Hundreds of Westporters — and many more out-of-towners — poured into the narrow streets of Saugatuck today.
They ambled along Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Saugatuck Avenue, enjoying our 3rd annual Slice of Saugatuck festival.
Food and drink was the main attraction. Over 25 restaurants and merchanats — including Viva’s, Mansion, Rainbow Thai, Craft Butchery, Saugatuck Sweets, The Duck, Chinese Takeout, Cuatros Hermanos — even 99 Bottles and Dunkin’ Donuts — offered treats.
But there was music too, ranging from School of Rock and folk to steel drums, along with stuff from hair salons, galleries and a tae kwan do place.
The weather was perfect. The vibe was cool.
And — because most people stayed off the roads — even the traffic was fine.
It was a fantastic slice of life, on a wonderful Sunday afternoon. With proceeds benefiting the Gillespie Center food pantry too, what’s not to like?
Tutti’s was one of many Saugatuck restaurants dishing out some of its most popular items. Lines formed instantly, and stayed long.
The plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk rocked all afternoon long.
What’s a street festival without a bounce house? This one was in the Rizzuto’s lot.
Mr. Sausage showed up too, to help promote Saugatuck Craft Butchery’s carnivorous samples.
Downunder was busy all day, offering kayak and paddleboard rides. Nearby, boat owners tied up at the dock.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day — or our next snowstorm — Saugatuck Sweets is set to open.
The newest addition to Saugatuck Center — taking over from Craft Butchery, which moved across the street — is still under construction. But it will satisfy sweet teeth this Saturday (February 8, 12-4 p.m.), next Thursday (February 13, 2-8 p.m.) and the following day — Friday, February 14, aka Valentine’s Day, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
They sell a wide assortment of candy baskets, a full line of teddy bears, and other treats.
Word on the sweet street is there’s a “Manny’s Special” on the menu too.
If you were at Staples High School during the Manny era, you know what that means.
If not — well, you have to order it to believe it.
Remember that “Remember When?” teaser sign that “06880” wondered about last Sunday?
Readers speculated it involved a new ice cream parlor, coming to Saugatuck Center.
Now it’s official. Al DiGuido and Pete Romano — an entrepreneur/civic “angel” and landscape architect/Saugatuck native, respectively — will open “Saugatuck Sweets” in January.
The location is the former Saugatuck Craft Butchery on Riverside Avenue. In just one year, it outgrew its building and moved across the street.
Saugatuck Sweets will sell high quality desserts, ice cream, yogurt, bulk candy and the like. It’s one more addition to an area quickly earning props for its restaurants, non-chain stores (including the butcher shop, a gourmet market and kayak rental place), walkability and fun.
The interior of the former Saugatuck Craft Butchery — shown here — is easily adapted to Saugatuck Sweets. Chicken, lamb and sausages will be replaced by ice cream, candy and seasonal gift items.
Sweets’ location is perfect. Not many people will chill with ice cream on the outdoor plaza this winter. But inside it will be jammed. By spring, Saugatuck Sweets — along with the Whelk next door — will be one more reason that Saugatuck Center is a hot destination.
DiGuido (who founded the Al’s Angels children’s charity) and Romano (whose longtime civic involvement includes the PAL and Festival Italiano) have spent decades doing good things for kids, families, Saugatuck and our entire town.
Their newest venture promises to be especially sweet.
A couple of hours after posting this morning’s “06880” — wondering why there’s a “Remember When?” sign in the storefront of Saugatuck Craft Butchery, which expanded across the street — we’ve got an answer.
An anonymous — but tuned-in — Westporter says the new tenant will be an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. Serving gelato.
That’s perfect. It brings back the much-loved “Ice Cream Parlor” concept. Its 3 incarnations — on Main Street next to the current Tavern on Main; in Compo Shopping Center where Cohen Fashion opticians is now; finally further west on the Post Road across from the now-vacant Getty gas station — were beloved Westport institutions.
The pink Ice Cream Parlor on the Post Road, painted by Gabrielle Dearborn. It’s now a non-pink office building.
One of the best features of the new Saugatuck Center redevelopment is its emphasis on fun, local businesses — a kayak place, that Craft butchery, restaurants and a new gourmet market. The lone chain — Dunkin Donuts — blends in nicely with the rest of Bridge Square.
