Tag Archives: Splash restaurant

New Pearl Splashes Into Longshore

A pearl is a beautiful jewel.

Longshore is one of Westport’s crown jewels.

So it’s particularly fitting that Pearl is the name of Longshore’s new restaurant. And that oysters and clams figure prominently on the menu.

Pearl at Longshore — the full name — opens officially tomorrow (Monday, February 22). But a soft opening last night showed that — more than a year after Splash closed — Westport’s dining and social scene have taken an impressive step forward.

A new entrance for a new restaurant.

A new entrance for a new restaurant.

Last night — in the beautiful new dining room, next to the handsome bar, as the wait staff bustled around — lead owner Marc Backon and his wife Lois described the long journey that transformed rundown Splash into a gorgeous Pearl.

It was Halloween, 2014. Dining at Tarantino, they learned from then-general manager Antonio Ninivaggi that after 18 years, Splash had shut its doors (and the adjacent, once-quite-popular Patio Bar). They were saddened. They’d eaten there often, and both daughters’ 1st jobs were at Splash.

It was not an immediate “let’s do it!” moment. Yet gradually the Backons decided to give Westport back its waterfront gem.

They had no background in restaurants. But Marc has a long career in business, Lois is in banking — and they are smart, committed Westporters.

Slowly, they put together a group of 25 or so investors, mostly from here. The list also included Ninivaggi (who had moved on to Osianna in Fairfield). They hired a crack design team, led by Bilal Barakat, and renowned executive chef Michael Hazen (Bartaco, Barcelona).

The stunning bar is made from recycled glass. Behind it is recycled wood.

The stunning bar is made from recycled glass. Behind it is recycled wood.

The journey was tough. The building — including the kitchen and food storage areas — had deteriorated significantly. A couple of deadlines were missed.

But the wait was worth it. With seating for 55 inside, 70 outside and 18 at the bar; chic, contemporary decor that includes paintings by local artists and a display with Robin Tauck’s Sherwood Mill Pond books, plus a menu that ranges from locally raised oysters to boar, it’s bound to create Westport’s newest buzz.

Locally harvested Hummock Island oysters are a special treat.

Locally harvested Hummock Island oysters are a special treat.

The patio is not yet finished. That’s okay. It will be ready this summer.

Hey, it takes 3 to 7 years for an oyster to produce a perfect pearl.

This one is ready after just 1.

The town of Westport owns the Pearl at Longshore property, and rents it to operators. Among the diners at last night's soft opening were 2 town officials who helped oversee the renovation from Splash to Pearl were (far left) former Parks and Recreation chair Steve Haberstroh, and (right) 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

The town of Westport owns the Pearl at Longshore property, and rents it to operators. Among the diners at last night’s soft opening were 3 town officials who helped oversee the renovation from Splash to Pearl: (far left) Parks and Recreation chair Charlie Haberstroh, (near left) Parks and Rec director Jennifer Fava, and (right) 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

(Pearl at Longshore will be open 7 days a week starting tomorrow [Monday, February 22] for dinner only. Lunch — and a golfers’ menu — will be added later.)

In summer, the view of Long Island Sound will be spectacular. In winter, the Longshore Skating Rink shimmered in the background.

In summer, the view of Long Island Sound will be spectacular. Last night, the Longshore Skating Rink shimmered in the background.

Longshore Restaurant Reopens In February

Slow winters helped drive Splash — the long-running Longshore restaurant — out of business.

Pearl at Longshore — the new spot taking its place — hopes to do better. They’re even starting with a wintertime crowd.

Owners Marc Backon, Antonio Ninivaggi and their local investors announced this afternoon they’ll open in February.

The new Pearl of Longshore restaurant opens in February. Disregard this August view of Splash.

The new Pearl of Longshore restaurant opens in February. Disregard this August view of Splash.

They’ve spent months restoring the interior — and kitchen. Executive chef Michael Hazen will serve “sophisticated, seasonally inspired American cuisine” that focuses on “the simplicity and flavors of the ingredients.”

