Word on the street — Charles Street — is that Mystic Market opens next month.
Some folks will describe it as the old Blu Parrot spot. Others — with longer memories — will say it’s where Jasmine was.
But real old-timers know it — and will never forget — the site as the beloved Arrow restaurant.
For a couple of decades — after its move from the nearby Saugatuck Avenue/Franklin Street location that gave it its name — the Arrow defined the neighborhood.
And made its mark on all of Westport.
Here’s a look back, at the way we all were.
Owner Frank Nistico
Owner Tom Nistico, back in the day.
Lou Nistico, son of the founders of the Arrow.
FRIDAY FLASHBACK FUN FOLLOW-UP: Last week’s Friday Flashback featured a 1946 photo of Marie Corridon on the Longshore high diving board.
It was a great shot (click here to see). Now comes word — via alert “06880” reader Chris Corridon — that Maria was not your casual, Sunday diver.
Turns out her family lived in Norwalk, and were members of Longshore. She learned to swim at the then-private club — and went on to win a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics in London!
Marie was the lead swimmer for the champion, Olympic record-setting US team in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.
She is a member of the swimming Hall of Fame. Her 7 children all participated in Division I athletics. The girls all swam, and are active Masters swimming record holders. One — Sheila Stolarski — is a Weston resident. Several of her grandchildren swim competitively too, in high school and college.
For decades, no one thought about the Longshore lighthouse.
Yesterday, I published a photo of it as part of “06880’s” Friday Flashback series.
I had no idea that Westporters Dick Stein and Tracy Hinson had just offered an oil painting of that same scene to the town, as a gift.
Dick told official curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz that he found the painting behind an upstairs desk at last year’s Red Barn tag sale. Owner Tommy Nistico asked Dick if he knew where the lighthouse had been located. Dick remembered it instantly from his youth.
The painting — by artist Harriet Horowitz, who moved from Westport in 1972 — was dusty and dirty. But Dick bought it, hoping it would one day hang in the Parks and Recreation Department office — at Longshore.
He had it cleaned and lightly repaired. Now he’s given it to the town.
That’s a great story. But there’s one more part.
According to alert “06880” reader Peter Barlow — who sent the lighthouse photo along for the “Friday Flashback” — in the late 1960s a popular Parks and Recreation Commission official ordered the demolition of the lighthouse.
Years later, he admitted it had been a mistake.
The commission member’s name?
Lou Nistico — father uncle of Red Barn owner Tom Nistico, who sold the lighthouse painting to Dick Stein.
Two years ago, someone started an “Arrow Restaurant” page on Facebook. It was a place for fans of the famed Saugatuck eatery to gather virtually, and share very real memories of the food and folks they loved so long and so well.
Lou Nistico, son of the founders of the Arrow.
Tom Nistico — grandson of the founders — still does not know who created the page. But he loves it.
He’s even more excited about an event it spawned.
On Saturday, August 18 (6 p.m.), there’s an Arrow reunion. It’s open to all former employees and customers — anyone, really. It promises to be one of the highlights of the year.
It’s at the Red Barn, naturally — the restaurant Tom and his family saved and restored in 1983. The Wilton Road location is gorgeous — but on August 11, all eyes will be a few miles south.
The original location. The restaurant got its name from the “arrow” shape of the Saugatuck Avenue/Franklin Street intersection.
The original Arrow — started in 1932 — was located on the corner of Saugatuck Avenue and Franklin Street (there’s a Chinese takeout place there now).
The 2nd site — remembered by most Westporters — was around the corner on Charles Street. When the Arrow closed in 1991, Jasmine took over the site. Soon it will reopen as the Blu Parrot, featuring live music.
That’s a welcome addition to the revitalized Saugatuck community. But the old Arrow was old school — just like the neighborhood it served. The rest of Westport came along for the ride.
The longtime location on Charles Street.
The Facebook page brings the old Arrow back to life. “It’s amazing to see what it still means to everyone,” Tom Nistico marvels.
“I wish I had a video of a weekend night, so I could see again all the families and customers pouring through the doors. If you lived in Fairfield County, you probably became part of the fabric of the Arrow.”
Tom reels off the names of families that were customers for generations: Gargiulo, Cantor, Nevas, Sawch, Kaelin, Romano, Santella, Palizzio, Buccieri, Pascarelli, Massiello, Strauss, Caiati, Carbone, Luczkowski, McMahon, Spinola, Backus.
Many will be back for the reunion. “People are coming from everywhere,” Tom says proudly. “Eddie Gargiulo from Atlanta, and his brother Steve from Florida. Eddie and Sara Fuchs from Dallas. Billy Murphy from Boston. Cal Neff delayed his return to Thailand to be there.”
Tom Nistico, back in the day.
Corrado Nebel — son of longtime employee Dino, and a recording singer and guitarist — will perform.
As the music plays, dinner is eaten and drinks downed, the stories will flow. Former cooks, waiters, busboys, dishwashers — and the many customers who loved them — will trade tales of the Nistico family’s legendary generosity to (it seemed) every kid in town.
They’ll talk about 4th of July parties, and recall the countless celebrities (including most of the New York Giants) and regular Westporters who enjoyed good times and great meals.
Like sausage and peppers. Chicken picatta, francaise and cacciatore. Lasagna with baked egg. “Tommy toss.” Pork chops with cherry peppers. Clams casino. Eggplant parm. Fried mozzarella. Meatballs…
(In typical Arrow fashion, the August 18 reunion is a steal for good food and good times. The $45 cost includes a full meal — appetizers, dinner, dessert, tax and tip. There’s also a cash bar. Call the Red Barn at 203-222-9549, or email Tom Nistico at firstname.lastname@example.org for a reservation.)
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