Tag Archives: Rothbard Ale + Larder

Willkommen, Westoberfest

For a decade, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association sponsored Blues, Views & BBQ.

This year, after the Labor Day weekend music and food festival evolved into a regional event — drawing visitors from as far as New York, but who seldom ventured beyond the Levitt Pavilion and Imperial Avenue venues — the WDMA handed it off to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

That left a hole in the downtown group’s calendar. They wanted something new — but Main Street oriented.

Welcome, Westoberfest! It’s set for next Saturday (October 13), from 1 to 5 p.m.

Like Oktoberfests everywhere, this one features beer, food, music and more. Over 18 local and regional breweries will offer seasonal craft beers in the Elm Street parking lot. Merchants will walk around, handing out coupons and free items.

Rothbard Ale + Larder and Kawa Ni will serve special cuisines. Amber Anchor plays; kids can enjoy face painting, and the Westport Artists Collective, Historical Society, Library, Wakeman Town Farm and Earthplace will all participate too.

Also on tap: a pop-up artisan market courtesy of the Westport Farmers’ Market, and a classic car rally and exhibition through the Small Car Company of Westport.

It’s all free (except for the beer tasting). Those tickets ($35 for single, $60 for a pair, in advance online only, and a pack of 10 for $280, in advance online only) are available here.

If you think a lot goes on in Westport next weekend, you’re right. There’s also Saugatuck StoryFest at the library, Jesup Green and other sites.

This is one time no one will sing the downtown blues.

Pic Of The Day #519

Downtown dining: Jesup Hall …

… Rothbard Ale + Larder …

… Amis Trattoria …

… and Pink Sumo (Photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

Pics Of The Day #503

Dining al fresco last night, at Rothbard Ale + Larder …

… and Amis, across the Post Road in Bedford Square. (Photos/Doris Ghitelman)

“Supper And Soul” Returns Soon

It’s not New Orleans, where music follows you from restaurants and clubs all the way down the street.

And it’s not Italy, where strolling musicians entertain you as you dine.

But every couple of months, Westport comes close.

That’s when the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce sponsors the unique 3-part “Supper and Soul” series. A $75 ticket covers a 3-course meal at one of 5 downtown restaurants; a concert at Seabury Center, and happy hour pricing for post-concert drinks at any of those 5 places.

The first “Supper and Soul” took place in January. It was a cold night, but the enthusiastic crowd was warmed by the concept, the restaurant hosts and the music.

The next “Supper and Soul” is Saturday, April 28. The headliner is Vanessa Collier, a blues performer known for her charm, passion, soulful voice and searing sax solos.

For the past year Vanessa has toured Europe as a featured artist with Ruf’s Blues Caravan, and North America with her 5-piece band.

The 5 restaurants are 190 Main, Amis, Rothbard Ale + Larder, Spotted Horse and Tavern on Main. Each is an easy walk from Seabury Center.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. The concert follows at 8.

Tickets are bought online through the Chamber; reservations follow, on a first-come, first-served basis (also through the Chamber). Drinks and tips are not included in the ticket price.

For tickets and more information, click here.

Friday Flashback #75

We’ve lost many handsome buildings in Westport.

Some are gone because of neglect. Others outlived their usefulness. Still more were torn down because they were in the way of something newer, different or “better.”

For years, a handsome building stood at 50 Jesup Road. It was once a private residence. Later, it became the Open Door Inn:

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

It was demolished in the 1950s. The town had outgrown its police headquarters — in the basement of what was then Town Hall. Today the building houses 2 restaurants: Jesup Hall and, below, Rothbard Ale + Larder.

If you close your eyes, you can almost imagine the cops who worked there — and prisoners in the lockup, staring through bars at the alley outside.

Pic Of The Day #160

Rothbard Ale + Larder Oktoberfest. (Photo/Joyce Joiner)

Pic Of The Day #28

Old Town Hall on the Post Road — now Jesup Hall and Rothbard + Larder restaurants. (Photo copyright Katherine Bruan)

Jesup Hall Reinvigorates Downtown Dining

Westport’s dining scene takes another giant step forward next week.

And it does so with a gentle nod to the past.

Jesup Hall opens Tuesday, in the old Town Hall.

If you don’t know where that is: It’s the building with one restaurant already: Rothbard Ale + Larder.

And if you don’t know where that is — it’s the building next to Restoration Hardware. Opposite Patagonia.

The facade still says

The facade still says “Town Hall” (sort of). Starting next week though, 90 Post Road East will be known as Jesup Hall.

Though it served as Town Hall (and, for many years, police headquarters) from its construction in 1907 through the 1970s, the Revivalist structure with a stone facade is often ignored.

Now — thanks to talented restaurateur Bill Taibe — it will once again be smack in the middle of downtown action.

Taibe — who owned Le Farm in Colonial Green, then opened The Whelk and Kawa Ni in Saugatuck — had been eyeing the Charles Street property that most recently housed the Blu Parrot (before that, Jasmine and the Arrow).

But the deal did not work. When he heard the historic town hall was available, he knew it was perfect.