Pearl will offer traditional seafood dishes, grass-fed beef and seasonal produce, with organic, healthy and gluten-free selections. The bar includes craft and micro-brew beers. “Pearl in a Box” is the name of their takeout menu.

Designer Bilal Barakat has “captured the spirit and history of Longshore, and infused it with a rustic chic and cosmopolitan feel.”

Sounds like big changes are ahead for Longshore diners.

But the new owners were smart to leave one thing alone: the view.

Even in February, it’s spectacular.

A Tale Of 2 Restaurants

Westport’s Splash-less summer is nearing an end. The waterside restaurant at Longshore — and its very popular patio bar — closed last winter.

A new tenant — Pearl of Longshore — is leasing space from the town. But renovations are going slowly.

Very slowly.

As in, making the North Avenue/Merritt Parkway bridge project look like warp speed.

The steps to Splash, and the Inn at Longshore.

The steps to Splash.

Today, for example, no one was working.

The target date of December probably won’t be met.

And if the current pace proceeds, we may be looking at a 2nd Splash-less summer next year.

The scene today inside Splash...

The scene today inside Splash, after the entire summer…

...and outdoors.

…and outdoors.

Meanwhile, a full crew has been hard at work in Saugatuck.

They’re transforming the venerable Mansion Clam House into a very good looking Parker Steak House.

A new look for an old building.

A new look for an old building.

Sheetrocking is set for this week. They seem confident they’ll be done in 2 months.

A full crew working at Parker Steak House.

A full crew working at Parker Steak House.

The new interior features a handsome cathedral ceiling.

The new interior features a handsome cathedral ceiling.

When the workers are done at Parker Steak House, perhaps they can head over the river. A new job is waiting.

Looking To Make A Splash

Splash — the much-loved Longshore restaurant/patio bar — closed recently. Off-season business at its off-the-beaten-path location was not strong enough to make up for the summertime gold rush.

It’s now on the market. And — according to commercial realtor Skip Lane of Cushman & Wakefield — a top-notch restaurant operator ought to make a great go of it.

Splash restaurant

Splash restaurant

“It’s a fabulous location,” Lane says. He’s right: The handsome building shares space with an inn, sits smack in the middle of a golf course, fronts a postcard-perfect waterfront, and is steps away from tennis and paddle courts, a pool and skating rink.

Lane says one key is for the new owner to work more closely with all the non-summer activity (including that skating rink, and cross country skiing).

Interested in making a new splash at Longshore? Contact Lane: 203-326-5892.

Arrividerci, Positano

Tomorrow is Positano’s last day at its current location: Old Mill Beach, on Hillspoint Road. Sometime in 2015 it will move into the former Dressing Room, next to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Positanos 2 - Fred Cantor

The current Positano property has already been sold. One rumor is that the new owners plan to tear it down, and construct a (big) home there.

Another rumor is that some nearby neighbors would like to buy those owners out, and bring in a new restaurant.

If that doesn’t happen, our town — which loves the water — will be left with only 1 beachfront restaurant: Splash.

Or 2, counting Joey’s.

(Photos/Fred Cantor)

(Photos/Fred Cantor)

The Last Splash?

Earlier this month, “06880” reported that Positano’s — the restaurant at Old Mill — will be sold to a Greenwich developer. It will probably be torn down, and be rebuilt as a private home.

But word on the street — and the beach — is that’s it’s not the only waterfront restaurant in Westport set to close.

Splash’s demise has been rumored for several weeks.

Last night, an “06880” reader dined at the Longshore spot. Here’s her report:

Last night we had a very unfortunate evening at Splash. I think we may be seeing the beginning of the end for this beautiful Westport spot. Service was slow, but this was exceptional. One family stood up to leave because their meal hadn’t come. We were told that the majority of the staff walked out and they haven’t been paid for weeks.

Can you find out what’s going on? Imagine if we lose Splash?

“06880” will keep on this story. In the meantime: If you hear something, say something.

Will Splash live to see another Christmas?

Will Splash live to see another Christmas?