Sunday, February 02, 2014
Comings & Goings: Westport Pizzeria Quits Main St.
By James Lomuscio
After 45 years, Westport Pizzeria is moving from Westport’s Main Street. But not far. Just up the street and around the corner to Post Road East.
Westport Pizzeria, 107 Main St., as it looked Saturday night, little changed since opening in 1968. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Heartfelt memories and emotions welled up among staff and longtime customers Saturday night at the iconic pizza emporium as news about the move spread. The last slice at 107 Main St. will be sold on Sunday, Feb. 23 and the grand opening at 143 Post Road East is set for Saturday, March 1.
Owner Carmelo Mioli, known as Mel to generations of Westporters, was there, too. He has seen this coming for some time, but nostalgia for him nevertheless runs deep. While the change is bittersweet, he remains upbeat about the new location.
“The advantage is that it’s my building,” Mioli said about 143 Post Road East, opposite the old post office, which he purchased for $812,500 in 2011. “I can fix it the way I want without answering to the landlord. There’s no lease to sign, and we don’t have the insecurity of not knowing if we will have a new lease.”
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Westporters Bring on the Beer
Westport resident Bill O’Brien (l), president and CEO of Beaver Beer, showcases his Beaver Beer at Total Wine in Norwalk today. Next to him is sales rep Harrison Hickok, also of Westport, and Fairfield resident Bill Nelson of Dichello Distribution. The two-year-old Westport-based craft brewery only distributes in Connecticut now but plans to expand. Among Westport restaurants serving the beer are the Black Duck, Little Kitchen, Dunville’s and Viva Zapata. Also, at the just-closed Dressing Room. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Allan Seigert for WestportNow.com
Friday, January 31, 2014
Assessor: Grand List Up 1.3 Percent
Westport’s economy is in good shape with word today from Assessor Paul Friia that the Grand List is up 1.3 percent over 2012.
Paul A. Friia: new construction and renovation boosted results. Contributed photo
While not as good as the previous year’s 1.5 percent increase, the $9,940,413,732 total was up from the net 2012 Grand List of $9,804,698,690, he said
The list is the sum of the net assessed value of all taxable property – real estate, motor vehicles, and personal property.
Motor vehicles and personal property are valued annually, while real estate is updated based on the market values determined as of the town’s revaluation date of Oct.1, 2010. Increases in the grand list were in all three categories, Friia said.
‘Tunnel Vision’ Art Installation Set for Downtown
The well-known tunnel connecting Westport’s Main Street to Parker-Harding Plaza parking area is about to get a facelift with a permanent art installation called “Tunnel Vision.”
The tunnel connecting Westport’s Main Street to the Parker-Harding Plaza parking lot will be the site of a permanent art installation called “Tunnel Vision”. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
The Westport Downtown Merchants Association (WDMA) announced today that local artist Miggs Burroughs has been commissioned to create a work of contemporary art for the pedestrian passageway.
The project, in collaboration with tunnel owner Win Properties of Rye, N.Y. with granted public access, will be unveiled at WDMA’s Art About Town Opening Night Street Party on Thursday, May 22, an announcement said.
“Tunnel Vision is one of the most ambitious and challenging art projects I have ever been involved in,” said Burroughs, who is donating his creative talents to the endeavor.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Chamber Getting New Director But Familiar Face
By Dave Matlow
UPDATE Third time is a charm for Heather Cavanagh who returns to the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce as executive director effective Feb. 10.
Heather Cavanagh returns to Chamber. Contributed photo
She replaces Lisa Parrelli Gray, who resigned two weeks ago and whose last day was Wednesday. She served two years.
Cavanagh has been vice president of public relations at Stamford consulting group CBP since July 2012. She first joined the Chamber as executive director in 2007 and served for about a year. She returned in March 2011 as special projects manager/interim executive director until January 2012.
“I look forward to working with the Board of Directors, Chamber members and area residents to support the business community’s efforts and enhance the civic life in Westport and Weston,” Cavanagh said in a Chamber news release.
Comings & Goings: Great Cakes Closing Sunday
By Dave Matlow
UPDATE (adds detail on history) This time it’s for real.
Flashback: It was exactly a year ago that Westporters lined up at Great Cakes to pay in advance for goods to keep the bakery in business. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Great Cakes owner Rick Dickinson said today the bakery and confectionery emporium at 772 Post Road East will close Sunday at 1 p.m. after three decades serving Westporters’ sweet tooth.
Dickinson, who took over as owner in 1994 from Max Goree, said, “It’s been 25 great years, but the last five years have been a struggle.” Great Cakes was originally created by Dale Lamberty and Kathy Farrell (Kingsley) in 1984, and the pair ran the business for four years before selling it in 1988.
A year ago when word leaked that the store was on hard times and was about to close, customers lined up to pay in advance for their goods to provide a cash cushion for Dickinson.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Westporter’s Firm Chosen to Grow Medical Marijuana
A business owned by a Westport resident is among four companies announced today as authorized to produce medical marijuana for patients to use in accordance with state law.