“It’s got great bones,” Taibe said last night, at a preview opening. “It’s in downtown Westport. With Bedford Square opening up across the street, there’s a lot going on here. This is a fantastic place to be.”

Interior designer Kate Hauser — who worked with Taibe on the Whelk and Kawa Ni — has created a warm, welcoming environment in a very interesting space. With a long bar on one side, communal tables in the middle, and smaller tables (including a circular one) on the other side, Taibe envisions Jesup Hall as an all-day destination. He’ll serve lunch and dinner, plus — a first for him — Sunday brunch.

Owner Bill Taibe, at a corner table. Patagonia can be seen through the windows, across the Post Road.

Owner Bill Taibe, at a corner table. Patagonia can be seen through the windows, across the Post Road.

Chef Dan Sabia — most recently at the Bedford Post Inn, who has worked with Mario Batali and Jean-Georges Vongerichten — specializes in large cuts of meat, and loves vegetables. The fennel, kale salad, cauliflower and lamb served last night were especially noteworthy.

As with all of Taibe’s restaurants, local sourcing is important. “It will be seasonal, honest food,” Taibe says.

Taibe opened his first Westport restaurant — Le Farm — 7 years ago. “I really feel part of the town,” he says. “I adore it. It’s been so good to me.”

He felt a responsibility to the building, he says. But calling his new restaurant Town Hall — as some people suggested — did not feel right. Then he thought about nearby Jesup Green. He researched the family. So Jesup Hall it was.

One of the communal tables at Jesup Hall. Last night, it was used for a buffet dinner.

One of the communal tables at Jesup Hall.

Taibe makes sure all his employees know where they are — and who Morris Jesup was. He’s the grandson of Ebenezer Jesup, who owned the property we now call Jesup Green (and a nearby wharf). Morris funded the Westport Library (its original location, on the corner of the Post Road and Main Street, was dedicated in 1908, just a couple of months after he died).

He also helped found the Young Men’s Christian Association — the national Y organization — and was a major contributor to the Arctic expeditions of Robert Peary, the Tuskegee Institute and the American Museum of Natural History (which he also served as president).

The space has some challenges. There are two entrances — but one is set back from the Post Road; the other is in back, off the parking lot.

That’s fine. In the summer, the front patio will be filled with tables, making for a lively outdoor scene.

Jesup Hall may even share some outdoor space with Rothbard. “I love those guys,” Taibe says, of the downstairs restaurant, which serves Central European and German fare. “They’ve been so supportive the entire time we were building our space.”

Other downtown restaurant announcements are coming soon. But right now, the 2 words to keep in mind are: Jesup Hall.

(Hat tip: Dorothy Curran)

New Downtown Slowly Takes Shape

To some holiday shoppers, the ongoing construction in downtown Westport is a nuisance.

To JP Vellotti, it’s evidence of good times to come.

Yesterday, the alert “06880” reader snapped a few shots on both sides of the Post Road, near Main Street.

He likes the pavers going in at the front terrace of Rothbard Ale + Larder (the former Town Hall):

old-town-hall-new-pavers-december-2016

Meanwhile, across the street, decorative railings are being installed at Bedford Square. “The original ones in front of the YMCA were smashed during construction,” JP says. “I never thought they’d be replaced!”

bedford-square-old-y-december-2016-jp-vellotti

Intrigued, he also took this photo. “The old girl looks spiffy!” he notes.

(Photos/JP Vellotti)

(Photos/JP Vellotti)

Moseying back up the Post Road, JP adds, “It’s nice that Post 154” — the old post office — “is rented again (though not for food). It’s a good time for local landmarks!”

Bill Taibe Honors Yesterday, Tomorrow

Starting with Le Farm — and continuing through the Whelk and Kawa Ni — Bill Taibe has offered diners 3 very different visions of what a great restaurant can be.

Now he’s preparing a new space.

It’s in Westport’s original Town Hall: the 1908 stone building next to Restoration Hardware on the Post Road, opposite Patagonia. The building already houses another dining spot — Rothbard Ale + Larder — in the lower level (once the town’s police headquarters, including a jail).

Westport's original Town Hall, on the Post Road next to Restoration Hardware. It's now home to Rothbard Ale + Lager -- and, soon, a new Bill Taibe restaurant.

Westport’s original Town Hall, on the Post Road next to Restoration Hardware. It’s now home to Rothbard Ale + Larder — and, soon, a new Bill Taibe restaurant.

Even as he builds, Bill is not sure of the menu. The other day, CTBites reported:

“Westport needs a real old time tavern,” Taibe told us. Unlike his other restaurants, there will likely be few twists, no high wire acts. “This menu would probably not be as aggressive,” he suggested. “Unlike the Whelk and Kawa Ni, we’d even have red meat.”

He loves the downtown location, and the site’s historic bones. So even though his new, as-yet-unnamed restaurant is a work in progress, Bill knows one thing.

He’s asking Westporters for old photos of the 1st Town Hall. You can donate other memorabilia too: menus or anything else from produce markets, shops, butchers, bakers, and fish mongers.

You can find him at wtaibe@aol.com.

Or any of his restaurants, current or future.

(Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)