The Planning & Zoning Commission seldom hears “thank you.”
Their decisions are often controversial — or humdrum.
But this month’s unanimous vote to extend outdoor dining until further notice was met with effusive praise from restaurant owners throughout town.
From Tutti’s to downtown (where the other day all the well-spaced tables outside Basso were filled) — and even spots like Sherwood Diner — outdoor dining has been an important lifeline during a difficult time.
Basso. on Jesup Green (Photo/Dan Woog)
If neighboring property owners give consent, restaurants can use otherwise unusable setbacks, as Rizzuto’s has done with their popular igloos.
Rizzuto’s popular igloos. (Photo/Joel Treisman)
They can use adjacent property too, as Rive Bistro does.
Restaurants can even request Board of Selectmen permission to put tables in street parking and on sidewalks. Railroad Place (Romanacci, Tarantino, Harvest) and Church Lane (Spotted Horse, Manna Toast) are prime examples of town-restaurant cooperation.
The application process is simple. It’s managed by P&Z director Mary Young, with support from fire marshal Nate Gibbons, to ensure the safety of patrons and staff.
As the weather gets better, more outdoor dining options are sure to appear.
And who knows? They’re so popular, the P&Z may decide to keep them, long after the pandemic ends.
The Westport Downtown Merchants Association and ASF are partnering to raise $10,000 for local businesses hit by COVID. They’re offering a unique Westport design, for hoodies, long-sleeve shirts, t-shirts and tank tops.
For each sale, $10 will be given to a WDMA-backed fund, and distributed ASAP.
But hurry — they’re only available through June 14!
Ready for some exercise? Want to help frontline healthcare workers?
Thanks to Colby Kranz, you can do both.
The 2015 Staples High School graduate has designed a “Half Marathon from Home.” She posts a schedule that everyone follows, with playlists, daily tips and weekly motivational podcasts — but you choose the training routes (and final run, on July 25) that works best for you and your schedule.
Colby — who has 6,000 Instagram followers, for her @livingpurely healthy recipe and lifestyle tips — says that dozens of people have already signed up for the half-marathon. They come from many different backgrounds. Some were training for a race that got canceled. Others have never run before.
All are welcome!
Colby Kranz is in national sales with iHeartMedia. During COVID, she’s working — and training — in Westport.
The latest restaurant to reopen — with new, socially distant outdoor tables — is the Sherwood Diner.
The menu is not as extensive as before. But the most popular items are all there. And 2 more umbrellas are coming soon.
It’s not their biggest graduation of their lives. But every June, the Westport-Weston Co-op Nursery School celebrates its pre-K classes moving on to kindergarten next year with a a picnic on the Unitarian Church lawn, and an end-of-year video. Parents, grandparents and siblings join in.
For the first time in the school’s 65-year history, graduation was upended by a pandemic.
The videos were made by the Co-op’s Staples High School interns, and emailed to families. And instead of a picnic, there was a “car parade.”
But each youngster got a goody bag. There were “Co-op Class of 2020” t-shirts. And there were enough smiles all around to (almost) forget that there was a somber reason behind the new-style ceremony.
On April 8, Governor Lamont ordered all flags in Connecticut to fly at half-staff, mourning all the lives lost to COVID-19.
On May 19, he directed them all to return to full-staff.
The Westport Post Office has not yet gotten the message. The American and POW flags continue at half-staff.
As former president of Staples High School’s Gridiron Club and current treasurer of the Staples Boys Basketball Association, Amanda Thaw knows that whenever a Wrecker team needs help for a fundraiser, it turns to local restaurants and businesses.
They always come through.
Now, she thought, there must be a way to help support those owners in their time of need. And at the same time, to help front line personnel when they’re working so hard.
She made a few calls. Quickly, nearly a dozen Staples sports teams said “sign us up!”
#FeedItForward works this way: Teams pair up with a restaurant they choose. They provide a meal for a front line group of their choice. The restaurant delivers. The hungry personnel eat well. Everyone wins!
So far the girls soccer team fed Norwalk Hospital staffers, from Sherwood Diner. Boys soccer provided Tutti’s dinner to the Westport Police Department. The football team took care of the Westport Police Department, thanks to Viva Zapata. And boys lacrosse donated dinner to Westport EMS, through Colony Grill.
Also committed: boys basketball, rugby, wrestling, boys track, boys volleyball, baseball and boys tennis.
Future food providers include Calise’s Market, Jr’s Deli & Grille, and Four Brothers Pizza. All are grateful for the business, and eager to help.
Boys soccer co-captain Jack Douglas, flanked by Tutti’s owner Maria Funicello and Officer Jimmy Sullivan.
ASF — the always-helpful sports store — is involved too. Norwalk Hospital staffers are on their feet all day. So they’ve been provided new socks — and chewing gum. (Their mouths get stale wearing masks).
Hot meals for the Fire Department, courtesy of Staples football and Viva Zapata.
There are plenty of other groups to feed too, like supermarket and pharmacy personnel, utility workers and others.
More teams can get involved — not just Staples, but throughout town. Other organizations can help as well.
The Sherwood Diner is legendary. Since 1977 it’s welcomed families, nearly every Staples High School student, travelers making a pit stop off I-95 — and everyone else, from early risers to night owls. (It’s also the place to go when power is out.)
“The diner” offers cozy tables, good meals at fair prices, and food that arrives in what seems like seconds. It’s also got one of the biggest, longest menus in town.
Sherwood Diner (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
In this latest installment of our continuing series, local nutritionist Heather Bauer offers a diverse selection of healthy options.
