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Tag Archives: Villa del Sol
Villa del Sol has served its last margarita.
At its longtime Elm Street location, that is.
The popular downtown restaurant is moving to 170 Post Road West. The former site of Peachwave has been vacant for over 2 years.
David Waldman — developer of Bedford Square — is purchasing the Mexican restaurant, adjacent to his new complex. It’s part of a land swap. He’ll demolish the old Villa del Sol. In return, he’ll construct a retail/residential building across Elm Street, behind Lux Bond & Green.
(Hat tip: Steve Stein)
This morning’s “06880,” on the travails of Villa Del Sol during the construction phase of Bedford Square, noted that “a proposed land swap — exchanging the restaurant and adjacent parking lot for a parcel across the street — has been scuttled.”
However, despite reports in local media, that land swap is still very much alive.
Second Selectman Avi Kaner said this afternoon that the town has continued negotiations with David Waldman, developer of Bedford Square. That retail/residential project — on the site of the former YMCA — stretches along Church Street, with an entrance on Elm Street.
Kaner says the town and Waldman are close to an agreement on a deal. Details are unavailable. However, the original plan would have traded 36 Elm Street — the site of Villa del Sol — for a section of the town-owned Baldwin parking lot across the street. Waldman hoped to build an 8,477-square foot building behind Lux Bond & Green, with small retail stores and 4 apartments.
Under the original plan the town would demolish the Villa del Sol building, creating additional parking, walkways and greenery.
Kaner presented a status report at a Board of Finance executive session last week, and solicited negotiating advice.
Based on that discussion, he says, it is likely that the Elm Street/Baldwin lot land exchange will be discussed and voted on in an open public session, at the finance board’s April meeting.
Any decision would be subject to approval by other town bodies. The Planning & Zoning Commission has already given the swap a positive 8-24 review.
Nearly 2 years ago, I posted a story about Villa del Sol.
Bedford Square — the project to turn the old YMCA into a retail/residential/ restaurant complex — was just beginning. Rumors swirled that the popular downtown restaurant would close.
It didn’t. And — for almost 2 years — owners Jennifer and Colleen Osorio have battled construction debris, dust, dirt, noise, parking issues, even lack of access to part of their own building, while serving the margaritas, classic Mexican dishes and contemporary Nuevo Latino ones their customers love.
But now there are new rumors. People think that because a proposed land swap — exchanging the restaurant and adjacent parking lot for a parcel across the street — has been scuttled, the restaurant is shutting down.
It’s not. And — with 9 years left on a 10-year lease — Jennifer and Colleen say it won’t.
Yet getting the word out has been tough.
At least once a night, someone asks the sisters if it’s true. So in addition to all the work that goes with being a family-owned businesses — one of the very few left downtown — they have to fight the perception that they’re closing their doors.
Villa del Sol is quite a place. All the furnishings — tables, chairs, artwork — come direct from Mexico. Founder Joe Osorio made many trips south, bringing everything back piece by piece.
Joe’s daughters — Jennifer and Colleen — were always involved in the restaurant. He fought pancreatic cancer for 2 years, and worked until just 3 days before his death, in 2011. The 2 sisters then took over.
Their children all help out now too. A few days ago Jon Osorio was working, on a break from college. Jennifer’s husband, Fili Molina, has been the chef since opening day.
Jennifer and Colleen say that Bedford Square developer David Waldman — who does not own the restaurant building — has been understanding about their plight.
But, they say, their customers should not have to worry about where they’ll get their margaritas. Nor should the owners always have to explain, We’re open!
They’ve made it through the ups and downs of an uncertain economy. This is one more challenge.
Bedford Square opens this spring. They look forward to the traffic it will bring downtown.
“There have been a lot of great changes here,” Jennifer says. “But we’ve lost a lot of family businesses.
“We just want everyone to know this one is still here.”
As reported in March on “06880,” 36 Elm Street is the final key to creating an entirely new downtown streetscape. That’s where the Villa del Sol restaurant intrudes into the sidewalk next to the new Bedford Square retail/residential complex. And where an adjacent parking lot — near the back entrance to the old Y and the former Klein’s — is a poorly configured, hard-to-navigate, chaotic mess.
David Waldman — the Bedford Square developer — has spent months pursuing a land swap. He hopes to buy 36 Elm Street, then trade it for a section of the town-owned Baldwin parking lot across the street. Waldman would build an 8,477-square foot building behind Lux Bond & Green.
