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Monday, March 12, 2012

State Unemployment Dropped to 8% in January

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Unemployment in Connecticut dropped for a sixth consecutive month in January to 8 percent, the lowest since April 2009. The state now has recovered 35,900 of the 117,500 non-farm jobs lost in the recession of March 2008 to February 2010.

The construction industry led the way in job growth, adding 3,200 of the 7,100 new jobs recorded for the month, but nearly every sector showed growth. A notable exception: government jobs continued to shrink for the month and year.

“The region’s mild winter appears to be helping job growth in Connecticut across many industries, including construction, manufacturing, and trade,” said Andy Condon, the director of research for the state Department of Labor.

Unemployment was 9.3 percent a year ago and 8.1 percent in December. The national unemployment rate is 8.3 percent.

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Friday, March 09, 2012

Sign of Opening Getting Closer

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Workers today erected the Spotted Horse Tavern sign outside the new restaurant on Westport’s Church Lane. The eatery is expected to open within the next two weeks. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Billy Nistico for WestportNow.com

03/09/12 09:19 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings and Goings: Purple Feet Opening Saturday

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Purple Feet Wine and Spirits, formerly located at 1080 Post Road East, in the shopping center anchored by Barnes & Noble, since 1976 will reopen at Playhouse Square on Saturday, according to Nick Rossi, the new owner of the long time Westport establishment. Rossi said that he acquired the Purple Feet business from Marco Crettol who operated Purple Feet in Westport for 34 years.  He said the Playhouse Square location will have about 1,880 square feet compared to the 1,500 square feet in its former location.  The Playhouse Square site was formerly the space occupied by the Curtain Exchange. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

03/09/12 05:07 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, March 08, 2012

‘Friends & Family’ at Urban Oufitters Before Opening

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Urban Outfitters, the newest addition to the Westport retail scene, held a “friends and family” reception tonight as a prelude to its official opening on Thursday at 101-107 Post Road East, across from the Old Town Hall.  The trendy clothing and accessories store has a second entrance on Church Lane across from the Family Y.  Other Urban Outfitters locations in Connecticut include two stores in Greenwich and one in New Haven. The Westport location was previously home to TD Banknorth. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Two Westport Office Buildings Sold

Two Westport office buildings have changed hands in the past week, one for $9 million and one for $8.5 million in another sign of an up tick in the commercial real estate market.

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The office building at 500 Post Road East sold for $9 million, almost $2.6 million less than the purchase price in 2005. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The 35-year-old building at 500 Post Road East, former home of Terex Corp. across from Westport Fire Headquarters, was purchased for $9 million by Stamford-based Fred F. French Investing LLC from Lemle Westport LLC, according to the Town Clerk’s Office.

Lemle Westport LLC purchased the 38,000-square foot building in 2005 for $11.575 million, according to the Tax Assessor’s database. Terex moved its headquarters to the Nyala Farms office complex in 2006. (See WestportNow July 25, 2006)

The other sale involved 55 Post Road West which was sold by 55 Post Road West LLC to Homeclear PRW Ventures, LLC for $8.5 million. The three-story, 34,325-square foot structure built in 1971 was purchased by 55 Post Road West LLC in 2006 for $6 million, according to town records.

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Westport Soon No Longer Shake Shack Sole CT Outpost

Connecticut Shake Shack fans will soon no longer have to travel to Westport to get their burger, hot dog, and frozen custard fix. The Danny Meyer-owned chain opens in New Haven in the fall.

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The Shackburger is Shake Shack’s signature offering. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

Shake Shack’s New Haven home will be centrally located at 986 Chapel St., across from the New Haven Green and kitty-corner to Yale’s Old Campus, the company announced today.

“My colleagues and I are proud to bring Shake Shack to New Haven,” said Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group. “We are incredibly excited to establish roots in this food-loving, bustling city -– which some even say is the birthplace of the hamburger. New Haven is staging a thrilling urban renaissance and we are excited for the opportunity to join this community as employers and citizens.”

