Tag Archives: Spotted Horse

Officials Okay Outdoor Dining+

Two years ago, in the early days of the pandemic, indoor dining was banned. Restaurants grew desperate.

Moving with unprecedented speed, town officials okayed outdoor dining in areas like Church Lane and Railroad Place.

It was such a hit, they allowed it again last summer.

Now it’s back for a third year. And it will continue for at least 2 more after that.

Outdoor dining on Church Lane. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Last week, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 6-1 in favor of a text amendment that gives even more space to outdoor tables and chairs. The previous allotment was 25% of a restaurant’s indoor space. It’s now 75%.

Restaurants can also use a neighbor’s property, with permission.

The Board of Selectwomen gave their okay too. And rather than go through the process every year, they extended approval through 2024.

Maxx Crowley — president of the Westport Downtown Association — is thrilled.

“Church Lane is a key piece of downtown,” he says, referring to the short road that — closed to traffic — has turned into a street festival. Spotted Horse, Manna Toast and Pink Sumo serve al fresco; bands play, and everyone strolls.

Musicians play …

“There’s a real sense of community” when cars are banned, Crowley says. “There’s excitement and life, especially at night.”

And, Crowley notes, it’s not only restaurant owners who benefit. “People sit or walk, they see all the shops, and they want to go in and explore. Walkability is the key to retail.”

… and so do little kids. (Photo/Jordan Schur)

Church Lane’s closure will last through November 6.

Saugatuck — Westport’s “other” downtown — is another hot spot for outdoor dining. The Selectwomen approved the continued use of parking spots by Romanacci’s and Tarantino. Two nearby restaurants may also apply.

Outdoor dining is here to stay. It’s one of our town’s newest, and most popular, traditions.

Now all we need is the weather to enjoy it.

Romanacci’s outdoor dining, It’s since moved several yards east.

Unsung Heroes #217

Grateful — and surprised — “06880” reader Gina Ryan writes:

I had the most wonderful surprise tonight. I was having dinner by myself at Spotted Horse in Westport, when my server informed me that my entire tab was taken care of by another patron of the restaurant.

I sent my thanks — only to find out that the person had already left. The server told me it was a Terri Priori (if I understood the name correctly).

It meant a lot to me. This week has been challenging. We had Thanksgiving 4 days earlier, on Sunday, because my 3 young granddaughters would d be going away to spend holiday weekend with their father. My paramedic son and ER daughter-in-law were working on Thanksgiving. I had a quiet day, but relished the long phone calls I had with a son, daughter, brother, and sister.

I was feeling kind of down on Black Friday. I went to the movies, window shopped on Main Street, read for a while at the library, then went to the Spotted Horse for dinner before going home to an empty house.

My spirits were lifted by the kindness of the person who noticed me, and decided to gift me with dinner. I usually perceive myself as being invisible, so I was shocked at the generosity.

I would like my benefactor to know that I am giving an amount equal to my tab to Homes with Hope. I am truly grateful to live in this kind and generous community.

Gina, your benefactor is an Unsung Hero this week. But so are you — for paying it forward so thoughtfully. Now, if every “06880” reader could do the same: what a wonderful Westport this would be!

Roundup: Pre-Henri Edition

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Being proactive here: In the event of a power outage, “06880” may need a temporary home. If any reader has a generator and space where I can work, please email: dwoog@optonline.net. All options are gratefully accepted!

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As summer winds down, the Westport Garden Club found a perfect spot for its #FridayFlowers arrangement: the lifeguard shack at Compo Beach.

Those guys (and girls) definitely deserve the love!

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When the 2020 (’21) Paralympic Games begin Tuesday in Tokyo, Westporters should pay attention to swimmer Matthew Torres.

The 20-year-old Fairfield University sophomore — born without part of his right leg and missing all but one toe on his left foot, along with curvature of his hands — will compete in the 100 and 400 meter freestyle, and 100 meter backstroke.

He’s a proud alum of the Westport Weston Family YMCA Water Rats program — and winner of the 200 individual medley at the 2019 World Para Swimming World Series.

Go get ’em, Matthew. And congrats to the Water Rats, who helped get him there!

Matthew Torres

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The Westport Police Benevolent Association Car Cruise scheduled for today (Saturday), has been canceled due to weather concerns. The new date is October 2 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

Westport PBA car rally

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All 3 sailors from Longshore Sailing School’s week-long regatta in honor of the late Doug Sheffer are Staples High School students. In the photo below, winner James Russell is flanked by second place finisher Annabelle Lott, and bronze medalist Alex St. Andre.

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Who knows what Henri will bring?

But even as the clouds rolled in, there were few worries last night at Compo Beach:

(Photo/Alina Pitchon)

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

(Photo/Dorothy Robertshaw)

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In addition to the beach, Westporters flocked last night to Jazz at MoCA, featuring Samara Joy and the Pasquale Grasso trio ,,,

(Photo/JC Martin)

… and more music at the Levitt Pavilion, with Lizzie No. She was spellbinding, and her friend Amy Irving joined her for a “Cecilia” duet …

(Photo/JC Martin)

… and of course outdoor dining, on Church Lane and elsewhere in town.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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“Tiny jumpers” is the way Molly Alger describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … in honor of Henri:

Pics Of The Day #1202

Church Lane will be closed from Elm Street to the Post Road, through the end of August.

