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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Affordable Housing Redo Offers Westport ‘Breathing Room’

By James Lomuscio

The state’s affordable housing statute 8-30g has long been the bane of local municipalities because it allows developers to override zoning regulations if a municipality does not have 10 percent of its housing stock deemed affordable.

WestportNow.com Image
Developer Philip Craft of Easton shows off a redesign of his proposed four-story affordable housing complex at 1177 Post Road East, which he presented to the Representative Town Meeting last October. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Westport is one of those towns, and 8-30g has been on the mouths and minds of local officials for years. The fear is that an unscrupulous developer could use it to ride roughshod over zoning regulations by providing just a small percentage of affordable units.

In the meantime, towns have been seeking four-year moratoriums to reach the state mandated housing stock goal by way of points based on affordable housing units in place.

On Monday, concerns over 8-30g lessened, with 138 of the state’s 169 municipalities not at the 10 percent goal catching a break.

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07/25/17 08:30 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, July 24, 2017

House Approves Union Concessions Deal

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

The House of Representatives today narrowly approved the state employees’ concessions deal that is expected to save as much as $1.57 billion this fiscal year and next combined.

The Democrat-controlled House voted 78-72 almost entirely along party lines to endorse the deal.

The concessions package, which workers ratified earlier this month, tentatively is scheduled to go before the Senate on July 31.

Meanwhile, House and Senate Republican leaders objected to today’s vote. They argued that nonpartisan analysts — who hadn’t received all documentation from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration until last Friday — were unable to conduct a full review.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

GOP Leader Decries House Push for a Monday Vote on Union Deal

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

While legislative voting on the proposed union concessions deal could begin Monday, the top Republican in the Senate said the House Democratic leadership was irresponsibly rushing action on a crucial agreement.

Legislators must be at the Capitol on Monday for a constitutionally mandated, one-day session to consider overriding measures vetoed this year by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“We will finalize decisions on any potential veto override votes at our caucus meeting Monday, as well as discuss the labor concession agreement, which we expect to vote on later that day,” House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, wrote in a statement.

But while Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, also scheduled a vote, he’s waiting until July 31 to accommodate lawmakers awaiting more information on the deal.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Awash in Concerns, Water Tanks Decision Moved to September

By James Lomuscio

The Aquarion Water Company’s plan to replace a failing 1.5 million gallon North Avenue water tank with two 2.5 million gallon ones drew concerns from neighbors and commissioners at tonight’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) hearing.

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Work was recently completed on a new pump station at the North Avenue Aquarion site. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Neighbors argued that Aquarion had not given them adequate notice, just three weeks, about a project that could negatively affect their home values and quality of life.

“I do want you to know that we feel as though we’ve been hit in the gut a little bit, and I want you to be aware,” Jodi Hardin of 58 North Ave. told Aquarion officials.

She and others said North Avenue already is busy because of Staples High School, which sits across from the current, 1956-built tank, and nearby Bedford Middle School.

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07/20/17 11:06 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Connecticut’s Private Sector Jobs Finally Rebound From ’08

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut’s private sector appears to have completed its painfully slow recovery from the Great Recession of 2008, as the state added 7,100 private-sector jobs last month on top of more than 5,000 in May, the state Department of Labor reported today. Unemployment, however, still rose a tenth of a point to 5 percent.

With private employment reaching 1,460,400, the state has regained 102 percent of its lost non-government jobs and entered an expansion for the first time in 88 months. With losses in the public-sector, which includes the state’s two tribal casinos, Connecticut still needs to gain 19,100 jobs for non-farm employment to return to overall pre-recession levels.

“June showed another sharp increase in payroll jobs over May, and private sector jobs have now completely recovered from the 2008 – 2010 employment recession, although these numbers are preliminary and subject to revision,” said Andy Condon, the DOL’s research director.

“Our unemployment data continues to show growth in the labor force and employment, indicating that workers are entering or rejoining the labor force and most are finding jobs.”

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07/20/17 09:10 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings & Goings: Vine Wine Room Closes

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The Vine Wine Room, 190 Main St., has closed after less than a year in business.  The cafe opened last August in the space formerly occupied by Luxe Wine Bar, which closed in April, 2016. According to an employee at its next door neighbor, Joe’s Pizza, the location is under new ownership but plans are undetermined. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

07/20/17 05:32 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Facelift for Former Save the Children Home

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The building at 54 Wilton Road, former home of Save the Children, is getting a facelift, according to developer David Waldman, one of the owners. He said workers are removing the “exterior skins” from the center section. A new middle section will then be created that will house the lobby of the new building. He said the construction is an “adaptive re-use” since the internal support structure remains. Future regulatory hearings will address the disposition of the remainder of the existing structure, Waldman said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

07/19/17 03:21 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

State Employees Ratify Concessions by Wide Margin

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Unionized state employees have overwhelmingly approved a $1.57 billion package of concessions over two years, providing major savings to help close the state budget gap.