Go for the Eggs Benedict. Skip the sauce and English muffin; add spinach and avocado. Tip: Eggs Benedict is a great stealth choice whenever you want to be healthy without being obvious. Order as is; ask for the sauce on the side, and eat the eggs with a fork and knife. (No one will notice.)
Try an egg white omelet with mushrooms, spinach, asparagus and a slice of American cheese (requesting 1 slice helps control the amount of cheese in the omelet). Ask for lettuce and tomato on the side, and fresh berries instead of toast.
Leanest order: 2 poached eggs, side of lettuce, tomato and fresh berries, no toast.
Really hungry? Add a side of Canadian bacon, turkey bacon or turkey sausage.
No-egg breakfast picks
Organic Greek yogurt with fresh berries. This is Connecticut local whole fat yogurt, so it keeps you satiated for longer than you think.
Oatmeal, plus a side of fresh berries or sliced fresh fruit.
(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
I recommend the California salad, fresh spinach salad, mesclun salad or Village salad.
It’s okay to add grilled chicken, grilled salmon or roasted turkey. Vegetarians can add feta or a veggie burger as their protein.
Have the salad chopped for you, if you find it too much work to do at the table. Simply say, “please chop my salad for me, and leave the dressing on the side.” However, if you are fast eater, don’t go this route. Adding dressing and chopping it yourself will help slow you down.
Avoid more than 2 fats in a salad. Cheese, olives, roasted veggies and dressing all count as fat.
I recommend the lobster salad – yum! It has mayo and the portion is pretty generous though, so try to leave a little over if you can (I know it’s hard to leave lobster on your plate!). This dish comes over mixed greens, which is good.
Other good choices…
Broiled salmon over steamed or sauteed spinach.
Traditional burger, no bun, side salad (request grilled veggies on top).
Vegetarians: veggie burger (Morningstar Farms). And the diner now offers the Beyond Burger; order with extra grilled veggies on top, and a side salad.
Request house-made tzatziki on the side of any above (not pita) as a good dipping sauce
A recent “06880” photo of the Compo Beach palm tree got an alert — and hungry — reader thinking about lobster rolls.
That reminded her of clam chowder, which made her think of Westfair Fish & Chips. She’s been a fan ever since she was a student at Staples High School, back in the mid-1980s.
The small, unassuming takeout-or-eat-in spot behind the strip mall opposite Stop & Shop has been a Westport favorite for over 30 years. And that got the “06880” reader wondering about other restaurants that have stood the test of time.
Three decades is a great achievement for many things: a career, a marriage. But it’s particularly remarkable in the constant churn that is Westport’s restaurant scene.
She and I came up with a list of places we think have been here for at least 3 decades. They include:
Gold’s. The anchor of Compo Shopping Center since it opened in the late 1950s, and the anchor 6 decades later for anyone who loves a quintessential deli.
Viva Zapata. Probably the oldest continually operating restaurant in town, especially when you consider its predecessor, at the entrance to what is now Playhouse Square.
Westport Pizzeria. Opened in 1968 on Main Street, where it stood proud and unchanging for over 45 years, “Westport Pizza” moved around the corner to the Post Road in 2014. Its special recipe thankfully remains the same.
The Black Duck. A star turn on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” has not changed this waterfront favorite one bit.
(Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)
Dunville’s. Around the corner from the Duck on Saugatuck Avenue, another down-home place that’s the same now as when its present owners grew up here.
Sherwood Diner. Or, simply, “the diner.” It’s no longer open 24/7, but is still the go-to spot for Staples High School seniors, senior citizens, every other human being in Westport, and anyone wandering in off nearby I-95.
(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Sakura. As steady as she goes. It — and the gorgeous cherry blossom tree outside, which gives the restaurant its name — has been a fixture opposite McDonald’s since the fast-food franchise was Roy Rogers. And before that, Big Top.
Fortuna’s. With limited seating, this is not really a restaurant. But stop quibbling. Its winning formula has filled the stomach of Staples students, Post Road workers and everyone else since the Ford administration.
Coffee An‘. If it’s good enough for Bill Clinton, it’s good enough for the rest of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a president or a peon. The donuts are the same — unbelievable — for all.
Little Kitchen. When it opened on Main Street, it really was a “little kitchen.” Now it’s bigger, and the granddaddy of all Asian fusion places in town.
Da Pietro’s. One of Westport’s best — and smallest — restaurants, earning praise and love since 1987.
Tavern on Main. This cozy 2nd-floor Main Street spot has not been here as long as its predecessor, Chez Pierre — but it’s getting close.
I couldn’t find out for sure when a few other long-lived (though probably less than 3 decades) restaurants opened. But these too have stood the test of time: Tengda. Tarantino’s. Finalmente. Via Sforza. Planet Pizza. Tutti’s. Positano’s (at 2 different locations).
Special mention goes to 2 fantastic delis that offer a wide variety of hot and cold food, and serve as community centers: Elvira’s and Christie’s Country Store.
Plus, of course, Joey’s by the Shore. It’s not a restaurant or a deli. But the beach concession occupies its own special. much-loved niche. And if it hasn’t been here for 30 years, it’s at least 29.
Finally, 2 other downtown delis have been around for decades. They’ve changed names, and — particularly with one — substantially updated the interior.
But Rye Ridge (formerly Oscar’s) and Winfield Street Coffee (previously Art’s, and definitely not on Winfield Street but right over the bridge) keep doing what their predecessors have done.
And what every other place in this story does: provide excellent food and continuity to generations of Westporters.
(Have I missed any longtime restaurants or delis? Click “Comments” — and my apologies!)
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