The New Haven Shake Shack will build upon the popular success of seven siblings throughout New York City –as well as locations in Miami Beach, Washington, D.C. Saratoga Race Course, N.Y, and Westport, which opened last July. Additionally, Shake Shack has locations in Dubai, UAE, and Kuwait City.

03/02/12 02:22 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Comings and Goings: Old Town Hall Gets New Restaurant

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The ranks of new restaurants in Westport’s center are about to get bigger. Developer Robert Haroun said The Town Hall Restaurant will open in the basement space of his Old Town Hall at 90 Post Road East. The space years ago housed Westport police headquarters.  He said the eatery, owned by Westporter Chad Whited, is scheduled to open in three or four months and will serve hamburgers, sandwiches, and casual food with a bar. Meanwhile, Haroun has applied for permits to erect a two-story building at 100 Post Road East, site of the former drive-up banking building, that will have 4,600-square feet on the first floor with basement storage of similar dimension. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

03/01/12 10:43 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Urban Outfitters Opens Next Week

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UPDATE An opening date of Thursday, March 8 has been set for Urban Outfitters, the trendy clothing chain, at 101-107 Post Road East with a second entrance on Church Lane across from the Family Y. (An earlier report said the date was March 7.) The store is part of the Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters, Inc., which also owns Anthropolgie and four other brands, including Terrain which is under construction on the former Curran Cadillac site on Post Road East. The Westport Urban Outfitters location was previously home to TD Banknorth. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

03/01/12 09:14 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Abolishing the Fed ‘Would Be a Huge Step Backwards’

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Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin addresses the Y’s Men today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com

Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, responding to a questioner at today’s Westport Y’s Men meeting, said abolishing the Federal Reserve as some have urged would “be a mistake” and a “huge step backwards.”

“My personal view is that would be a mistake,” she said before breaking into a smile as her answer drew loud laughter in the packed Westport Unitarian Church. “The Federal Reserve was put into place with a lot of thought, primarily a very hyper cyclicality preceded the creation of the Federal Reserve.

“And there was a sense that actually adherence to the gold standard was not in the long term interest of an institution building a kind of moderate –- and steering a moderate—path of growth in the economy.

“One thing that I say when I hear people argue for ending the Fed is ‘and then what? What would we put in place? What is the alternative here?’

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Economic Lesson


Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin addressed the WestportY’s Men today at the Unitarian Church and shifted easily from detailed economic talk to how policies affect everyday people—often in a very animated way and with much humor. She is the daughter of Westporters Arllene and Herbert Bloom. Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com and contributed photos

03/01/12 05:25 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Fed’s Raskin: Low Interest Rates Will Boost Economy

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Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin told the Westport Y’s Men today that while record low interest rates have cut income for savers, they will ultimately help increase returns for savers and investors. Raskin, whose parents Arlene and Herb Bloom are Westport residents, said the Dodd-Frank law will provide the regulatory framework to address some of the issues that led to the 2008 financial crisis. “Institutions that are too big to fail actually do have costs on taxpayers and costs on our economy,” she said in response to a question at the meeting at Westport’s Unitarian Church. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

03/01/12 05:14 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Federal Reserve Governor Gets Warm Welcome Home

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Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin gets a warm welcome home late Wednesday night from Westport parents Arlene and Herb Bloom.  Raskin will address the Westport Y’s Men today at the Unitarian Church in a talk expected to get widespread coverage in the financial press. One of five board members, Raskin’s nomination by President Obama to fill an unexpired term ending in 2016 was approved by the U.S. Senate last September. Two weeks ago, it was disclosed that in a vote cast last October, Raskin was the lone dissenter when the Fed issued a proposed regulation implementing the controversial Volcker rule, which would restrict U.S. banks from making bets with their own capital. Prior to her appointment to the Board, Raskin was the Commissioner of Financial Regulation for the State of Maryland. She received her B.A. in economics (magna cum laude) from Amherst College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

03/01/12 05:15 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Comings and Goings: Financial Firm to Saugatuck P.O.

