Tag Archives: Shake Shack

Roundup: Distracted Driving, Breakfast Club, Shake Shack …

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If you drove on I-95 or the Merritt Parkway yesterday, you noticed electronic signs warning against distracted driving: “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”

They’re part of a state Department of Transportation campaign for April — it’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The Westport Police have joined the effort too.

Connecticut law prohibits the use of any hand-held electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers 16 or 17 years of age are prohibited from using a cell phone or mobile device any time, even a hands-free one.

Drivers who are ticketed pay $200 for the first offense, $375 for the next, and $625 for the third and subsequent offenses.

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If you never saw “The Breakfast Club”: You missed a classic.

If you missed Triple Threat Academy’s staged workshop production of it at Toquet Hall: You missed another classic.

But you’re in luck! Excerpts have just been posted on YouTube.

The performance grew out of TripleThreat’s Zoom production, directed by founder and “Fame” star Cynthia Gibb during the pandemic.

The cast brought such energy and power to their Zoom sessions that Gibb vowed to bring it to the stage as soon as it was safe.

Despite only 10 hours of rehearsal, the show earned a standing ovation. Triple Threat plans more productions like it. Their spring session begins April 12, with acting and improv classes for youth, teens and adults at Toquet Hall.

Click here for details. As for video below: Hey, it’s “The Breakfast Club.” Beware of f-bombs.

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Could Shake Shack be leaving?

It looked that way, from from the commercial real estate listing:

Turns out it’s the small rooms that are being rented by Pinnacle Fitness — perhaps to a physical therapist, chiropractor or similar tenant. Yuri’s Gym has closed.

Sounds like a great opportunity. Especially for a health professional who likes hamburgers. (Hat tip: Steven Goldstein)

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Aspetuck Land Trust’s popular “Lunch & Learn” series returns this Friday (April 8, noon to 1:15 p.m., Zoom).

“Invasives to Natives: A Backyard Restoration” features super-gardener Pam Roman. She’ll talk about her COVID-time project that transformed her garden — and also healed her heart and soul. Click here to register.

Pam Roman, in her garden.

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Fortunately, NASA has a deflection plan. Just as fortuitously, the Westport Astronomical Society’s next online lecture is with Dr. Nancy Chabot. She’s the planetary chief scientist at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory. She’ll talk about DART — the “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” defense mission.Here’s one more: an asteroid smashing into earth.

The event is April 19 (8 p.m.). Click here for the Zoom link. Click here for  the YouTube livestream.

It should be fascinating. If nothing has happened to the world in the meantime.

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Former Westporter Barbara Webster died in February at her Oklahoma City home, from complications of dementia. She was  85.

She retired in 2016 after a storied career as a teacher, counselor, professional dancer, choreographer and arts administrator. Her last appointments were as a career counselor at Bunnell High School in Stratford, and executive director of the Connecticut Dance School in Fairfield.

Webster taught dance and fitness for decades through the Westport adult education and summer school programs, and in studios across Fairfield County (including with former Broadway star Bambi Lynn).

She helped choreograph productions and enhanced costumes for Staples Players and at Coleytown Junior High School in the 1970s and ’80s, including shows like “Oklahoma!”, “My Fair Lady,” “Carousel” and “Dromio, Dromio!.” She served as a substitute teacher and guidance counselor too.

She performed with the Dancers of Faith and with Heritage Productions throughout the tri-state region, and presented her original work at the Unitarian Church in Westport. She held additional arts administration roles at the Levitt Pavilion, executive director of the Stamford Community Arts Council, and director of ARTSPACE in New Haven.

An accomplished seamstress and costume designer, Webster was one of 12 needlewomen working on Westport’s Bicentennial Quilt. She also created an original ornament for the Westport Heritage Christmas Tree.

In 1977 Webster co-founded Giftbags, Ltd. She helped develop a customized line of reusable felt bags and puppets for gifts, wine and treats that were featured at the Metropolitan Opera, and local boutiques. Later, she co-created puppets for sale at Blue Man Group performances.A native of New Jersey, Webster graduated first in her class from Barringer High School (Newark) in 1953 and received her BA degree from Douglass College, Rutgers University, in 1957. She earned a Master of Education degree from Rutgers in 1965.

Webster was predeceased by her husband Russell and brother, Dr. Edward C. Sheppard. Survivors include her children Russell Todd Webster of Anchorage, and Catherine Sheppard Webster of Oklahoma City, and grandchildren Haven Barnett, Teddy Webster, and Meredith and Thayer Dycus.

A memorial service will be held August 7 (2 p.m., Unitarian Church in Westport).

The family has requested that contributions in her memory be sent to a scholarship established in her name at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Barbara Webster

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Many “06880” readers sent photos of yesterday’s gorgeous rainbow over Compo Beach. Jeanine Esposito’s made the cut as today’s “Westport … Naturally” image.

(Photo/Jeanine Esposito)

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And finally … gamed jazz guitarist Larry Coryell was born today in 1943. He died in 2017.

