Tag Archives: Slice of Saugatuck

Slicing Up Saugatuck

The 6th annual Slice of Saugatuck was the best yet.

Perfect late-summer weather; a record number of 50-plus restaurants and businesses, and a large, relaxed crowd enjoyed an afternoon of strolling, eating, music, eating, shopping, eating, kids’ activities, and eating.

Thanks go to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, plus the Slice’s many sponsors.

And congrats to the Gillespie Food Pantry: recipient of some of today’s funds.

Here’s what the Slice looked like, starting and ending at Bridge Square:

Owner Bill Taibe (right) and his Kawa Ni staff served Japanese delicacies (and drinks).

Firefighters at the Saugatuck station promoted fire safety (and offered a seat in their very cool truck).

The Whelk offered some delicacies …

… while a few feet away on the riverfront plaza, the Silver Steel Band played.

Matt Storch dished out fries. The Staples High School graduate’s new Match Burger Lobster restaurant opens in 2 weeks.

Socks — a face painter — came from Norwalk.

The Funicello family’s Tutti’s is always a Slice of Saugatuck favorite.

Mersene — owner of the very popular Indulge by Mersene — welcomed Railroad Place Slice-goers with her typically funky goods.

Every kid loves a bounce house.

A tae kwan do place lured passersby with this inflatable guy.

The Slice included Saugatuck Avenue too. Here’s the mouth-watering scene at Dunville’s.

All roads led to the Slice of Saugatuck. If you’re reading this before 5 p.m. — there’s still time. After 5, several restaurants extend the fun with specially priced menus.

Slice Of Saugatuck Returns September 9

Saugatuck keeps growing. Every day, it seems, there’s something new and exciting in what was once our original town center.

There are new restaurants and stores. There’s new life and activity (like “Tuesdays at the Train”).

And — on Saturday, September 9 — new businesses will participate in the Slice of Saugatuck.

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place — and everywhere else — Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

Six years ago, the 1st street festival drew 27 participants, and a few hundred people.

This time, 54 establishments have signed on. A crowd of more than 2,000 is expected to stroll the streets, nibble food, listen to live music at 6 venues, and enjoy kid and family activities like an obstacle course, bouncy houses and Maker Faire area.

The list of attractions includes 31 restaurants and 23 merchants. They’ll put tables outside, open their doors, then let the fun begin.

Slice of Saugatuck also boasts 2 beer gardens with wine), and specialty drinks at many venues. After the festival, a Saugatuck Happy Hour keeps the celebration going.

The “Slice” name comes from the street fair’s shape. Ranging from Riverside Avenue on one side and Saugatuck Avenue on the other, narrowing to Railroad Place, it resembles a pizza slice.

Of course, for many years Saugatuck was a heavily Italian neighborhood. There are still plenty of premier pasta-and-pizza places there — along with restaurants specializing in seafood, steaks, Mexican and Thai cuisine and more.

But you know that already. Saugatuck is a favorite destination for Westporters, and everyone else in Fairfield County.

It’s a little slice of heaven, right here in town.

(Tickets for the Slice of Saugatuck — $15 per adult; 2 for $25; children under 13, $5 — go on sale on-site at 1:50 p.m. the day of the event; cash only. Proceeds help fund the Gillespie Center’s food pantry. The Slice is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. For more information, including a map and list of participants, click here.)

 

Slicing Up Saugatuck

Today was hot and humid. But it’s never too hot for Saugatuck’s great Italian food, from places like Tutti’s and Tarantino’s.

Or Mexican (Viva’s, Cuatro Hermanos), Thai (Rainbow) or Japanese (Kawa Ni).

Every restaurant — including Dunkin’ Donuts — was represented at this afternoon’s Slice of Saugatuck.

So were stores, ranging from liquor (99 Bottles) to sports (Attic) to my favorite — not just in Saugatuck but all of Westport (Indulge by Mersene).

The 5th annual event was sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. Funds benefit the Gillespie Center food pantry. Slice is nice!

The line to sample Julian's pizza ran past Parker Mansion.

The line to sample Julian’s pizza ran past Parker Mansion.

Tutti's served up -- among other favorites -- spicy chicken.

Tutti’s served up — among other favorites — a tasty chicken dish.

Al DiGuido's Saugatuck Sweets scooped ice cream, on the plaza.