David Lipton, CEO of Advanced Grow Labs LLC, said his company will produce marijuana at a facility in West Haven. It is where a news conference announcing the selected companies was held today by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other officials.
Lipton said his team was applying to run a dispensary as well. He said the building has 12,000 square feet of unused space that will be used to grow marijuana.
The business will initially provide around 15 jobs and occupy and clean up a property that has been vacant for six years, the company told West Haven officials.
222 Post Road West Sells for $5.75M
The retail building at 222 Post Road West has been sold for $5,750,000. Westport’s HK Group, Matthew Keefe, president, and Franco Fellah, executive vice president, announced. The 21,000-square foot, two-story building, originally built in 1977, sits on a 1.35 acre lot and is 96 percent leased, the announcement said. It said the sale was to an out-of-town buyer, adding: “Westport commercial property has recently attracted a number of out-of-state real estate investors, driven by the great retail activity of this market. Retailers have been opening stores in Westport because of the exceptional demographic profile of the town.” The property last changed hands in 2008 for $6,175,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Westport December Unemployment 4.9 Percent
Westport’s unemployment rate in December was 4.9 percent down from 5.0 percent in November, the Connecticut Department of Labor said today.
The last time Westport’s unemployment rate was lower was in August 2008 when it was 4.5 percent, just before the recession began to be felt. The rate hit 7.0 percent in June 2009.
The department said the number of Westport unemployed in December was 606, down from 617 in November. The December labor force in Westport numbered 12,315, down from 12,364 in November. There were 11,709 employed in December, down from 11,747 in November.
A year ago in December, Westport’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Saugatuck Sweets Taking Shape
Saugatuck Sweets, located at 575 Riverside Ave. in the Saugatuck Center space previously occupied by Saugatuck Craft Butchery, which moved across the street, will host a grand opening in late February of early March, according to co-owner Al DiGuido. The founder of Al’s Angels has partnered in the venture with Pete Romano, president of Landtech, a Westport-based engineering consulting company. “We have a special earlier opening on Feb 9, 13 and 14 to sell Valentine flower and sweets gift baskets,” DiGuido said. The store’s exterior signage was placed in the first week of January, according to DiGuido, who added, “folks can follow us on Facebook under Saugatuck Sweets.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Long-Term Unemployment a Priority for Malloy
By Mark Pazniokaswww.ctmirror.org
New Britain – On a day when the state posted disappointing jobs numbers, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today he intends to ask the General Assembly next month to fund a successful private-sector program for the long-term unemployed and to ban help-wanted ads that discriminate against the jobless.
Malloy said the two measures, combined with expanding a program that offers economic incentives for employers to hire the jobless, are elements of a jobs package to be included in the budget he will deliver Feb. 5 as legislators open their 2014 session.
The first-term Democratic governor announced his initiatives at a state Department of Labor career center, the latest in a series of events by Malloy to preview election-year initiatives. He rebuffed efforts by reporters to press him on whether he will propose a tax cut.
“I think in the coming days I will be answering your questions on that point and others,” Malloy said.
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December Job Losses in CT Erase November Gains
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Connecticut’s unemployment rate continues to drop – but so does the number of residents still looking for work.
The December jobless rate fell from 7.6 percent to 7.4 percent, the state Labor Department reported today. But Connecticut also lost 3,900 jobs during that month.
The unemployment rate reflects the number of unemployed people compared with the entire workforce – which includes those employed and those seeking work. So if the total seeking work declines, the unemployment rate can drop even though the state loses jobs.
“Connecticut’s payroll job counts appear to have been affected by bad winter weather around the time of the survey reference week,” said Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research.
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Sunday, January 26, 2014
Direct from Idaho to Westport
The newest Westport coffee house, Java Coffee and Café, had its final “soft opening” day today before officially opening Tuesday at 44 Church Lane, just up the street from Spotted Horse, Guests were welcomed by founder and co-owner Todd Rippo. In addition to a variety of food and beverage offerings (beer and wine also will be available), the pop decor provides visual treats. Rippo describes the new café as “a coffee house boutique alternative to the big box coffee.” He opened his first Java restaurant in Sun Valley, Idaho in 1991 and now has five in that state. This is his first East Coast outing. Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com
Friday, January 24, 2014
Oops: CT Labor Dept. 1099-G Forms Contain Error
The Connecticut Department of Labor said today it has determined that approximately 27,000 of the 250,000 tax forms mailed out to individuals who collected unemployment compensation payments in 2013 contain a printing error.
The Labor Department is required to report unemployment compensation payments of $10 or more on form UC-1099G. “Due to an error in the printing process, the forms contain the correct information on the top portion of the form, while the bottom half of the document contains information pertinent to another individual,” a news release said
Because the forms are printed in order of zip code, the agency is in the process of determining which towns are associated with the printing error so staff will be able to better identify those claimants potentially affected by the error, the department said.
Because the forms contain social security numbers, the agency will also contact claimants that received incorrect forms to offer credit protection, it said.