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The latest addition to the changing street scape of Westport’s Saugatuck section involves the relocation of Fermat Capital Management, currently at 2 Railroad Place, to the site of the former Saugatuck Post Office, 611 Riverside Ave., which closed in September 2009 (see WestportNow Sept. 5, 2009). According to Jeff Bates, Fermat’s chief operating officer, the company will relocate its approximate 12 staff members to the new site around mid-year. Bates said, “We’re growing and need more space.” Fermat Capital Management, LLC, co-founded by John and Nelson Seo, is a specialty investment management firm founded in Westport in 2001. With more than $2 billion in assets under management as of June 30, 2011, Fermat Capital manages institutional portfolios of Insurance-Linked Securities (ILS) with a particular emphasis on catastrophe bonds. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

02/28/12 09:57 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Malloy Calls Liquor Price Controls ‘Ghastly, Unfair’

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

UPDATE The battle to legalize Sunday liquor sales completed its evolution today into conflicting visions of prosperity and despair.

On one side, liquor wholesalers, major retailers, new groups looking to sell beer, wine and spirits, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration told a legislative panel that proposed changes would bolster the economy and drive down some of the highest liquor costs in the country.

On the other side, the longstanding chief lobbyist for Connecticut’s package stores predicted that changes offered by the Malloy administration—not the institution of Sunday sales but rather measures expanding competition—would eventually eliminate more than 8,000 small business jobs.

While calling alcohol a “unique product” subject to “complex and long-standing” regulatory laws, Malloy wrote in testimony to the General Law Committee that the status quo no longer reflects “modern-day realities.”

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02/28/12 06:00 PM Comments (5) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

To Keep Education Focus, Malloy Compromises on Liquor

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Trying to keep the political focus on education reform, the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy responded today to some of the concerns raised by wholesalers and retailers of alcohol about his sweeping proposal to overhaul liquor laws.

Revisions distributed by the administration would limit competition among retailers and retain some of the controls on pricing, while still giving retailers more flexibility to sell beer, wine and spirits more cheaply.

The changes reflect a governor more willing to compromise in his second year, especially when the price of sticking to his original plan might be a protracted fight that could draw political resources away from education reform.

“The governor understands, we all understand, there is not much time,” said Roy Occhiogrosso, the governor’s senior adviser. “There is a big education reform package that is a priority.”

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Comings and Goings: Asian Imperial Furniture Closing

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Asia Imperial Furniture Co.,1433 Post Road East, next to Izzo Country Gardens and Landscaping, will close its business at the end of March, according to co-owners Wendy and Jerry Wong who have occupied that location since August 2004. Wendy Wong said she and her husband decided to close the shop because “the economy has slowed down, our interior designer trade has slowed down, the whole market has slowed down—and the cost of business never goes down.”  She added that their Internet business (http://www.asiaimperial.com) will continue and “we are expanding our offerings.”  She said they will also continue to have private showings by appointment at their Bridgeport warehouse (http://www.mybttc.com). Jerry Wong said that everything in the store is now priced at 50 percent off with the exception of five sculptures that are on display. Wendy Wong said their lease has expired and they made no attempt to extend it “although we have a wonderful relationship with the Izzos who are our landlords—we are like family with them.” She said that she is also a professional in web design, continues to apply her skills and build that business, and can be reached at [email protected],com. “I even created the site for our new neighbor, the Rustica Restaurant” whose site goes live soon, she said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

02/26/12 08:15 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Urban Outfitters Aiming at March Opening

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Urban Outfitters, the trendy clothing chain with the 18- to 30-year-old as its target customer, will open at 101-107 Post Road East—with a second entrance on Church Lane across from the Family Y (above)—around March 9, according to a worker on site. He said the shop is in the process of furniture deliveries and inventory stocking. The new outlet of the Philadelphia-based company which also owns Anthropolgie and four other brands, is part of the 11,600-square foot space at 101 and 107 Post Road East that was previously occupied by TDBanknorth. Urban Outfitters also has Connecticut stores in Greenwich, Farmington (Westfarms Mall) and New Haven (Yale campus.) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Getting Ready for Opening