Al DiGuido’s Saugatuck Sweets scooped ice cream, on the plaza.

Things were quieter on the river, where Downunder offered kayaks.

Things were quieter on the river, where Downunder offered kayaks.

Bands -- rock, acoustic, even Caribbean -- played throughout Saugatuck. This group had a prime spot, at Bridge Square.

Bands — rock, acoustic, even Caribbean — played throughout Saugatuck. This group had a prime spot, at Bridge Square.

First Selectman Jim Marpe and his wife Mary Ellen hung out at the Black Duck.

First Selectman Jim Marpe and his wife Mary Ellen hung out at the Black Duck.

Cuatro Hermanos added a sombrero their rice and beans.

Cuatro Hermanos added a sombrero to their rice and beans.

A tae kwan do demonstration livened up Railroad Place. Shattered boards lie on the left.

A tae kwan do demonstration enlivened Railroad Place. Shattered boards lie on the left.

Slice Is Nice!

Every year — with new shops and new residents joining established stores and longtime residents — Saugatuck gets better than ever.

You can say the same about Slice of Saugatuck.

The 5th annual event — set for Saturday, September 10 (2 to 5 p.m.) — is already one of the street fair highlights on the Westport calendar. A few tweaks this year will make it the best one yet.

The sponsors — the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — has added beer gardens on Bridge Street and Railroad Place. A later start time allows restaurants to offer happy hour for food and drinks after the festival.

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place -- and everywhere else -- Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place — and everywhere else — Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

Speaking of Railroad Place: Every business there is participating this year. All told, nearly 50 restaurants and merchants will open their doors (or put food samples and wares out on the sidewalk).

New music at 6 venues will rock the Slice — including high school bands promoting a fundraiser for Toquet Hall.

Slice of Saugatuck — a fun combination of food tasting and retail experiencing — draws over 2,000 people a year. They wander the narrow streets of this vibrant neighborhood, visiting favorite restaurants and stores and discovering new gems.

The Slice is a kids’ delight too, with an obstacle course, bouncy houses, a climbing wall, balloon bender, dance demonstrations and a Maker Faire area.

What kid doesn't like getting in a fire truck?

What kid doesn’t like getting in a fire truck?

There’s a $10 admission fee ($5 for kids) — but funds go back to the Gillespie Center food pantry. So far, over $14,000 has been raised.

“Slice” refers to both the physical boundaries of Saugatuck — it looks like a pizza serving — and the area’s many Italian restaurants.

Pizza can be served both traditionally, and in new, creative ways.

You can say the same about Slice of Saugatuck.

(For more information, and to see participants and a “Slice of Saugatuck” map, click here.)


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Slicing Through Saugatuck

You never realize how many restaurants are in Saugatuck — until they start giving away free* food.

Viva’s, Julian’s, Rizzuto’s, Tutti’s; the Whelk, the Duck, Rainbow Thai and Tarry Lodge — all those and more handed out their specialties at today’s Slice of Saugatuck.

Add in Saugatuck Sweets, Garelick & Herbs, Craft Butchery — plus Dunkin’ Donuts and the Mobil Mini-Mart — and it’s a good thing there was lots of walking.

Today’s Slice also featured musical bands of kids and kids-at-heart; a steel band and calypso band (different spots); a bouncy house, and much more.

The only party poopers were a couple of restaurants that opted not to participate. And the private parking lot across from Dunville’s was completely closed, even though most tenants have fled.

That’s okay. We can deal. And if you’re reading this before 3 p.m. Saturday, stop! You’ve still got time for the Slice. It runs until then.

PS: Bands play at Luciano Park until 5.

*With the purchase of a $10 ticket.

Tutti's went all out -- and had some of the longest lines.

Tutti’s went all out to offer great food.

The band Forester traveled from Bethany to play.

The band Forester traveled from Bethany to play on the plaza.

What kid doesn't like getting in a fire truck?

What kid doesn’t like getting in a fire truck?

Harvest does not take over the old Mario's spot until late October. But they were at the Slice of Saugatuck too.

Harvest does not take over the old Mario’s spot until late October. But they were at the Slice of Saugatuck too.

Downunder offers kayak rides. The boat cruising up the Saugatuck River may or may not have been part of the Slice.

Downunder offers kayak rides. The boat cruising up the Saugatuck River may or may not have been heading to the Slice.

Tarry Lodge was big on desserts.

