Friday, August 15, 2014
(Editor’s Note: This is another in our occasional series, WN Spotlight, featuring people and places that make our town special.)
By Larissa Lieberson
There’s nothing better than the smell of warm, freshly glazed donuts. Nothing, perhaps, besides the taste of them, especially when they are handmade each morning at Westport’s Coffee An’ Donut Shop.
Located at 343 Main St. in a shopping strip that includes Ace Hardware and the Merritt Country Store, this old time donut shop has become a local legend. Daily, people from all walks of life seem to find their way to this rare sanctuary rich in unpretentiousness and a sweet sense of community.
From the moment one steps into the shop, one spies people reading newspapers, talking to each other across tables and the counter, and just letting their hair down.
Regulars credit George Vlandis and his family for the comfortable vibe. Vlandis took over the shop 22 years ago after selling his pizza restaurant in Fairfield. From pizza, Vlandis turned his focus on something sweeter – donuts, glazed, chocolate frosted, coconut, jelly, cinnamon and marble twists. Muffins, too.
The restaurateur also decided to offer an array of breakfast and lunch specials from bagels and bacon and eggs, gyros, sandwiches and more. But donuts remain Vlandis’ calling card.
“The donuts are really popular,” said Elias Vlandis, George’a son, who took over ownership from his father. “They all go pretty fast.”
So popular, in fact, that President Bill Clinton, who visited Westport several times during his presidency, as did his wife Hillary, reportedly called them the best donuts he’d ever had. Vlandis, who is hooked on politics, once gave donuts to a White House employee who enjoyed them so much, he invited the Vlandis family to Democratic party fund raisers.
Not only did the former president of the United States favor Coffee ‘An, but so did local celebrities, including the late Paul Newman, Melissa Joan Hart and former Weston resident Robert Redford, all who became regulars.
Pictures on the walls, lots of them, attest to the Coffee ‘An donut connections to the high and mighty, and many others.
Even a new movie, “And So It Goes,” featuring Michael Douglas, who grew up in Westport, showcases Coffee ‘An’s donuts.
“Last summer, Rob Reiner was filming the movie and had breakfast here every day,” explained Vlandis. “He loved the donuts so much that he decided to put them in the movie and has the characters eating them.”
Yet despite the nationwide attention Coffee ‘An has received, including mentions in USA Today and The New York Times, the casual, community feeling of the shop remains..
“Our whole family loves it here,” said Martin Fox, a longtime customer. “It’s the first place my kids want to go to when they are in town.”
Posted 08/15/14 at 09:25 AM Permalink