, about putting my customers first. This too shall pass.

I just want to do what is responsible, given the information available. It has been my pleasure to serve this community, and I am committed to seeing this through.

See you soon. Stay healthy!

Savvy + Grace, a jewel on Main Street. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Live Jazz At Pearl Aids Scholarship Fund

Quietly — well, not that quietly; it’s music, after all — the Jazz Society of Fairfield County is making its mark.

The group’s mission is to ensure that “live, world class jazz music remains a key part of our area’s cultural life.”

But they do more than just play. Over the past few years the non-profit has raised funds to buy the famous Steinway piano from the historic Village Gate Jazz Club in New York; conducted workshops for area students; produced a benefit concert for Bridgeport’s Neighborhood Studios at the Bijou Theater, and established the Mickey Golomb Scholarship Fund, in honor of a former fan.

Now it’s time to toot their horn.

On Thursday, February 6, they’ll record live at Pearl at Longshore. All proceeds from CD sales, downloads and streaming will benefit the Golomb Scholarship.

The 6:30 and 8:15 p.m. sets feature an all-star cast: legendary pianist Andy LaVerne, 7-time Grammy-winning bassist Jay Anderson, fiery Mingus Big Band trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, first-call drummer Jason Tiemann, and famed “jazz rabbi” Greg Wall (saxes).

Greg Wall, the Jazz Rabbi.

Wall — who doubles doubles as the spiritual leader of Westport’s Beit Chaverim — says the “energy, enthusiasm and response” of the audience will make the CD soar.

This is Jazz FC’s first live recording. Wall is proud that the project combines 2 of the group’s important goals: supporting jazz in the area by featuring world-class artists, and supporting music education for the next generation.

(JazzFC is raising funds to help defray the costs of recording, so more money can go toward the scholarship. Click here for information, and to contribute. All donations are tax-deductible.)

Micky Golomb

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.

Batshit Bride

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