Tag Archives: Sconset Square

Roundup: Comedy, MoCA, Thief …

A sold-out crowd filled Fairfield University’s Quick Center for last night’s “Stand Up for Comedy.”

The benefit — the 15th annual for Homes with Hope, but the first in-person comedy show for them since COVID struck — featured comedian Pat McGann. He knew his audience, and deftly straddled the line between humor and awareness of the the crucial work HwH does to ease homelessness and food insecurity in Westport.

A “paddle raise” pledge drive before McGann took the stage marked a milestone: Over 15 years, “Stand Up for Comedy” has now raised over $3 million.

Pat McGann, on stage at the Quick Center. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Also last night: MoCA Westport’s opening reception for “From the Pen to the Knife.” The exhibit features watercolors by Marian Christy. Now 90 years old, she invented Knifed Watercolors — using only palette knives and puddles of paint (no drawing, no brushes).

Christy was a Pulitzer-Prize nominated journalist for the first chapter of her life, when women had limited journalistic opportunities. During this second chapter, she pivoted from “the pen to the knife.”

The exhibition is on view through November 27. Docent-led tours are available on Thursday afternoons (advance registration requested). Admission is complimentary on Thursdays after 4 p.m. For more information, visit click here,

Marian Christy at MoCA. (Photo/Leslie LaSala)


Also yesterday: Westoberfest — sponsored by the Downtown Merchants Association — and the Fall Fete, showcasing Sconset Square. It was a full day in Westport, for sure.

Selfie at Sconset Square.


Westport Police are attempting to identify a woman who stole $14,000 worth of jewelry from a Main Street business last week.

Anyone with information about the woman — seen in surveillance photos below — should call the Detective Bureau: 203-341-6017.


It’s autumn in Westport — a time when everyone has a “favorite” tree.

I have several. They’re at Staples High School’s Loeffler Field — the long-time home of the soccer teams. They hold a special place in my heart, because I had them planted there 16 years ago, when we built a terrace at the top of the hill.

Shira Honigstein loves them too. She sent this photo, for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Shira Honigstein)


And finally … today is National Boss’ Day.

No, it doesn’t mean a song from Bruce Springsteen. Instead:


(Speaking of jobs: “06880” takes a lot of work. To help support your local blog, please click here.)


Sconset Square: New Identity For Old Shopping Center

For decades since its construction more than 70 years ago, Sconset Square was — well, undefined.

Originally called Sherwood Square, the small plaza off Myrtle Avenue housed a random group of stores. The original Sport Mart, Carousel Toy Store, The Paint Bucket, a camera shop — all were there.

So was a tailor, travel agency and offices (including the Westport News).

A succession of restaurants succeeded the Pickle Barrel, which featured — yes — an actual pickle barrel.

That was then. Sconset Square, now, is very now.

Over the past few years, co-owners David Waldman and Roger Leifer transformed a gaggle of storefronts into a cohesive set of like-minded businesses. All share a common theme: high-end design, aimed at creative-type folks.

Waldman’s vision was for an artistic-type hub, drawing people together. The new mix of stores includes interior design, an art gallery, artisanal florist, jewelry and gifts. The new café/restaurant/bar, Casa Me, opens soon.

Renovations updated Sconset’s look, and unified the exteriors. The esthetic was light, yet New England-y.

Studio Cafe is a new Westport gathering spot.

“People who come here ‘get it,'” says Petra Barguss, an artist who handles the square’s social media.

“But not everyone knows how much has been done here.”

So next Saturday (October 15, noon to 5 p.m.), Sconset Square hosts a Fall Fete.

There will be a pizza truck, and live music by Tangled Vine. Every store will offer a special activity, from cider to raffles to a pumpkin toss.

Bungalow is a long-time tenant in Sconset Square.

Sconset Square has always lacked an identity — and signage.

The new signs are not yet up. But the identity is now strong. Here’s a quick look at the tenants:

UpNorth — Allison Daniels Design: Hand-crafted, custom jewelry and accessories.

SwoonContemporary art and photography; design services, furniture and antiques.

YoyaSources whimsical 0-12 children’s clothing and accessories from exclusive European brands.

Bespoke DesignsElegant, personalized invitations and stationery; hotel silver, tableware and linens too.

Casa MeCocktails, an Italian menu, coffee; light, airy, with a long bar and outdoor dining.

