Friday, June 17, 2011
By James Lomuscio
When Bob LeRose hears about the Westport Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission’s plans to reinvigorate the downtown, making it a vibrant nightspot that can hold its own with Fairfield and South Norwalk, he usually rolls his eyes.
Bob LeRose shows off the rooftop beer garden at his Bobby Q’s restaurant on Westport’s Main Street. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
“We as individual businesses have the first responsibility to make our businesses interesting enough for people to come downtown,” he says. “Now if the P&Z wants to clear the way for a movie theater and other interesting things, great, we’ll take it.”
A P&Z downtown subcommittee has been meeting over the past month to explore ways the commission can be more business friendly in terms of regulations, as well as recommending things that are outside the P&Z’s purview such as street scape and signage.
Still, LeRose, owner of Bobby Q’s on Main Street for the past seven years, says the onus is on the business person. And he feels he’s taken an important first step—the opening a few weeks ago of Bobby Q’s al fresco, rooftop beer garden.
Open Thursday through Saturday evenings, weather permitting, the 1,000-square foot beer garden boasts more than a dozen premium beers on tap, including a pricey $12 Belgian brew, different bands Friday and Saturday nights, and bagged food for take out or to be eaten at one of the tables.
It also offers a perk of being outdoors, the opportunity to light up.
So far each weekend, even with rain last Saturday, the place has been filled, says LeRose.
“I don’t even care if you eat here (at Bobby Q’s),” he says. “Just come here for a beer and to hear some music before you head out to dinner somewhere else.”
What’s important, he says, is the beer garden’s ability to draw people downtown.
“We’re the only beer garden in Fairfield County and the only rooftop place in Fairfield County,” stresses LeRose.
Actually, the rooftop predates LeRose and Bobby Q’s. When the previous establishment, Onion Alley, opened there in the mid-1980s, the rooftop was used for both public dining and private parties, and there was music.
“It’s always been open as a bar, and it’s been part of the downtown for 25 years,” he said.
What’s new, he said is the beer garden concept. And he stressed it is “an American beer garden,” not the traditional German beer garden, though be plans a blowout German Oktoberfest in the fall.
“Beer gardens are becoming much more popular now, I think, because people like the idea of community,” he said.
Another theme night on the horizon does not even involve beer but bourbon. In the works is a bourbon and premium cigar night to be announced.
“There are a lot of people who want to bring back old Westport with mom and pop shops, and to me, this is a connection to that past,” said LeRose. “We’re mom and pop, and we’re heavily involved in the community. We’re trying to be that business people say they want down here.”
Posted 06/17/11 at 07:54 PM
Right On Bob! You have the right idea. It’s the entrepreneur that gets it done. The P& Z has taken an encouraging position by taking steps to liberalize our regulations to encourage more business activity.
Bobby Q’s is the meeting place of Sunrise Rotary, every Friday morning from 7:30 to 9:00. Bobby works a long day and he is great to have in the community.
Eins Zwei Drei, Bier!!!!
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