Roundup: Gatsby, Clothing Drive, Shake Shack, More


The New Yorker has named its 36 best films of 2020.

Checking in at #30: “Gatsby in Connecticut.”

The magazine writes:

In this engaging rabbit-hole documentary, a nonprofessional filmmaker [Robert Steven Williams] pursues his obsession with “The Great Gatsby,” tracing key elements of Fitzgerald’s story to Westport, Connecticut—and connecting with a writer who published a related report in The New Yorker.

Appearing on any Top Films list a great accomplishment. But this is doubly impressive: It’s the New Yorker.

And it includes all releases this past year. Not just independent films. Not just documentaries. Every movie you could have streamed anywhere, or seen in a theater (for the 2 months in early 2020 when there were such things).

Congratulations, Robert! F. Scott, Zelda, Jay, Nick and Daisy would be proud.

(Click here for the full New Yorker story. Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)


“All Things Warm” is the name of Westport VFW Post 399’s winter drive. They’re collecting new and gently used warm clothing and blankets, for veterans their families.

Coats, hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, sweaters, thermals, winter socks, pajamas, boots — if it’s warm, they want it.

Drop-offs are accepted at the VFW Post (465 Riverside Avenue, at the Saugatuck Avenue split) through December 19.

VFW on Riverside Avenue


Emma Dantas — a Staples High School senior — is co-president of the Yale New Haven Hospital Junior Board. The institution is on the front lines fighting COVID. They need our help — and you can do it in a guilty-pleasure way.

Just buy lunch or dinner at Shake Shack in Westport, Darien or New Haven this Monday (December 7) between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Use the code “DONATION” at checkout — on the app, online or in person.

25% of the price of your order will go to Yale New Haven Hospital. It’s incredibly easy — and important. Tasty, too!

(Photo courtesy of Westport Patch)


And finally … on this date in 1933, the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. It repealed the 18th Amendment — in other words, it ended Prohibition.

Plenty of songs lamented the decade-plus ban on alcohol. Among the most famous: Bessie Smith’s 1928 “Me and My Gin,” and Louis Armstrong’s 1929 “Knockin’ a Jug,” with Jack Teagarden. The latter is one of the first major recorded collaborations of black and white musicians — and its title comes from an empty gallon of whiskey Armstrong saw in the studio. It was full when the session started.

 

Relishing The Best Burgers In Town

The burgers have been eaten. Over 1,000 votes have been cast.

Now, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce announces the winners of its Great Westport Burger Contest.

The envelope please…

Best Classic Burger: Viva Zapata

Best Cheeseburger: Match Burger Lobster

Best Gourmet Burger: Match Burger Lobster

Match Burger Lobster was one of two double winners. From left: Matthew Mandell, director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce; restaurant owner Matt Storch, and Ira Bloom of Berchem Moses, contest sponsor.

Best Veggie Burger: Little Barn

Best Non-beef Burger (fish, turkey, lamb…): Little Barn

Best Fast Food Burger: Shake Shack

Best Slider: Dunville’s

Honorable Mention: Rothbard and Parker Mansion

Vegans: Eat your hearts out!

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In more Westport Weston Chamber news, the 5th Supper & Soul event takes place on Saturday (April 6).

One $75 ticket buys 3 great entertainment elements: a 3-course dinner at 6 p.m., a concert with Head for the Hills, and happy hour prices for drinks after the show.

Participating restaurants are 190 Main, Amis, Jesup Hall, Rothbard Ale + Larder, Spotted Horse, Tavern on Main and Wafu. All are located within a couple of blocks of Seabury Center, where the concert takes place.

Head for the Hills has been together for 15 years. They mix rock, folk, R&B and bluegrass. Mandell says, “If you like Mumford & Sons, you’ll love this band.” (Check out the video below — you’ll agree!)

Click here for tickets. A limited number of concert-only tickets are available too.

Friday Flashback #65

Today, there are plenty of places in Westport to buy great hamburgers. From Matt Storch’s Burger Lobster in Saugatuck to Shake Shack near Southport, we’re awash in meat.

Once upon a time, there were 2 places to go: Big Top, and Chubby Lane’s.

Big Top — which drew a great lunchtime crowd ranging from lawyers to bikers — was at the corner of the Post Road and Roseville. Today it’s McDonald’s, which basically says everything you need to know about America.

Chubby’s, meanwhile, was more of a dinner place. It was located next to the New Englander Motel (now the Westport Inn). Across the street was Charpentier’s (now Border Grill), a butcher shop that was the reason Chubby’s burgers were so good. (They were also the first place in town that charged the astronomical price of $1 for one.)

I don’t have any photos of Chubby Lane’s. Long ago, it was replaced by the Willows Pediatrics Group. But its predecessor was called the Bantam. And it looked like this:

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

 

One Less Place To Buy Drugs

It’s official: Walgreens is closing its longtime HomeGoods shopping center location (opposite Shake Shack). A source says that employees have been told they will be retained, but they have not been told where.

