Two years ago, in the early days of the pandemic, indoor dining was banned. Restaurants grew desperate.
Moving with unprecedented speed, town officials okayed outdoor dining in areas like Church Lane and Railroad Place.
It was such a hit, they allowed it again last summer.
Now it’s back for a third year. And it will continue for at least 2 more after that.
Outdoor dining on Church Lane. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Last week, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 6-1 in favor of a text amendment that gives even more space to outdoor tables and chairs. The previous allotment was 25% of a restaurant’s indoor space. It’s now 75%.
Restaurants can also use a neighbor’s property, with permission.
The Board of Selectwomen gave their okay too. And rather than go through the process every year, they extended approval through 2024.
Maxx Crowley — president of the Westport Downtown Association — is thrilled.
“Church Lane is a key piece of downtown,” he says, referring to the short road that — closed to traffic — has turned into a street festival. Spotted Horse, Manna Toast and Pink Sumo serve al fresco; bands play, and everyone strolls.
Musicians play …
“There’s a real sense of community” when cars are banned, Crowley says. “There’s excitement and life, especially at night.”
And, Crowley notes, it’s not only restaurant owners who benefit. “People sit or walk, they see all the shops, and they want to go in and explore. Walkability is the key to retail.”
… and so do little kids. (Photo/Jordan Schur)
Church Lane’s closure will last through November 6.
Saugatuck — Westport’s “other” downtown — is another hot spot for outdoor dining. The Selectwomen approved the continued use of parking spots by Romanacci’s and Tarantino. Two nearby restaurants may also apply.
Outdoor dining is here to stay. It’s one of our town’s newest, and most popular, traditions.
Now all we need is the weather to enjoy it.
Romanacci’s outdoor dining, It’s since moved several yards east.
Aspetuck Land Trust is seeking a community engagement coordinator. This is a paid 11-month service position through TerraCorps — the conservation version of AmeriCorps.
The coordinator would inspire and educate homeowners about how to build biodiversity into their home landscapes and yards. This is a key goal of Aspetuck Land Trust’s Green Corridor Initiative: to save the planet, one conserved acre and one homeowner at a time.
Activities include creating hands-on classes at ALT’s innovative model native landscapes, helping organize th annual native plant sale, and implementing a local “native” garden tour to showcase homeowners who have taken steps to create biodiverse yards. Click here for the full job description.
Qualifications include at least a high school diploma or GED (ideally a 4-year degree). The coordinator should want a career in conservation, and be passionate about repairing our natural world. This is a great opportunity for a recent college graduate to gain valuable work experience with a land trust.
Several readers sent photos of last night’s gorgeous moonrise. (Tonight’s is the actual full moon. The “Strawberry Moon” — a signal to Native Americans to pick strawberries — will be the last “supermoon” of 2021, Betsy Pollak says.
“06880” readers sent in plenty of great photos. Among them:
So the turnout was great yesterday, when Romanacci Cafe celebrated its expansion on Railroad Place.
Romanacci Xpress — which opened 5 years ago — has moved into the old Commuter Coffee location next door. Owners Graziano and Maurizio Ricci created an inviting new restaurant, with full bar and outside seating.
Guests yesterday were treated to a nice feast, including fresh burrata and seasonal zucchini flowers.
Among the dignitaries in the photo below: Selectmen Jim Marpe, Jen Tooker and Melissa Kane; State Senator Will Haskell; State Representative Jonathan Steinberg; Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce executive director Matthew Mandell; members of the Chamber staff; the Ricci brothers, and their staff.
Staples High School graduate and volunteer firefighter Peter Zarges died peacefully at home last month. He was 74.
After graduating from Staples High School, he joined the US Navy. He served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk off the coast of Vietnam and North Korea during the Pueblo crisis.
Peter began his 40-year career with the various ATT companies in 1970. He started with Southern New England Telephone, and moved to Southwestern Bell.
His lifelong commitment to the fire service started at Coleytown Volunteer Engine Company #6. He continued with Klein Volunteer Fire Department. Throughout the years he served as lieutenant, captain, district chief and fire marshal. Peter was also an advisor to Exploring Post 31.
Peter is survived by his wife of 49 years, Janet; 2 children, Liz (Kelcey) Trotty and Robert (Corey) Zarges; grandchild Jace Trotty, brother and sister-in-law David and Debbie Zarges and many nieces and nephews.
In all the discussions about current politics, it’s easy to forget Newt Gingrich. But we would not be where we are today without the 1990s-era House Speaker.
Princeton historian and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer just wrote a new book: Burning Down The House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party.
On July 7 (7 p.m., Zoom) he’ll discuss Gingrich, American politics and more. The program is sponsored by the Westport Library and League of Women Voters. Bruce McGuirk, leader of the Library’s Pages Through the Ages history discussion group, leads the conversation.
Westport Country Playhouse presents a virtual symposium, in conjunction with the on-demand staging of the new comedy “Tiny House.”
The free Symposium features playwright Michael Gotch an WCP associate artistic director David Kennedy. will be on the Playhouse’s website from June 30 through July 18. They’ll hat about the themes of utopia and apocalypse, political polarization, downsizing, escaping urban life, and fresh starts — plus the challenges of producing a play virtually.
In “Tiny House,” fireworks fly when family, friends, and quirky neighbors come together for a Fourth of July barbecue at the off-the-grid, isolated mountain paradise of a young, urban couple. “Tiny House” streams on demand from June 29 through July 18. A one-night, in-person screening at the Playhouse is set for Tuesday (June 29, 7 p.m.). Click here for more information.
And finally … yesterday, “06880” saluted Banff, Canada’s first national park. Today we note the 141st anniversary of the first performance of “O Canada.” One hundred years later, it became the country’s official national anthem.
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