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Union representatives at a news conference announcing ratification of a concessions agreement with the state. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Pazniokas for CtMirror.org

The focus now shifts to a closely divided General Assembly, where Republicans say they will attempt to reject the agreement.

The State Employees Bargain Agent Coalition announced that more than 80 percent of the votes cast were in favor of accepting concessions that will freeze wages and increase contributions for health and pensions.

Bargaining units representing state police troopers and assistant attorneys general did not vote on the wage concessions.

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07/18/17 11:25 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, July 17, 2017

New Ops Manager Harris: ‘What Better Place’ Than Westport

By James Lomuscio

Perhaps the biggest question for Sara A. Harris, 37, the town’s new operations manager, is, “Why Westport?

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Sara Harris: ‘honored and humbled’ to be in new position. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

She has held top posts with New York City’s Bloomberg administration from 2004 to 2013. She served in the Big Apple’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) managing more than $2 billion in city revenue.

In 2014, she became chief of staff for the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation’s Capital Division. There she oversaw a staff of about 400 responsible for the design and construction of all parkland projects.

In 2015, she returned the OMB, focusing on financial efficiencies and whether money was being well spent in different governmental areas.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Place Your Orders: Pearl Patio Cleared for New Serving Regs

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Guests at The Pearl Restaurant’s patio at Longshore Club Park will soon be able to sit at the bar and tables and order food and drinks. The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission, by a 3 to 2 vote with 1 abstention, tonight approved new regulations for the restaurant. Until now, the patio bar had been a service bar only and no food could be ordered at the tables. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

07/13/17 10:35 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings & Goings: Villa del Sol to Post Road West

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Villa Del Sol Mexican restaurant at 36 Elm St. will be moving to 170 Post Road West with approval tonight from the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission. The restaurant had asked for the okay involving some parking issues at the new location, which has been empty since the May 2015 departure of Peachwave frozen yogurt.  Developer David Waldman is purchasing 36 Elm St. as part of a land swap with the town that would see construction of a retail and residential building across the street behind Lux Bond and Green. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

07/13/17 10:20 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Malloy Recognizes his Budget Proposal is $121M Out of Balance

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said repeatedly that all of the budgets legislative caucuses have proposed are so flawed he would veto them.

But the Malloy administration conceded this week that there are some holes in the governor’s budget as well — worth more than $120 million.

The $40.6 billion, two-year budget Malloy unveiled on May 15 effectively assumes $46.7 million in labor savings in the first year and $74.5 million in the second that the administration now acknowledges it can’t achieve — at least as originally planned.

Why? Because those cost-saving measures — which largely involve reducing staff and closing and consolidating facilities — would require layoffs that would be prohibited for four years under the concessions deal pending before state employee unions.

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Thursday, July 06, 2017

Comings & Goings: Ulta Beauty to Post Road East

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Ulta Beauty, a full service salon, will open in 2018 at 1365 Post Road East in the former site of Anthropologie, according to Norwalk store manager Jennifer McIntosh. She said the business offers “all things beauty, all in one place” and includes a full service salon as well as drug store and department store brand cosmetics.  She added the Westport store is an addition to its 15 Connecticut locations. The NASDAQ Exchange-listed company (symbol: ULTA), headquartered in Bolingbrook, Illinois was founded in 1990 by Dick George and Terry Hanson and has grown to 1,000 locations. Anthropologie relocated to Bedford Square in downtown Westport in April. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

07/06/17 02:32 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Comings & Goings: Effi’s Salon to Riverside Avenue

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Effi’s Salon, 719 Post Road East, near the intersection of Roseville Road, will relocate to 484 Riverside Ave., near the intersection of Saugatuck Avenue, in the fall. Owned by Effi Andriotis, the salon has been at its current location for 17 years, according to staff members. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

07/05/17 02:59 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Gallery: First Look: Savannah Bee Company Opening


Savannah Bee Company, known for its premium artisanal honeys and honey-based health and beauty products, today applied finishing touches for its grand opening in Westport on Friday. It is located at 47 Church Lane in the newly constructed and recently opened Bedford Square complex anchored by the Anthropologie store. According to Hillary Mack of the Savannah-based company’s management team, Westport will be its eight location; others are in Georgia (4), South Carolina (2) and Florida (1).  Mack said the business, founded by Ted Dennard in 2002, distributed its bee products through wholesale channels before opening its first retail operation in Savannah in 2008. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/28/17 04:35 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

House, Senate Democrats Unable to Agree on Provisional Budget

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut’s prospects of enacting a state budget — even a provisional one — before the new fiscal year begins July 1 appeared to slip away late Monday night as House and Senate Democrats were unable to agree on a path forward.