Tarry Lodge was big on faro salad.

A young visitors checks off every restaurant she visited.

A young visitor checks off every restaurant she visited.

Super Slice Of Saugatuck Set For Saturday

Bordered by a river, train tracks and I-95, Saugatuck can’t get much bigger.

But it keeps growing. New apartments, restaurants and businesses make Westport’s original center — and “2nd downtown” — livelier than ever.

Slice of Saugatuck grows each year too. The 4th annual edition — set for Saturday (September 12, noon-3 p.m.) — is the biggest yet.

Slice of SaugatuckMore merchants than ever — 44 — are participating. Over 2 dozen eateries will offer food and/or drinks; other shops will show off their wares. There’s a new mini-Maker Space, drones, obstacle courses and more, along with 7 musical groups (and the fire station’s traditional open house).

Plus — once the Slice ends — a free concert, with 2 “Sweet Sounds o’ Summer” bands playing in Luciano Park (3 and 5 p.m.).

It’s a triple win for Westport, says Chamber of Commerce executive director Matthew Mandell, who created the 1st Slice of Saugatuck in 2011.

It promotes Saugatuck merchants and the area. It gives the community a great event. And it raises money for the homeless and hungry.

The Homes With Hope Gillespie Food Pantry is again the beneficiary. They received $10,000 in proceeds from the past 2 festivals.

Slice of Saugatuck tickets are $10 per adult, $5 for children 6-12 (available on site). Any way you slice it, that’s a bargain!

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place -- and everywhere else -- Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place — and everywhere else — Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

Slice Is Nice!

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 1 of many Saugatuck restaurants dishing out some of its most popular items. Lines formed instantly, and stayed long.

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.

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 parking lot.

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.

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.

Downunder was busy all day, offering kayak and paddleboard rides. Nearby, boat owners tied up at the dock.

 

Slice On Sunday

Westport’s newest tradition — Slice of Saugatuck — returns Sunday afternoon.

That’s right: Sunday. The first 2 Slices were held on Saturdays. But this one’s set for 1-4 p.m., this Sunday (September 14).

Slice of SaugatuckFor a mere $10 (just $5 for kids 6-12), you can wander up and down Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Saugatuck Avenue. More restaurants than you ever knew were down there will offer food. Other businesses will hand out coupons, gifts and anything else they dream up.

There are bands, street artists and a bouncy house. It’s the best street party since Saugatuck’s previous tradition, Festival Italiano.

See you at the Slice. On Sunday.

Any Way You Slice It…

Whatever goes around, comes around.

And on Sunday, September 14, a couple of thousand folks will go around and around in Saugatuck.

That’s the date for Slice of Saugatuck. All afternoon long, for just $10 ($5 for kids 6-12), people will wander up Riverside Avenue, along Railroad Place, and out Saugatuck Avenue. Every restaurant offers food; others businesses hand out coupons, gifts or anything else they want. There is bands, street artists and a bouncy house. It’s the best street party since, well, Festival Italiano.

The Slice of Saugatuck drew huge crowds in 2011 and 2012. (Photo by Terry Cosgrave)

The Slice of Saugatuck drew huge crowds in 2011 and 2012. (Photo by Terry Cosgrave)

It’s the 3rd “Slice” in 4 years, and that’s what the “goes around, comes around” line is all about.

RTM representative Matthew Mandell created the festival back in 2011. After 2 wildly successful years, he handed it off to the Chamber of Commerce. But the director did not see the benefit — for either the Chamber or the merchants — and last year the Slice was iced.

Now the Chamber of Commerce has a new executive director: Mandell. One of his 1st moves was to serve up the Slice.

Nice.

Saugatuck has always been about food. The Slice of Saugatuck festival is too.

Saugatuck has always been about food. The Slice of Saugatuck festival is too.

“It’s a quadruple win for the town,” Mandell explains.

“One, it brings people to Saugatuck, and promotes the merchants and the area.

“Two, it’s a fantastic community event. It’s great for people-watching, and it brings everyone together.”

“Three, it raises money for the homeless and hungry. The Homes With Hope Gillespie Food Pantry received $5,000 from the 2012 proceeds, and once again they’re our beneficiary.

“Four, we hire Homes with Hope residents to work at the festival.”

Slice of Saugatuck is not just about food. In 2012, free kayaks brought plenty of people to Downunder's riverside dock.

