Tag Archives: Ye Olde Bridge Grille

Friday Flashback #156

Regular readers know “06880” often laments the loss of things that make a town a community.

Movie theaters. Mom-and-pop shops.

And bars.

I’m talking about real bars. Not bars attached to restaurants, like so many places in town: Spotted Horse, Tavern on Main, Arezzo, Little Barn, you name it.

And not restaurants with very active bars, like Viva’s and the Duck.

No. I mean actual, go-and-stay-and-drink-and-maybe-have-peanuts-but-a-place-where-everybody-knows-your-name bar.

The Westport equivalent of Cheers.

Parsell’s Purcell’s was that kind of bar, on the Post Road near Southport. So was the Red Galleon, across from Green’s Farms Elementary School.

Ship’s Lantern was too, downtown on the Post Road (before it become The Ships nearby — which today is Tiffany 😦 ).

Then there was “The Bridge.”

Formally Ye Olde Bridge Grill — though there was nothing formal about it — The Bridge sat on Post Road West, right over the bridge (aha!), a couple of doors down from National Hall (at the time, Fairfield Furniture), and directly opposite Art’s (now Winfield) Deli.

It was around for years, but hit its stride in the 1970s and ’80s. With generous owner Dave Reynolds, popular manager/bartender Dennis Murphy, a large and loyal bunch of regulars, and a jukebox that played the same songs over and over and over again (“Domino” by Van Morrison, anyone?), The Bridge was the kind of gathering spot we just don’t have any more.

Owner Dave Reynolds …

(It was also the sponsor of an Under-23 soccer team of the same name. Stocked with the best Westport players of its time, and their friends from the college and semi-pro ranks, it won all kinds of state and regional championships. After every match, players and fans celebrated you-know-where.)

… and manager Dennis Murphy (standing, left). He coached the Bridge Grille team to many state titles.

Things change. Rents rose. The drinking age rose too, from 18 to 21.

The Bridge has been gone for 3 decades or so. Today it’s an antiques shop, or something like that.

Cheers!

Friday Flashback #9

Wednesday’s fatal accident between I-95 exits 18 and 17 closed the southbound highway for nearly 12 hours.

From 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. Thursday, vehicles crawled through Westport. It took almost an hour to get from the Sherwood Island Connector, down the Post Road and out Riverside Avenue.

Fortunately, it was nighttime. But that meant there were tons of trucks. Traffic was stop-and-go — mostly stop — all night long.

That was the scene nearly every day in the 1950s, until I-95 — then called the Connecticut Turnpike — opened. The Post Road was the only way for trucks to get from New York to Boston.

Newcomers have no idea how bad the traffic was. Oldtimers barely remember.

This week’s Friday Flashback shows a typical scene. It doesn’t look too bad — but it was.

bridge-grille-and-fairfield-furniture

Today the Fairfield Furniture Store is National Hall, with its 1st-floor Vespa restaurant. The Food Mart and Calise’s Wine & Liquors are gone. So — truly unfortunately — is Ye Olde Bridge Grille, one of Westport’s best dive bars.

The intersection of the Post Road, Wilton Road and Riverside Avenue is still bad. But can you imagine what it would be like without I-95, the highway we love to hate?