Walgreens has a 2nd Westport location, just a couple of miles away across from the Sherwood Diner.

The company —  the largest drug retailing chain in the US, with over 8,000 stores — recently abandoned plans to build a new facility just over the Southport line. Neighbors had filed a legal challenge with Fairfield’s Plan and Zoning Commission.

Before it was Walgreens, the HomeGoods plaza site was occupied by MediMart.

Meanwhile, the most important question is: Why is Walgreens’ logo red?

Walgreens logo

Adios, Oaxaca

Oaxaca — the Compo Acres Shopping Center restaurant featuring cuisine from Mexico’s southernmost province — has closed.

Oaxaca was in business for a bit over a year. It succeeded Thali, an Indian restaurant. For a long time before that, it was the pan-Asian TaiPan.

Compo Shopping Center -- across the Post Road -- is reflected in the glass door of Oaxaca. A simple sign announces the restaurant has closed.

Compo Shopping Center — across the Post Road — is reflected in the glass door of Oaxaca. A simple sign announces the news.

The dining scene in Westport constantly changes. 323 opened recently — after many delays — to good reviews, in the spot formerly occupied by Bogey’s.

Shake Shack has stabilized the location that for years saw an ever-changing cast of cuisines. Everything was there, from a steak chain to Mongolian.

Some places — like the corner of Post Road and Myrtle Avenue — evolve from restaurants (Glynn’s, etc.) to commercial uses (it’s now a real estate office). Others go the opposite way: 5 Guys spent years as a Western Auto, before morphing into a girls’ clothing store.

No word yet on what will take Oaxaca’s place. But its New Haven location is still open.

Shake Shack: A Very Important Restaurant

Shake Shack is one of the 20 most important restaurants in America.

That’s not me talking. The declaration comes from Bon Appetit.

The New York-based chain is right there at #16 — nestled between Seattle’s The Walrus and the Carpenter (?!) and Austin’s Franklin Barbecue. #1 is Momofuku.

A summer's night, at a very important restaurant.

A summer’s night, at a very important restaurant.

The magazine notes that these are not the nation’s best restaurants. They’re the ones that “define how we eat out.”

Here, Bon Appetit-ically speaking, is how we eat out at Shake Shack:

Danny Meyer didn’t just redefine the fast-food experience — the meal, the look, the level of service — he created a damn good burger. With its custom-blend patty (and nostalgic nods like gooey American cheese and a soft bun), it is a burger worth standing in line for—and you will likely have to, for up to an hour.

The Shack Burger

The Shack Burger

Like all fast-food chains, consistency is king, but here that means beef supplied by meat guru Pat La Frieda; cool, urban-chic spaces by architecture firm SITE; and a definitive menu, though they do tailor the “concretes” (frozen custard with mix-ins) to each location. (We’ll have the “Fudge-eddaboudit.”)

In under a decade, they’ve grown to 22 locations, from NYC to Dubai. Look for 5 more in 2013, including Istanbul.

Right now, there are only 2 Shake Shacks in Connecticut. Ours opened in 2011; New Haven followed last year.

Five Guys did not make the cut.

What are they — chopped liver?

Danny Meyer On A Roll

This coming Sunday’s New York Times Magazine has a loooong article on Shake Shack (and many other restaurants) owner/legend Danny Meyer.

There’s no specific mention of Westport in the text — beyond an anecdote from last March, when he told an industry crowd about his plans for a Connecticut restaurant to “huge applause” — but there is a nice photo of him addressing new hires.

In Westport.

(Photo by Gillian Laub/New York Times)

Our Long Wait Is Almost Over…

…because Shake Shack opens July 20.

It’s the most eagerly anticipated Westport hamburger news since way back in 2010, when Five Guys came to town.

Shake Shack sees Five Guys’ burgers and fries, and raises them with hot dogs, shakes and frozen custard.

Plus beer and wine.

Let the burger battles begin.

Shake Shack Seeks Shots

It’s a popular parlor game:  trying to name all the places that once tried to do business at the site of the soon-to-open Shake Shack (across from the now-closed Toys R Us).

Perhaps the 98th time is the charm? (Photo courtesy of Westport Patch)

Most recently it was Pho Mekong, a Vietnamese place.  In previous incarnations it was a Mongolian restaurant, a seafood spot, a Beefsteak Charlie’s — or was it Steak & Brew?  The mind boggles.

“06880” — and the readers who frequently ask me to remember all the long-closed restaurants — are not the only interested parties.

Here’s a request from Dave Yearwood, Shake Shack general manager:

Does anyone know what was at the new Shake Shack site at 1849 Post Rd East, Westport?  We are trying to find out if there was a business, farm or house on the property before the 1950’s, turn of the century, etc.

We know that  Old Sasco Mill was on one side, and the other side was the Benjamin F. Bulkley House.  However, we are not sure if our space was once a part of either of those properties.  Please let me know:  dyearwood@shakeshack.com

Thanks.

If you’ve got photos, I’m sure Dave would love to have them.  And please copy “06880” — I’d also like an answer to this very popular question.