After closed-door talks between House and Senate Democrats bogged down over several issues, including a potential sales tax hike and labor concessions, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz of Berlin, notified his fellow Democrats they should not expect to vote on a provisional budget Thursday.

The speaker had asked Democrats, who hold a slim 79-72 edge in the House, to hold open Thursday for a possible budget vote.

Aresimowicz refused to discuss details of the negotiations, but he confirmed today that he doesn’t anticipate a budget vote at this time.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Comings & Goings: Nike Running to Close

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An employee today confirmed a longtime rumor that the Nike Running store, 69 Main St., will close by end of 2017. The employee said the Nike trend now is to limit retail locations to “outlets and large cities.” The store opened in November 2011 and suffered severe flooding during Super Storm Sandy in 2012. One local real estate source estimated there are now 10 vacancies or availabilities in the Main Street area, one of the highest such rates in recent years. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/21/17 12:49 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

180 Post Road East Sold for $18 Million

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The combined retail/office building at Westport’s 180 Post Road East has changed hands for $18 million, according to a filing recorded in the Town Clerk’s Office on Monday. The town reaped $45,000 in conveyance taxes for the sale while $225,000 went to the state. The building, which recently underwent extensive renovations, last changed hands in 2013 for $11 million (see WestportNow Aug. 30, 2013). The seller this time was 180 Westport Partners LLC and the buyer JPM Westport LLC. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/20/17 03:12 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, June 19, 2017

Cities, Towns Ask State Leaders in TV Ad, ‘Are You Listening?’

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities is pressing state officials to deliver a budget that protects cities and towns, unveiling a television commercial today that suggests the legislature’s inaction could cost people their homes.

The 30-second spot, which will air through the rest of the month on network affiliates and Cable News 12 in Fairfield County, urges officials to revisit a state budget stabilization plan local leaders developed back in January.

The ad mingles concerns raised by unnamed home and business owners with responses from municipal leaders, who drew contrasts of responsive local officials with deadlocked legislators.

“High property taxes are going to cause me to lose my home,” one woman says as the ad opens. A second asks “Why can’t government be more efficient?”

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Without a CT Budget by July 1, the Options Are All Bad

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

For more than 100 years, Connecticut has periodically grappled with what to do when the fiscal year begins and a new budget is not in place to greet it.

But with just 15 days left in the outgoing fiscal year — and a $2.3 billion deficit looming after that — gridlocked legislators’ inability to adopt a new budget has huge repercussions across a wide spectrum.

Big question marks already hang over some social services for children, the poor and disabled, as well as certain aid to cities and towns.

And Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has warned legislators for several weeks now not to force him to run the state without a new budget in place, already has said he considers that option a “worst-case scenario,” and that legislators should as well.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Comings & Goings: Morgan Stanley to Relocate to 500 Post Road East

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Morgan Stanley will relocate its offices at Nyala Farms and 320 Post Road West to the newly renovated, solar-powered office building at 500 Post Road East next month. The building’s principal owner, Timon Malloy, said today the firm would occupy 24,000-square feet, including all of the third level and one-half of the second level in the 37,000-square foot building. Its previous tenants pror to renovation had included Terex Corp. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Remembering Mom

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Timon Malloy, principal owner of the newly renovated, solar-powered office building at 500 Post Road East, today shows the painting he selected for the ground floor entrance area. Called “Compo Beach,” it was done by his late mother, Susan Malloy, artist and philanthropist who died in April 2015. (See WestportNow April 14, 2015) “It is very personal to me,” he said. “it was the last large size painting she completed.” It was announced today that Morgan Stanley will consolidate its two Westport offices in the building. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/14/17 03:32 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gallery: Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce Dinner


Scenes from tonight’s Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce 1st Citizen Awards dinner at the Saugatuck Rowing Club. WestportNow.com photos

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Chamber Honors 1st Citizens, Young Entrepreneurs

