Six years ago, Bill Taibe opened Le Farm.
Encouraged by the success of Michel Nischan and The Dressing Room, the noted chef saw in the narrow Colonial Green space a chance to open his own seasonal, locally sourced restaurant in a town he felt would support the concept.
Westport did. From the time it opened, Le Farm was busy and vibrant.
But after a few years, Taibe was no longer its working chef. He opened The Whelk, featuring sustainable seafood and local produce in the newly developed Saugatuck Center.
An immediate success, that spawned Taibe’s 3rd restaurant: Kawa Ni, a creative Japanese-fusion place around the corner, in Bridge Square.
Now Taibe is back to only 2 Westport restaurants. Despite its success, he closed Le Farm. He felt he’d reached his goals there, and now wants to serve more people than he could in just an 850-square-foot space. He has embraced the title of “restaurateur.”
“I’m 40 years old,” he says. “I started working in a butcher shop at 16, and in restaurants at 20. I find great joy in finding great chefs. These days, I’m more of a ‘creative director.’ Le Farm no longer fit in that plan.”
He did not just dump the spot, though. He sold it to Brian Lewis, an excellent chef at Elm in New Canaan, who had been looking for his own restaurant.
“He’s super-talented, and sources his food well,” Taibe says. Lewis will open a new restaurant there in mid- to late-November.
It will be “a cool, casual incarnation” of the space, Taibe adds. “He may add more of a bar.”
It won’t be called Le Farm., though. Taibe retains rights to that name.
“There were lots of tears when I told the staff and customers,” Taibe says of the closing. “It’s a special place, and it’s important to a lot of people.”
Meanwhile, he’s on a hunt for his next — and bigger — Westport property.