Slice of Saugatuck is not just about food. In 2012, free kayaks brought plenty of people to Downunder’s riverside dock.

Mandell seems to have thought of everything. Including — 4 years ago — the perfect name.

“Saugatuck is shaped like a slice of pizza,” he says. (It is, if you consider its boundaries to be the train station at one end, and the intersection of Riverside and Saugatuck Avenues the other.)

For many years, of course, Saugatuck was a thriving Italian neighborhood. There are still restaurants like Tutti’s and Julian’s, and quasi-Italian spots like
Tarry Lodge and Rizzuto’s. Mario’s and Tarantino’s are long-time classics. Dunville’s, Mansion, Viva and the Duck are not Italian, but they’ve outlasted even some of the oldtimers.

Newcomers like The Whelk, Rainbow Thai and Saugatuck Sweets — plus merchants like Downunder — have brought new life to the old area. So there will be plenty more free food than pizza available at the Slice.

Though I’m betting those slices will go real fast.

Matt Mandell: Chamber’s New Chief — And Cheerleader

When Matthew Mandell told his wife he’d been offered the position of executive director and president of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce, her reaction was quick:

“Well, now you’ll get paid for doing what you’ve been doing all along.”

She’s right. Mandell — who began his new job last week — has served Westport in many capacities for years.

Matthew Mandell

Matthew Mandell

He’s a 5-term RTM member, chairing its Planning and Zoning Committee and serving on 5 others. He helped save the 22-acre Partrick Wetlands, along with 11 acres adjacent to Hiawatha Lane and 6 acres at the White Barn Theatre.

He championed the movement of the Kemper-Gunn House from Elm Street to the Baldwin parking lot; preservation of the building next to Terrain, and is working now to save the Geiger’s barn. He’s an Earthplace trustee, too.

Mandell also helped found Slice of Saugatuck. In fact, his work on that food-and-fun festival was a major reason the Chamber sought him out when they needed a new leader — for the 3rd time in 2 years.

After its 1st 2 wildly successful runs — organized entirely by volunteers — the Chamber offered to take over the event. But they dropped the ball last fall. So Chamber officials asked to meet with Mandell.

He thought they were talking about how to make the next Slice work. They were interviewing him for a job.

The Slice of Saugatuck drew huge crowds, thanks in large part to Matthew Mandell's hard work. (Photo by Terry Cosgrave)

The Slice of Saugatuck drew huge crowds, thanks in large part to Matthew Mandell’s hard work. (Photo by Terry Cosgrave)

The Chamber wanted Mandell because of his great track record promoting businesses and jobs in Westport. It’s a town he’s known since 1972, lived in part-time since 1987, and moved to permanently in 2005.

Mandell first came here as a summer resident, with his mother. He attended Indian Walk Day Camp — and, through a former fellow camper, met a woman 14 years later who eventually became his wife.

The Mandells weekended here for over a decade, before buying a home on Ferry Lane East. That’s a short walk over the little-known railroad pedestrian bridge from Saugatuck, which Mandell quickly discovered has great history and neighborhood charm.

As Saugatuck boomed, Mandell became one of its biggest boosters. That brought him to the Chamber’s attention, and led eventually to his new post.

The director is blunt about the Chamber’s past few years. It’s been in Westport since 1931, but recently slid toward irrelevancy.

Chamber of Commerce“We have to be more about community and interaction,” Mandell says. “Businesses will thrive because of that.

“We need to use the same model that worked for Slice of Saugatuck. If we bring people in, and they walk around and see what we’ve got, there will be a real sense of community.

“I don’t know what’s in half of the Post Road malls. But I know there are hidden gems there. We have to find them, and show them off.”

Mandell — who earned an MFA in film from New York University — will use video and social media much more than the Chamber did before.

“I’m not a businessman. I have no firm marketing background,” the new director admits. “But I do know how to advocate, and get people out.”

He was also the New York state champion debater in high school. “My wife says I can talk to anybody,” Mandell notes.

He embraces the challenges ahead. “People think the Chamber of Commerce is stodgy,” he says. “We have to give them people information so they think of us as more modern, as an important part of the community.”

His goal in his new role is to make Westport “even better than it is. The Chamber needs to be a cheerleader for the town — not just its businesses, but its residents too. If we achieve that, we’ll all thrive as a result.”