That gives pedestrians more room — and restaurants like Spotted Horse, Manna Toast and Amis the chance to put tables in the street.

To kick off the new look, the Busted Chops band played funk and soul tonight.

It was just the way developers envisioned the area to look, a few years ago.

Without, of course, the masks and hand sanitizers.

(Photos/Dan Woog)

Pic Of The Day #790

Westport is decked out in purple, for Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Week. Through Saturday, Tavern on Main features a violet gin cocktail; LaRouge by Aarti handmade chocolates is donating 10% of sales of purple hand-painted chocolates to Alzheimer’s Connecticut, and Spotted Horse will donate 20% of sales on Thursday, while featuring a specialty Purple People Eater cocktail.

(Photo/Marcy Sansolo)

“Supper And Soul” Returns Soon

It’s not New Orleans, where music follows you from restaurants and clubs all the way down the street.

And it’s not Italy, where strolling musicians entertain you as you dine.

But every couple of months, Westport comes close.

That’s when the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce sponsors the unique 3-part “Supper and Soul” series. A $75 ticket covers a 3-course meal at one of 5 downtown restaurants; a concert at Seabury Center, and happy hour pricing for post-concert drinks at any of those 5 places.

The first “Supper and Soul” took place in January. It was a cold night, but the enthusiastic crowd was warmed by the concept, the restaurant hosts and the music.

The next “Supper and Soul” is Saturday, April 28. The headliner is Vanessa Collier, a blues performer known for her charm, passion, soulful voice and searing sax solos.

For the past year Vanessa has toured Europe as a featured artist with Ruf’s Blues Caravan, and North America with her 5-piece band.

The 5 restaurants are 190 Main, Amis, Rothbard Ale + Larder, Spotted Horse and Tavern on Main. Each is an easy walk from Seabury Center.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. The concert follows at 8.

Tickets are bought online through the Chamber; reservations follow, on a first-come, first-served basis (also through the Chamber). Drinks and tips are not included in the ticket price.

For tickets and more information, click here.

Kids Eat Free! (Well, Okay, 10% Off)

On the one hand, Westport teenagers always complain “there’s nothing to do here!”

On the other hand, they love to eat.

In an effort to convince hungry kids that there are things to do in Westport — like, go to a variety of local restaurants — the Youth Commission has created a Student Discount Partnership.

Working with the Downtown Merchants Association and Chamber of Commerce, commission members have signed nearly 30 restaurants (and 2 businesses: Suited.co and Lux Bond & Green). They offer 10% off for Staples, Weston High and Greens Farms Academy students presenting a school ID. Only 2 places said no.

Participating locations sport a sticker. The eye-catching Minuteman design was created by Staples senior Julia Schorr. Baker Graphics printed 70, for free.

Student discount sticker

The program began just a couple of weeks ago, with low-key publicity. But participation — and feedback — has been great. Oscar’s, for example, has seen a definite bump in business, from groups of teens.

Oscar's owner Lee Papageorge gives thumb's-up to the Youth Commission's Student Discount Program.

Oscar’s owner Lee Papageorge gives thumb’s-up to the Youth Commission’s Student Discount Partnership.

A girl reported that she and her friends had a great time at Spotted Horse. They gave everyone a discount, even though a couple of kids forgot their student IDs.

Outside the Spotted Horse, with student IDs from Staples, Weston and Greens Farms Academy.

Outside Spotted Horse, with student IDs from Staples, Weston and Greens Farms Academy.

“We wanted to concentrate on home-owned places, where kids could have an impact,” says Youth Commission member Reece Schachne, discussing why members selected restaurants instead of chain stores.

Publicity has come mainly through Instagram (“wycstudentdiscounts” is the handle). Youth Commission co-chair Kyle Ratner is helping coordinate an official launch this week, with announcements on the “Good Morning Staples” TV show, a story in the school newspaper Inklings, and the website westportyouthcommission.org (launching February 9).

You’re probably wondering: Why do Westport students need a discount for anything?

Lower prices are not the main aim, Reece and Kyle say. It’s more about making sure teenagers know they have plenty of things to do, and many places to do it, all around Westport.

Especially if it involves food.

(For more information, click here. Participants in the program include 323, Acqua, Angelina’s, Arezzo, Bartaco, Black Duck, Blue Lemon, Border Grill, Da Pietro’s, Finalmente, Freshii, Garelick & Herbs, Jeera Little Thai Kitchen, Joe’s Pizza, Lux Bond & Green, Mumbai Times, Oscar’s, Planet Pizza, Rizzuto’s, Señor Salsa, SoNo Baking Company, Spotted Horse, Suited.Co, Sweet Frog, The Boathouse, Tutti’s, Villa del Sol, Viva Zapata and Westport Pizzeria. Any restaurant or business interested in joining the program should email kyle.ratner1@gmail.com or matthew@westportwestonchamber.com)

Java Heats Up Downtown

Not to be outdone by the recent Saugatuck Center redevelopment, downtown is perking up too.