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The Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce tonight honored Jeff Wieser (l), CEO and president of Westport nonprofit Homes with Hope, and developer David Waldman (2nd r) with its annual 1st Citizen Award. Also honored were young entrepreneurs and high school students Aishah Avidu (2nd l) owner and operator Bar Bucha in Saugatuck, James O’Brien (3rd l), funder of Workshop Garden Technologies, which produces “food computers,” Phoebe Spear (c), a two-time cancer survivor who founded Phoebe’s Phriends, a nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer,  (all Staples students), and Remy Glick (not pictured), a Weston High School student who founded Ripped by Remy, which redesigns vintage clothing into new and creative pieces. Joining them in the picture are Matthew Mandell, executive director of the chamber, and Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe. Keynote speaker was Westporter David Pogue, personal technology correspondent for Yahoo News and contributor to “CBS Sunday Morning” among media outlets. The event took place at the Saugatuck Rowing Club and was catered by The Boathouse Restaurant at the club. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

06/13/17 10:11 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Westport No. 3 in CT Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) finally are making some headway in Connecticut with Westport having the third highest number of them behind Greenwich and Stamford.

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The figures, compiled by the Westport Electric Car Club (WECC) following a Freedom of Information request by member Bruce Becker to the Department of Motor Vehicles, were released today.

Greenwich was No. 1 in the state with 429 registered EVs, Stamford was No. 2 with 233, and Westport No. 3 with 217, the club said.

In all, there are 4,636 EVs registered in the state—not a large number but significant considering “a decade ago there was nothing,” said Barry Kresch, spokesman for the WECC.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Westport Chamber to Honor Waldman and Wieser

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday will honor David Waldman of David Adam Realty, and Jeff Wieser, CEO and president of Homes with Hope, at its First Citizen Award dinner.

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Honored by Westport Weston Chamber: David Waldman (l) and Jeff Wieser. Contributed photos

The event from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. will be on the patio overlooking the river at the Saugatuck Rowing Club, 521 Riverside Ave., and will be catered by The Boathouse.

Tickets for the gala dinner are available through the chamber and cost $80 per person.  Tables of 10 are also available. Information can be found at http://www.westportwestonchamber.com.

The chamber said it was honoring Waldman for showing “a true vision for what can be done through adaptive reuse and specific choices in development.”

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Friday, June 09, 2017

Comings & Goings: Marine Layer to Main Street

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Marine Layer, an independently owned, California-based retail casual clothing and accessories store opens Saturday at 135 Main St. in space previously occupied by Davids Tea.  East coast manager John Ferrin describes the product line as having a “seven day weekend softness, the fabrics are super soft, we’re fabric obsessed, we sell everything you’d want to wear to relax.”  He said the Westport store is the 29th or 30th in the country; the first opened in the Bay Area in 2010. He said the public is invited Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for “drinks, soft stuff and music, friends, and good vibes.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/09/17 05:39 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Comings & Goings: T-Mobile at 1799 Post Road East

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T-Mobile, the cellphone, activation center and accessories business, has opened at 1799 Post Road East in the retail shopping strip previously anchored by Garelick & Herbs, which relocated to Southport. T-Mobile previously had an outlet at 396 Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/07/17 12:27 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Years Behind Other States, Rules for Uber, Lyft Win Final Passage

By Kyle Constable

www.ctmirror.org

The Senate voted 28-8 tonight to approve a bill that would make Connecticut one of the last states to impose standards on ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

The bill now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after facing what proved to be its last two close calls — a pair of Republican-backed amendments in the Senate.

With the legislature’s upper chamber evenly divided between Democratic and Republican members, both proposed amendments ended in a deadlock, leaving Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman to cast tiebreaking votes. She opposed both amendments, probably keeping the bill from stalling for another year.

Had the Republican amendments passed, the bill would have had to go back to the House of Representatives with little more than 24 hours remaining in the legislative session — a death sentence for most legislation.

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Cutting the Ribbon at NewBrook Kitchen

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NewBrook Kitchen and Artisan Market, a paleo cuisine takeout cafe, opened today with a ribbon cutting at 37 Saugatuck Ave., next to Dunville’s. Taking part were (l-r) Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, First Selectman Jim Marpe, owner Cindy Hartog, and her daughter, Danielle. The store offers a wide range of gluten-free and paleo foods. At the end of the day, Cindy Hartog said: “It was a great day. We really did well, especially with our wild caught tuna sandwiches and our salads.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

06/06/17 06:27 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

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