Blossom + Stem: Fresh flower bouquets and arrangements for private homes, corporate events and weddings.

The Brady CollectionCurated collection of luxury wall coverings and textiles from boutique brands (appointment only).

Bungalow: Furniture, antiques, textiles, jewelry and books for decorators and clients.

The Tailored HomeEclectic, locally bench-made furniture, mirrors and lighting, with upholstery fabrics.

Studio CaféCoffee and juice bar with Spanish dishes (empanadas, tortillas) plsu salads and sandwiches.

Jenni Kayne HomeCustom furniture, textiles and homeware in natural finishes; cashmere and alpaca loungewear, organic skincare balms and candles.

[OPINION] Time To Rethink Architecture, Design Choices

Longtime Westporter and alert “06880” reader Elisabeth Keane keeps a sharp eye on this town. She’s not pleased.

Elisabeth writes:

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing at Bridge Square. The formerly charming historic waterfront has turned into absurd “farm-style” buildings. Yellow and green paint, and tin roofs and windows befit the “style du jour” architecture. (Most builders and architects are on the same design page, in the same design book.*) It is ugly and inappropriate.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

How did this type of  renovation (certainly not an improvement) get past avoid the town’s guidelines?  Yikes.

Are there any architectural guidelines for Westport?  The architectural charm of Westport is being devastated.

They ruined Sconset Square too, which used to be charming and New England-y. Now it resembles just another somewhat upscale strip mall, with tin roofs and black-appearing windows. I know it is still under construction but…

Sconset Square (Photo/Dan Woog)

Not to mention the sketch I saw of the the former Westport Inn (aka Delamar Westport).

At this rate, I don’t have high hopes for rejuvenating Main Street either. I think those uninspired strings of lights along both sides of Main Street more closely resemble the rows of lights strung up for a week above street fairs in the city. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for me those undistinguished strings of lights do not convey any artistic, unusual or thoughtful way to light our Main Street, in this still artistic and talented town. Did anybody consult a resident or local lighting professional (perhaps theatre or movie lighting) for advice?

Then there’s the chain link fence at Veterans Green. Seriously? One  might want to have that special place accessible.

Speaking of Myrtle Avenue: Whoever will be doing it better be very careful restoring Town Hall, and not messing up the exterior or interior.

And speaking of interiors: I hope the current interior decorating fad in public buildings will fade soon. Restaurants for some perverse reason seem to follow along lamely, with hard surfaces everywhere. The noise level is through the roof. Sound reverb requires everyone to speak LOUDLY. Seating is hard, not comfortable. The high bar stools are not for everybody — maybe in a corner of a bar, but not in a restaurant.

Restaurant ambiance is more than the food; it involves comfortable seating, and conversing in a normal tone, not yelling as at a sporting event.

*Design book: Look at all the houses built c. 2003-2005-ish, with faux Palladian windows. Is there really only one architectural design book? It’s cheaper that way, and it shows. I can only imagine what our most skilled and creative architects must think as they see these things…

Yoya: From The West Village To Sconset Square

During her 20 years as owner of Yoya, Christina Villegas grew the West Village children’s fashion store into a 60-brand neighborhood mecca. It was a true community, with European fashions moms loved.

She enjoyed living in the city. But Colombia-born Christina and her Danish husband realized they needed more space for their children. They visited nearly every town on the water, in every direction from Manhattan.

Christina Villegas, with her daughters.

Westport was love at first sight. “The vibe, the people, the beauty, the beach — I just had a feeling this was the right place,” Christina says.

They bought a house that had been on the market a while. She commuted to Yoya, while also renovating her new home.

Then COVID struck. Her rent — which had already increased dramatically — proved too much to handle. Christina made the heartbreaking decision to close.

But as that West Village door closed, a new Westport door opened. Christina found 2nd-floor space in Sconset Square — above Bespoke Designs — to open a new Yoya.

Sconset Square Yoya, above Bespoke Designs.

That too felt right. She’s surrounded by “cool stores and creative people.” She loves the vibe that property owner David Waldman has created there.

Yoya highlights Christina’s multicultural perspective on children’s clothing, carrying nearly 2 dozen brands. She also offers fun women’s wear, and interior design.

The shop opened at the end of December. Customers are excited, the owner says. “There are some cute kids’ stores in Westport,” she notes. “But this really focuses on design and visuals.”

Christina Villegas, with some of her selections.