Freshii — offering healthy salads, wraps, burritos and rice bowls — just opened next to Starbucks, in the Parker Harding lot.

And Starbucks itself will soon face competition. Java Coffee & Cafe — offering the “highest quality, custom roasted free trade and/or certified organic” joe;  all-natural loose leaf teas and tisanes; a breakfast menu (with 9 varieties of muffins!) and lunches like salads — is taking shape on Church Lane.

Java Coffee & Cafe (Photo/PJ Vellotti)

Java Coffee & Cafe (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The same crew that turned the nearby dilapidated Sherwood house into the handsome Spotted Horse restaurant has transformed the drab-looking Wild Pear restaurant (and before that, Chef’s Table).

Gone are the front steps, and narrow entry. Plentiful windows promise people-watching, which has made Spotted Horse so popular. The entire facade is warm, inviting — and fits so handsomely with the rest of the street.

Java’s motto is “Wake Up and Live.” When it opens soon, it will wake up its own little corner of downtown.

Little Barn Rises In Westport

First it was Dairy Queen — a once-cool high school hangout that faded over time.

Then it was Woody’s, a diner that never caught on. And Swanky Frank’s — not to be confused with its Norwalk “cousin.” And never as popular.

Since Swanky closed in June, Westporters have watched its transformation. And wondered what comes next.

The answer: The Little Barn.

Co-owners Scott  Beck and Kevin McHugh — native Westporters — are a month away from opening. Their goal is to be ready before the holidays start.

The Little Barn nears completion.

The Little Barn nears completion.

“Since Kevin sold his shares in The Little Pub in Ridgefield,” we’ve been looking for a great spot to put in a new pub concept,” Scott says.

When they heard Swanky Frank’s was available, they moved quickly.

“We loved the idea of redoing such an iconic building in Westport — particularly because we both grew up here, and spent so much time at DQ,” Scott says.

The cozy fireplace.

The cozy fireplace.

The project has been fun. They sourced materials for an “authentic look” from across the country. Now, they’re concentrating on the finishes.

The fireplaces are already in use.

The menu and ambiance is “casual and fun,” says Scott — “just like the concept: a pub in a barn.” The food will be classic pub and comfort food. That means burgers, fish and chips, steak frites, plus healthy options (“lots of salads”), tacos and wraps.

There’s a kids’ menu too.

Between them, Kevin and Scott co-own 4 other restaurants in Fairfield County: Match in SoNo, Grey Goose and The Chelsea in Fairfield, and the Spotted Horse in Westport.

Little Barn logoThe Horse sparked the recent — and continuing — Church Lane resurrection.

I’m not sure there will be new life along The Little Barn’s stretch of Post Road, between Arby’s and Fortuna’s. But Kevin and Scott have the magic touch.

I know the joint will be jumpin’.

(For the latest news on the opening date, check out The Little Barn’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/littlebarnct)

About That YMCA “Eno Path”

Last month, I posted a story about an odd plaque in the Westport Y.

Placed near the stairs by the pool, it honored the “William Phelps Eno Memorial Pedestrian Mall.” Inquiring minds wondered not who Eno was — every Westporter knows he’s the Westport businessman and traffic safety pioneer who “invented” the stop sign, pedestrian crosswalk, traffic circle, 1-way street, taxi stand and pedestrian safety island — but rather, what’s up with that “memorial pedestrian mall.”

Here’s a partial answer. It’s straight from Jay Sherwood. Yes, of the Sherwoods.

He says:

I grew up at 26 Church Lane (now the Spotted Horse). My bedroom faced the street, and the 3 homes across it.

35 Church Lane -- the Krellen house, now called the Gunn House --was just outside Jay Sherwood's bedroom window.

35 Church Lane — the Krellen house, now called the Gunn House –was just outside Jay Sherwood’s bedroom window.

At Elm and Church Lane was Mr. Krellen’s (sp?), home, which still stands. Next was the Lewis home. In the 1940s and ’50s it was occupied by Miss Lewis (who ran the Educational Toy Store, where Metro Swim later was) and her mother. Next to that was a home with a beauty salon on the 1st floor.

In those days I could peer between the Lewis and Krellen homes, and see the hills west of the Saugatuck (Old Hill section) until Klein’s Stationery built its addition.

The Y grew in size too. First to fall (late ’60s?) was the beauty salon. Then the Lewis home made way for the Weeks Pavilion in the late ’70s. There was supposed to be an outdoor walk from the parking lot off Elm Street to Church Lane. I remember an artist’s rendition of it. But next thing I knew, the “path” was inside the new building (which was built right up to the property line).

The William Phelps Eno plaque.

The William Phelps Eno plaque.

I do not know why there was a change in plans. Perhaps the owners of 35 Church Lane did not want an open public walkway so close to their property. Funny though:  Kids and even older folk always trespassed onto 35 Church, between Church Lane and the parking area in the rear. Either the “Y” was closed or they simply wanted to walk outside. They created havoc with the stone retaining wall. The problem continued until 35’s owners put up a fence along the parking area.