Villa del Sol would reopen there, alongside 3 small retail stores. Small retail stores would open there. Above them would be 4 apartments — 1 of them rented under state “affordable” guidelines.
The town would demolish the Villa del Sol building, creating additional parking, walkways and greenery. Waldman says that despite taking Baldwin spots for the new building, the town would net a gain of 2 parking spaces in the new lot.
None of this is new news. But Waldman has just created a web site that shows — visually — exactly what the move would look like. Here’s the view looking south, with the Brooks Corner shopping center at bottom center.
Here’s another view. Brooks Corner — is at left, with Serena & Lily behind it:
Here’s an artist’s rendering. The new parking lot (old 36 Elm Street) is at left; across Elm Street is the new building (white), with Serena & Lily next to it.
For more information on the proposed 36 Elm Street swap, click here.
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Donald Trump may not like it.
But the Mexicans are coming. Or at least, their restaurants are.
We’ve already got Viva Zapata, Villa del Sol, Border Grill, Bartaco, Cuatro Hermanos, Qdoba, Chipotle and Señor Salsa.
Rio Bravo (“tacos and tequila”) is located near Pier 1 Imports — right next to the old V restaurant. Which is near Bravo Pizzeria and Wine Bar.
I assumed the popular Italian eatery was branching out into Mexican. Just to be sure, I called Bravo.
“It’s a very strange coincidence,” said a Bravo (Italia) spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the Saugatuck rumor mill has yet another Mexican restaurant headed to the former post office, near the westbound train tracks.
Hey: If The Donald decides to campaign here, at least we’ll know where not to take him for dinner.
It’s hard enough to make it as a restaurant in Westport.
The last thing you need is a 2-year construction project next door.
Unless, added to that, is the unfounded rumor that you’re going to close.
That’s what’s happening to Villa del Sol.
The popular, family-oriented Mexican spot now shares Elm Street with dust and construction vehicles. When Bedford Square is completed, it will be a boon to the area — and Villa del Sol will benefit.
But it won’t be easy getting there.
The restaurant opened in 1998. While not as long as a previous place — Werner’s — 17 years is still “forever” in restaurant terms.
Owner Joe Osorio emigrated from Mexico at age 23. His background was in engineering, but in the US he entered the restaurant business. He had his own place in Rockland County for a couple of decades.
Westport’s Villa del Sol is quite a place. All the furnishings — tables, chairs, artwork — come direct from Mexico. Joe made many trips south, bringing it all back piece by piece.
Joe’s daughters — Jennifer and Colleen — were always involved in the restaurant. He fought pancreatic cancer for 2 years, and worked until just 3 days before his death, in 2011. The daughters then took over.
Their children all help out now too. Jennifer’s husband, Fili Molina, has been the chef since opening day.
The customers are like family too. “They’ve been coming for years,” Jennifer says. “Before they sit down, their drink is front of them.”
The crowd includes plenty of families. Kids and adults alike love the menu — a combination of classic Mexican dishes, and contemporary Nuevo Latino ones.
“We’ve watched everyone grow up,” Colleen says. “And we’ll keep doing it, for years to come.”
Despite the noise, the debris, and the incorrect rumor that Villa del Sol will close.
See you there soon. Hey, Cinco de Mayo is Tuesday!
Last winter, word on the calle was that 2 popular Mexican restaurants were coming to town.
Qdoba came. Chipotle did not.
But when no one was looking, Señor Salsa snuck up on us.
The Westport outpost of the Fairfield-based Mexican grill just opened on Post Road West, at the corner of Sylvan Road South.
For years, that was the site of Connolly’s. During its long vacancy, there were rumors that Señor Salsa was coming in. Finally — long after everyone forgot — it’s happened.
The menu features burritos, tacos, fajitas, tamales, quesadillas and more. It seems on the Qdoba end of the scale — perhaps Cuatros Hermanos — rather than Bartaco or Villa del Sol, both of which are quite different from each other.
And then there’s Viva’s, which has been here since (it seems) Emiliano Zapata himself was alive.
But Westport’s restaurant scene is a big tent.
¡Bienvenidos, Señor Salsa!
(Photos by — and a hat tip to — alert and hungry “06880” reader Lisa Shufro.)