Sconset Square is not the West Village. But, Christina says, her New York neighborhoods “seemed like a small town.”

Now she’s in a real one. starting her second act on the second floor.

Roundup: Stephen Sondheim, Artists Collective, Sconset Square …


Among the many tributes to legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, this one caught Veri Krassner’s eye.

Joshua Henry — the Tony-nominated actor whose credits include “Hamilton,” “Scottsboro Boys” and the current film “Tick, Tick….Boom!” — posted a photograph of Sondheim and the cast of “Being Alive” at the Westport Country Playhouse in 2007.

He noted how memorable the show was — especially because Sondheim himself was there to see it.

Henry was just beginning his career then. But he remembered Sondheim — and Westport.


Speaking of Sondheim and the Playhouse: The legendary theater released a statement honoring the Broadway icon. The WCP says:

“During the summer of 1950, Stephen Sondheim was an apprentice at Westport Country Playhouse. He worked in a variety of capacities on 14 shows and appeared in a production of “The Life of the Party,” written by the Playhouse’s founder Lawrence Langner. Many of Sondheim’s fellow apprentices that year continued as theater professionals, including composer Mary Rodgers, film director Frank Perry, theatrical agent Peggy Hadley, and Actors’ Equity officer Conard Fowkes.

“Fifteen years after his apprenticeship, Sondheim’s own work appeared on the Playhouse stage with a production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ (1965). ‘A Little Night Music’ (1975) and ‘Side by Side by Sondheim’ (1978) followed in the next decade.  Most recently, ‘Into the Woods’ (2012) was directed by Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse artistic director.

“’Being Alive!,’ a world premiere conceived and directed by Billy Porter, took the Playhouse stage in 2007, with music and lyrics by Sondheim, who also provided collaborative assistance. The retrospective of Sondheim songs featured Chuck Cooper, Joshua Henry, and Leslie Odom, Jr., among others.

In 2006, the Playhouse honored its illustrious apprentice with a gala tribute performance, “The Ladies Who Sing Sondheim,” with Laura Benanti, Kristin Chenoweth, Barbara Cook, and Patti LuPone, directed by John Doyle.

Lamos said: “The entire Westport Country Playhouse family is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Stephen Sondheim. I got to know Stephen a bit over the years, mostly socially. He eagerly granted my request to appear in a tribute to Mary Rodgers, who he’d gotten to know while they were both apprentices here. She was our guest of honor when we saluted her father Richard Rodgers at Westport Country Playhouse’s annual gala in 2009.

“Yet when I was directing ‘A Little Night Music’ for Baltimore Center Stage and tried staging a short musical sequence that made no sense to me, I emailed him to ask about it. In minutes, he answered right back. ‘Oh you can cut that. It was something Pat (Birch, the original Broadway choreographer) and Hal (Prince, the legendary director) cooked up, but it’s not needed at all.’

“And just a year ago he graciously agreed to participate in the shooting of a short-form documentary by filmmaker Doug Tirola that celebrates the history of Westport Country Playhouse. In the video clip he wished the Playhouse a happy 90th birthday, then jokingly wished himself the same, since ‘we’re the same age.’ That’s a memory that I find particularly poignant today.”

Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo), during his 1950 apprenticeship. The photo was taken at the Jolly Fisherman restaurant. Also in the photo: future film director Frank Perry (front row, left) and Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary (2nd row, 4th from left).


The Artists’ Collective of Westport celebrates the season with a “small works holiday show,” at their Westport Country Playhouse gallery.

An opening reception is set for December 8 (6 to 8 p.m.), with an open house from Thursday to Sunday (December 9-12, 2 to 6 p.m.).

As usual, the works are eclectic, intriguing, inspiring — and fun.


Sconset Square merchants hosts a holiday stroll this Thursday (December 2, 5:30 to 8 p.m.).

Singers from Staples High School and Greens Farm Academy will entertain. There are events at 5 stores, plus Christopher’s French Crepe Food truck.

At Bungalow, for example, Suzie Kondi showcases her cashmeres and Westport’s Ronit Tarshis her jewels. Christopher LaGuardia of LaGuardia Design Group in the Hamptons will sign books.

Bungalow is part of Sconset Square’s Holiday Stroll.


Plumed Serpent — the popular bridal and formal gown store in Colonial Green — was damaged in an October fire. It was contained in the front of the store, and no one was hurt.