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- Workers prepare the interior of Urban Outfitters which is scheduled to open next month with entrances on Post Road East and Church Lane. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Texas Teacher Pension Fund Takes Stake in Bridgewater

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas has taken a $250 million equity stake in Westport-based Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, The Wall Street Journal said today. WestportNow.com Image

The move by the approximately $100 billion pension fund comes as Bridgewater’s founder, Ray Dalio, seeks to reduce his ownership in the firm, the report said.

Dalio, who owns about 60 percent of Bridgewater, may reduce his stake to about 20 percent over the next 10 years, the newspaper quoted people familiar with the matter as saying.

Several top executives at Bridgewater have been buying stakes as part of this transition, the Journal said.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Asian Bistro Opening Next Month

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The attraction of new restaurants to Westport’s revitalized Saugatuck section continues with the addition of Bistro 88 on Bridge Square (see WestportNow, Jan. 13, 2012). It will open in about a month, according to Paul Chung of Easton, its co-owner with his sister, Naomi.  He said the sushi and asian food restaurant will have seating for 20 and will serve beer and wine. He said the restaurant will be open seven days, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and until 10 p.m. on other days. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Terex Narrows Loss on Double-Digit Sales Growth

Westport-based heavy equipment maker Terex Corp. today reported a loss for the fourth quarter that narrowed from last year on strong double-digit sales growth.

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Terex’s results in the quarter benefited from higher sales at its aerial work platforms, construction and crane segments.

Terex said it saw further recovery in many of its end markets as utilization rates improved and existing fleets aged. The company noted that emerging markets continued to grow rapidly, along with strong performance in North America, helping to offset continuing weakness in several European markets.

Looking ahead, Terex forecasts earnings and revenue for fiscal year 2012 in line with analysts’ estimates.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Name on Post Road East

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A new name, Terrain, now appears on a banner at the former home of Curran Cadillac, 561 Post Road East, in Westport where plans are in process to replace the structure with one that will be the home of the shop for eco-friendly growing supplies, home and garden décor, furniture, containers, gifts, personal care items, locally sourced and prepared artisan foods. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Comings and Goings: New Eatery in Bogey’s Space

By Dave Matlow

Six months after Westport’s Bogey’s Grill and Tap Room closed at 323 Main St. after a 17-year run, work was under way today on a new restaurant set to open in the space in the spring.

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Work was under way today in the former Bogey’s space for the new venture opening in the spring. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Fairfield resident Jay Stasko, 34, co-owner and general manager of the new eatery, said, “We have our fingers crossed that it will be open in April.”

He said the menu will appeal “to all needs, including fine dining with aged prime steaks as well as casual fare such as hamburgers.”  The new restaurant will be called either 323 Main or simply 323, he said.

It will have seating for 85 in the dining room plus seven high tops in the bar and 12 bar stools, Stasko said. He said it will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with a pub-style menu in the late evening.

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Comings and Goings: Achorn’s Leaving Main Street

By Dave Matlow

UPDATE Achorn’s Pharmacy, a fixture of Westport’s downtown since 1927 and the oldest independently owned business on Main Street, will soon relocate to Playhouse Square, according to owner Ajay Desai.

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Achorn’s Pharmacy, a downtown mainstay for 85 years, will soon relocate to Playhouse Square. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Desai who assumed ownership in March 2011, having purchased the business from Ed Levinstim, said he is ending Achorn’s 85-year downtown presence because his lease expires in May and the landlord has quoted “extremely high rent” to remain at that site. 

The relocation of Achorn’s—the sole remaining pharmacy downtown—is another milestone in the departure of independently-owned businesses from downtown Westport. 

