Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Westport’s Splash Restaurant, which provided waterfront dining for 19 years at the Inn at Longshore before abruptly closing last October, will be replaced in mid-December by a new restaurant, Pearl of Longshore.
The Board of Selectmen today approved the new subtenant of the town-owned inn property, which has been leased for more than 30 years to Longshore Associates of Westport Limited Partnership, owned by Rory Tagert. Tagert announced in January he had signed a letter of intent with the new operators. (See WestportNow Jan. 20, 2015)
The board was told that the new restaurant would have an emphasis on Mediterranean-style seafood fare in the summer, but add additional meat and game dishes in other months. It is owned by an investor group, BNG Partners LLC, headed by Marc Backon, a 20-year Westport resident with a background in healthcare and business ventures.
Backon said his partners include Antonio Ninivaggi, who took over Fairfield’s Osianna Mediterranean Taverna in January and is a former general manager of Tarantino Restaurant in Westport and Barcelona in Stamford. A third partner, Giovanni Gentile, operates a restaurant, bar, and crepes eatery in Stamford, Backon said.
Backon said there was too much work to do in renovating the kitchen and restaurant areas, thus delaying the opening to sometime in the winter. He emphasized, however, that the restaurant would operate year round and, as required, provide a special menu for golfers.
Backon noted he was a longtime visitor to Splash and said his two daughters worked as hostesses there.
At the outset of the discussion, First Selectman Jim Marpe emphasized that board would only focus on the restaurant subtenant. He said it was not the occasion for a discussion of the overall lease agreement with Tagert, last negotiated in 2007 and which still has a number of years to run.
Selectman Helen Garten, who said she reviewed the last Inn at Longshore agreement as a Board of Finance member, suggested that there be a review of procedures to ensure better oversight of the lease.
Marpe agreed, as did Charles Haberstroh, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, who was tasked in overseeing these negotiations with Tagert and the new tenant.
Chip Stephens, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, told the board he had asked for his body to review the agreement but was advised by Town Attorney Ira Bloom it was not within the P&Z’s purview.
“I am troubled by the master lease and its implications for the sublease,” Stephens then went on. “As a resident, I think it is something that should be discussed, something that should be looked at, but that’s up to the Board of Selectmen. I just wanted to go on record as saying that.”
“Unfortunately there is an extensive amount of remodeling that to be done,” Marpe said following the vote, adding that the operators of Splash “have allowed the space to deteriorate.”
“BNG Group has committed to renovating the kitchen and with new equip and renovating the dining space, and that will take some time,” Marpe added.
During the meeting, the possibility of food truck alternatives for golfers was discussed, “but that is to be determined,” Marpe said.
“That certainly is not our first class goal, and the lease calls for first class dining space,” Marpe said.
“I’m confident that the ultimate product will result in a first class dining experience by the water,” he added.
—James Lomuscio contributed reporting.
Posted 05/27/15 at 12:45 PM Permalink
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That’s terrific news! Can’t wait to see the place after a serious facelift ... wow, does it need it!
And, let us know when the “patio bar” is open again ... golfers will be clammering!
Looking forward to al fresco dining at one of the loveliest locations in all of Westport.