But this is not your father’s Saugatuck. Gelato is the new vanilla.
And — mamma mia! — it’s Italian, too.
A small portion of the vast Ice Cream Parlor menu.
Martha Stewart may no longer live here, but it’s not like she has a bone to pick with us.
Yesterday, in her cleverly named “The Martha Blog,” she gave a nice shout-out to Saugatuck Craft Butchery — the shop on Riverside Avenue (opposite the old Doc’s) that’s drawing raves from plenty of non-Martha normal people as well.
(On Monday I was at The Whelk — Bill Taibe’s equally excellent restaurant next door, whose meat comes from Craft Butchery. Sure, Bill’s menu is heavy on oysters, clams and other seafood. But my lamb burger at least equaled any dish I had in New Zealand. And the meat there was waaaay beyond mouth-watering.)
But back to Martha (of course). She wrote:
Recently, I learned of Saugatuck Craft Butchery, which opened its doors last November in my former hometown of Westport, Connecticut, and is owned by Ryan Fibiger. Fibiger started his career in finance on Wall Street and after relocating from Manhattan to Westport with his wife, Katherine, he became deeply disenchanted with the food choices in his new neighborhood.
Ryan Fibiger and friend.
Fibiger learned about a Butchering 101 course being taught by Joshua Applestone at his shop in Kingston. After taking the class, Fibiger started rethinking his career path, spending his weekends as Joshua’s apprentice. Along the way, he met Paul Nessel, who had some restaurant experience and was also deeply interested in the art butchery. The two found a shack to rent near Kingston, which they dubbed ‘Meat Camp’, and spent an intensive eight months learning the craft.
Saugatuck Craft Butchery is a gem of a shop, which Ryan and Paul run together. They are one of perhaps ten butcher shops in America that deal with cutting whole animals from nose-to-tail, sourcing their organic meat from local sustainable farms. It’s also a very friendly shop with wonderful customer relations and a true sense of community.
Okay, as a food writer Martha is no Ruth Reichl or Frank Bruni. But the woman knows her onions.
And her grass-fed, grain-finished, all-natural, humanely raised beef, pork, lamb and poultry too.
Martha Stewart talks turkey about Saugatuck Craft Butchery.
If you wanted to see the changing face of Saugatuck, yesterday was the day.
On her final day in business, Doc’s Café owner Yvonne Dougherty threw a party for her many customers friends.
There was good food, her classic Sledgehammer coffee (and wine), plus plenty of what-am-I-going-to-do-now lamentations from folks who have come in every day — “literally,” one said — since she opened her converted-garage doors on September 11, 2000.
Fans of all ages flocked to Doc's on its final day.
“As cheesy or clichéd as this may sound,” Yvonne wrote in a farewell letter,
you’ve become like family to me. While discovering what kind of milk you prefer in your latte and the variety and quantity of sweetener, I’ve also learned about you. I’ve learned about your families and your careers.
You’ve shared with me your successes and your hardships. In return, you’ve learned an awful lot about me — perhaps, at times, to the chagrin of my 3 children (all former Doc’s employees at one time or another) and my husband (the man who truly made this dream possible).
Yvonne promises to open a new incarnation of Doc’s — somewhere — “very soon.”
Meanwhile, across the street — literally — Saugatuck Craft Butchery threw a welcome-to-the-neighborhood party for itself. They’re the newest shop to open in the first phase of the Saugatuck retail/residential/office redevelopment — the same project that, in its next phase, will demolish the building housing the now-former Doc’s, among others.
The crew and customers are all smiles at Saugatuck Craft Butchery.
I’m not much of a red meat eater, but the spiced hamburgers that were free for the sampling were — literally — the best burgers I’ve ever tasted. That includes Shake Shack — and Big Top.
The plaza by the river was rockin’. There was music, food, and an old-fashioned, meet-your-neighbors vibe. It’s exactly what the developers of Saugatuck envisioned several years ago — but it was exactly the type of friendly, funky place Doc’s already was.
Thanks for the memories, Yvonne. We hope you’ll resurface somewhere, soon.
Thanks for coming, Saugatuck Craft Butchery. We hope you’ll be here a long time, as the area grows and thrives around you.
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