Last month Harvey Skolnick, owner of the Liquor Locker, announced his business was leaving its Main Street location after 44 years and relocating to the Compo Shopping Center. He said the move was motivated by sharply increasing rent and a reduced attraction of shoppers to Westport’s downtown. (See WestportNow Jan. 10, 2012)

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Talbots Consolidates on Main Street

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Talbots, the women’s apparel shop at Westport’s 165 Main St., has reduced and consolidated its floor space. According to the store manager, it moved its display of woman petites from its wing at the corner of Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza to the main part of the store. The store manager said that Talbots’s lease in the onetime Remarkable Book Store space runs out in April and the company has decided to consolidate now although it will retain the full space until April. Talbots took over the space in 1990 along with Talbots Kids on Parker Harding Plaza. In 2003, the company opened Talbots Men’s across the street at 90 Main St. in space now occupied by Vineyard Vines. Talbots closed both the men’s and children’s stores in 2008. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Monday, February 06, 2012

Comings and Goings: Painter’s Supply Opens

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Painter’s Supply of Bridgeport opened today in the Compo Shopping Center, 413 Post Road East, Westport in space formerly occupied by Brandman’s Paint (See WestportNow Jan. 6, 2012). The store includes decorator services from Brandman’s. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m, Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to sales associate Michael Cole. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com

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Comings and Goings: Leonards Furniture Closes

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Leonards New England, which sold antique furniture and other items at 1045 Post Road East, Westport has closed “due to the economy,” according to an employee in its Seekonk, Mass. headquarters. Leonards moved into its 1045 Post Road East location in December 2009, replacing Smith & Hawken, a high-end gardening store that went out of business in July 2009. Leonards occupied its former 1026 Post Road East location since March 2000, now the home of J.M. McLaughlin clothiers. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Comings and Goings: Aux Delices Succeeds Arcudi’s

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The Aux Delices French bakery and cafe will open at 1035 Post Road East, Westport “some time in May,” according to co-owner Greg Addonizio (above). The location formerly was occupied by Arcudi’s Restaurant.  Peter Jennings of Westport-based Bayberry Property Management said that the Arcudi family’s 30-year lease on the site had recently expired. The new Westport location for Aux Delices with be the fourth cafe in Fairfield County owned by Addonizio and his wife, Debra Ponzek. Addonizio said that the new cafe which will serve beer and wine will seat 45, have outdoor seating in the spring and feature a large bakery.  He describes the ambience of his four locations as “cafes with gourmet food and a bakery team of 15 chefs.” Having started the business in Riverside in 1995 with his wife, he said that their other similar establishments are located in Greenwich (opened in 2000) and Darien (2004). In addition, “We have a ‘commissary’ in Stamford and a cafeteria in Old Greenwich,” he said. The commissary is a large, commercial kitchen where they offer adult and children’s cooking classes. Addonizio said Aux Delices also offers the option of conducting cooking classes in the privacy of homes. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

02/04/12 12:57 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, February 03, 2012

State Invests $500,000 in Westport Health Startup

Connecticut Innovations, the state’s quasi-public authority responsible for technology-based economic development, has made an investment of $500,000 in Westport-based MyCare Inc. through its Seed Investment Fund.

The investment in the startup at 979 Post Road East is part of a $1 million round of funding, also involving Intersection Health Partners, also of Westport, an announcement said.

MyCare’s core product is a proprietary search engine tool that allows users to access and analyze data in any electronic medical record in near real-time.

“CI’s investment represents a critical step in MyCare’s success in bringing powerful new clinical data search and care delivery technology to the provision of patient care,” said Matt Walton, chief executive officer and co-founder of MyCare.

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Curran Cadillac Site: Work in Progress

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The dismantling demolition of the former home of Curran Cadillac, 561 Post Road East, is in progress.  Plans are in process to replace the structure with one that will be the home of Terrain, a shop for eco-friendly growing supplies, home and garden décor, furniture, containers, gifts, personal care items, locally sourced and prepared artisan foods. It was the WestportNow Teardown of the Day on Nov. 4, 2011. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

02/03/12 07:36 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

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