All merchandise is gone. The store is bare. A sign says “Closed.”

However — thankfully — it’s only temporary. They’re still hosting appointments for current brides, for fittings and pick-ups.

They’re not sure when. But, they assure anxious brides and brides-to-be: They will reopen.

(Photo and hat tip/Molly Alger)


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features a red-tailed hawk, guarding its prey.

(Photo/Shira Honigstein)


And finally … on this day in 1777, the first civilian settlement (“pueblo”) in Alta California was founded. Today we know it as San Jose.

Studio Cafe Settles In Sconset Square

Some new restaurants open with a splash. La Plage, Hudson Malone and Basso all appeared during the pandemic, with plenty of well-deserved press.

Others open their doors more quietly.

You may not have heard of Studio Café. It’s hidden in plain sight — inside The Tailored Home, the interiors and furniture design store at Sconset Square. Partners Scott Falciglia and Jhon Ortiz combine design and hospitality. The café showroom and garden all complement each other.

Studio Cafe,in Sconset Square.

That’s by “design.” Scott and Jhon have been inspired by dining experiences around the world. They realized that Westport has a robust restaurant scene, some of them — on the water or downtown — quite picturesque.

There are many cuisines here already. Studio Café adds Spanish flavors. The menu ranges from bacalao-stuffed roasted Navarro peppers with cream sauce  and butternut cream soup with grapefruit pieces to escalivada (roasted vegetable board) and arugula salad. There’s a fresh juice bar, coffee, tea and  baked goods too.

Studio Café is a quiet, comforting corner. The kitchen is small and open to the front counter, making guests feel like they’re “home.” Entertainment is on tap soon.

You can order online too (click here).

As for what to order, Scott recommends:

Breakfast: tortilla española (Spanished baked egg dish with seasoned potato or onion), with a fresh orange juice and latte.

Lunch: Roast asparagus with hummus and tapenade, with classic iced tea.

Afternoon snack: Chai latte and Spanish cheesecake.

(Follow Studio Cafe on Instagram and Facebook: @studiocafect.) 

Sampling Studio Cafe’s fare.

Weather Beginning To Look NOT A Lot Like Christmas

Because this is 2020, Christmas Eve and Day will be treacherous.

Winds will blow from 25 to 35 miles an hour; gusts may howl past 50. The strongest gusts are expected between 2 and 9 a.m.

Rain will pour down — 2 to 4 inches. It will be heaviest in the predawn hours.

With temperatures in the 50s, that means tons of melting snow.

So be prepared for flooding and wet basements, along with downed trees, flying furniture and (of course) power outages.

Sconset Square prepares for Deadman’s Brook to overflow. (Photo/Mark Mathias)

Westport will open its emergency operations center at Fire Department headquarters at 6 p.m. That mirrors Eversource’s start time for their on-call apparatus. They’ve already called in out-of-state help.

Could this be a repeat of Tropical Storm Isaias 4 months ago?

Back then, trees were in full leaf. They acted like sails on a boat, causing most of the uprooted damage.

This time it’s the weakened trees that will fall. Most of the damage this time will come from weak branches that fall — and pine trees.

Be safe. Be smart. And charge your devices.

Merry Christmas!

Menu Moments: What To Eat At Le Penguin

Le Penguin is a perfect spot for date night, dinner with friends, and adult birthday parties (gotta love the giant stuffed penguins and party music).

If you’re willing to forgo the bread basket, a healthy meal is surprisingly easy to put together right from the menu. In the latest installment of our continuing series, Westport nutritionist Heather Bauer serves up her top healthy picks for the popular Sconset Square spot.

Enjoy a warm welcome — and plenty of healthy options — at Le Penguin.

Healthy choice appetizers

  • Fresh baby artichoke salad (vegan)
  • Tuna tartare
  • Appetizer mussels in white wine
  • Boston Bibb salad (vegan)

Healthy choice entrees

  • Grilled salmon
  • Red snapper
  • Grass-fed grilled filet mignon (request no potatoes, sauce on the side, and all veggies instead of potatoes)
  • Entree portion of mussels in white wine (request veggies or salad instead of fries)
  • Appetizer beef carpaccio
  • NOTE: Chicken paillard lightly breaded with panko crust over arugula and parm: This is not on the menu, but it’s one of my favorite entrees at Le Penguin. The chicken is very thin, topped with a ton of arugula and freshly shaved parmesan.

Run Over To Fleet Feet

A new store has opened in Sconset Square. You can drive to its grand opening tomorrow.

Better yet, you can run.

Fleet Feet is family owned and operated — part of a network of specialty running, walking and fitness stores across the country. Owners Dave and Lynn Wright have been (duh) runners for decades. She is recreational; he’s more competitive, running every distance up to marathons (including Boston, New York and Chicago).

Lynn and Dave Wright

They have 2 grown children, and 4 grandchildren — some of whom already run.

Dave worked in retail technology his entire career. After earning his MBA 5 years ago, he began looking for his own business. Everyone always says “do what you love,” so…

From their base in western Massachusetts, they began exploring options. Fleet Feet — which had a store in Longmeadow, where they lived — seemed like a perfect fit.

Two years ago the Wrights began looking for markets in this area with a similar feel to Longmeadow.

But the place had to be more than a good business location. It had to feel like home.

“No cookie-cutter shopping centers,” Dave says. “We wanted a place that felt local and connected to the community.”

After spending a day at Compo Beach in August, they rode their bikes around town. Then they walked Main Street.

Till then, they’d only driven through here, on I-95 or the Merritt. Suddenly, Westport was on their short list.

They discovered Sconset Square accidentally, after searching online for smaller retail spaces. They came down on a beautiful late summer day, and instantly knew it was right.

The small, funky shopping center was just starting a face-lift project. It was affordable, and large enough for the Wrights’ plans.

They loved the landlord. The lease negotiation was short and easy.

Four months later, they opened. Runners have embraced them — even during the coldest days of winter.

“We are excited to see how many people we can help through walking, running and living a healthy lifestyle,” Wright says.

Tomorrow’s grand opening “runs” from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There’s music, and a fun run/walk (3- or 5-mile routes) at 9 a.m.

Check out the running footwear, apparel and accessories. Learn about injury prevention products, and walk/run programs for every ability.

Oh, yeah: Jr. Deli’s food truck will be there. Whether you’ve run a few miles or driven over, there will be plenty to eat.

Fleet Feet is filled with running gear, and accessories.

Honoring Noel duPont At Sconset Square Stroll

In 1955, Francois duPont opened a jewelry store. Twenty years later, he took it to Main Street.

In 1980, Francois’ son Noel took over the business. It was one of Westport’s go-to places for beautiful items, handsome watches, and of course that quick replacement watch strap or battery.

Noel duPont

A few years ago, Noel moved around the corner to Sconset Square. “He lit up the square with his smile, and his weekly visits to each shop to check in,” says neighbor Tracey Heinemann. He was a constant and beloved presence — always accompanied by his Yorkie-poo Ollie.

Two weeks ago, Noel duPont died suddenly at home. He was 59 years old.

The Staples High School graduate had attended Berklee College of Music. A gifted drummer, he was passionate about the music of his idol, Frank Zappa. He also loved skiing, swimming and hiking in Maine.

He leaves behind his wife of 20 years, Julia, and sons Maxwell and Lucas.

A celebration of Noel’s life is set for Saturday, January 5 (Tavern on Main, 1 to 4 p.m.).

As is sometimes the case, a business cannot survive the death of its owner. Julia is liquidating Francois duPont Jewelers. This weekend and next, all jewelry is 50% off.

It’s a bittersweet time for Noel’s fellow merchants in Sconset Square. They’re busy preparing for next Thursday’s Holiday Stroll. From 5 to 8 p.m. on December 6, the popular shopping center on Myrtle Avenue — nestled between the Post Road, Christ & Holy Trinity and Church Lane — will be filled with holiday singers. The Little Red Waffle Truck will sell food. There are prizes too.

Each store has something special. Swoon offers festive English treats, and shows off seasonal floral deocrations. Bungalow serves aperitifs, along with tarot card readings. Bespoke Designs features champagne and savory snacks. Kerry Rosenthal has festive nibbles and toddies. Roots Salon gives discounts on artwork, and a chance to win a free service.

At Le Penguin there’s happy hour prices, complimentary bar bites, and singer Antoine Blech.

Francois duPont Jewelers, in Sconset Square.

Of course, Francois duPont Jewelers will be open too — for one of its last days.

Amid all the merriment, his many friends will be thinking of the popular, ever-smiling, aptly named Noel duPont.