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The Cedar Brook Café

The Cedar Brook Cafe, Westport

919 Post Road Esat, Westport

My girlfriends and I decided to patronize this bar upon hearing of its imminent closing. We knew it was a gay bar and somehow had convinced ourselves it was rife with attractive, toned men who love to dance with straight married women. Oh, the degree to which we were wrong.

The 7 of us entered fresh off a wine-soaked meal and boogied past the near-empty bar to the dance floor. We busted several moves while the disco lights flashed off the mirrored paneling. A respectably large crowd gyrated and flailed about with us in the small room, waving their arms and trying to dance like Justin Timberlake. Then I realized we were just seeing our reflection in the paneling…

We did have company: 12 or so young Hispanic men and women draped over chairs and each other, limp with boredom.

The Brook was established in 1939 as Cedar Brook Inn, accepting gay customers at a time when homosexuality was outlawed. The owners sold the Inn in 1973 to Paul Kish who changed it to the bar currently known as The Cedar Brook Café. It was once celebrated as the largest gay bar in the U.S. with the highest liquor sales (the merits of the latter are debatable and, I imagine, not mutually exclusive from the former, especially in the ‘70s.) Recently it has become a haven for blacks and Hispanics.

Due to decreased traffic and high rent, current owner Clem Bellairs had to end the party on June 26, 2010. According to Westportnow.com, “’Westport is turning into every other town,’ [Bellairs] says about a more staid, suburban lifestyle that has supplanted the dance club scene that burgeoned in the 1980s.” Which kind of makes me feel… directly responsible.

Of special and sentimental note, the strip club across the street, Krazy Vin’s, changed into a Starbucks. I wonder if they changed the bathrooms, too.

 

Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 • Permalink

Patricia Funt Antiques

Patricia Funt Antiques, New Canaan

110 Main Street, New Canaan

It’s not often one walks into an antique shop and walks out with 3 sterling napkin rings and a capsule history of an extinct species. But it’s not often one sees a genuine curiosity shop the likes of Dodo enthusiast Patricia Funt’s, well-stocked with Black Forest carvings and various other collectibles and curios.

Funt, an antiques dealer for 30 years, is best known for her English imports (including her gregarious English husband, Ken Oxman.)  Known for “small” rarities (“the only furniture we sell are the display pieces”) this shop has sated collectors and gift-buyers in the area for 12 years. Sadly, like the flightless bird from Mauritius, they will soon disappear from Main Street, though their business will continue thrive on their website (unlike the ingenuous Dodo, which “wandered up to sailors, got knocked on the head and eaten, just like that.”)

In the interim, stop by and enjoy their whimsical and interesting store until the end of July.

Robin’s note: Customers receive a 20-30% discount off of everything in stock.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women ages 40-70, buying gifts or augmenting collections.

Their specialty: Children’s pottery, silver napkin rings, and nautical items.

What you should buy: Just about anything.

What you may not know but should: Dodos didn’t taste very good, they were just readily available and easy to tackle.
http://www.patriciafuntantiques.com

Home + Garden     New Canaan    
Monday, June 28, 2010 • Permalink

Comptoir Des Contonniers

Comptoir Des Cotonniers, Greenwich

271 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich

I’m always delighted to find something new on Greenwich Avenue, so this boutique (loosely and probably inaccurately translated on iGoogle as “Cotton Counter”) made me sufficiently giddy. After a bit of research, I discovered that their parent company, UNIQLO, is peppering the entire NYC area with these little boutiques. So they may not be new for long.

Clearly, however, they’re popular, and for good reason. The clothes are comfortable, affordable, and machine-washable (which, granted, sounds as glamorous as a pork rind, but moms have to think about these things.) The designs are simple, elegant, and feminine, but never precious. The colors are subtle to encourage mixing and matching separates. Plus, they’re tinkering with a new line of super cute toddler clothes, so you can mix and match with your daughter before they’re old enough to resent you for it.

Robin’s note: I’d argue their chic collection is almost practical. Though I doubt they’d ever bill themselves as such. That would definitely put their glamour quotient on par with a fried pig part.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women age 25-55 who fall somewhere between the Anthropologie and Lacoste customer.

Their specialty: Cotton trench coat.

What you should buy: Breezy summer dresses.

What you may not know by should:
  1. CDC holds open casting calls for “Mother/Daughter” models each year. Greenwich is hosting the casting call this October, the specific date will be posted at the store. Though there is no age restriction per se, daughters should at least be in their early teens. The winners will be featured in an advertising campaign and will walk the runway in Paris.
  2. CDC gives to a number of charities around the world, focusing on mothers, their children, and troubled teenage girls.
http://www.mothers-and-daughters.com

Fashion     Greenwich    
Monday, June 21, 2010 • Permalink

Top This Yogurt

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14 Post Road, Westport

I like frozen yogurt but, let’s be honest, ice cream is better. Those who insist otherwise are either lying or on a diet. Yet this new frozen yogurt spot hot spot has been packing in customers since its Grand Opening so, yeah, it piqued my curiosity.

Now I know why. TTY is totally cool. The yogurt is good – non-fat and whatever – but you don’t go for the yogurt. You go for the sundae bar fantasy because everything is self-serve, neatly designed, and easily obtained. And because the yogurt is non-fat, you can easily trick yourself into thinking you’ve created a low-fat, low-calorie sundae out of mini M&Ms, toffee crunch and crushed Oreos. Or maybe that’s just me. But, judging by the size of the sundaes on nearby tables, I doubt it.

As well, TTY has taken advantage of Westport’s new outdoor seating ordinance and placed two benches outside the shop, graciously accommodating those who enjoy eating food near traffic during the hot summer months.

Robin’s note: Yogurt with topping is $.59/ounce, so watch the kids carefully when they descend upon the toppings bar or you’ll be stuck with a $30 tab for 4 very heavy sundaes.

Who you’ll see eating here: Teenagers and young families.

Their specialty: Make-your-own sundae.

What you should order: Make-your-own sundae.

What you may not know but should:
  1. Hungry teens descend around 2-3 PM, so avoid it around that time unless you like large crowds of young people awkwardly flirting with each other.
  2. TTY’s employees are among those young people and are charming, hard-working, and efficient. I was impressed.

Dining     Westport    
Thursday, June 17, 2010 • Permalink

Pathways, Inc.

175 Milbank Avenue, Greenwich

No doubt you’ve noticed that mentally challenged and handicapped individuals are enjoying a renaissance as the butt of numerous witticisms and escapades in major motion pictures. However – and you all know where I’m going with this – mental illness isn’t very funny. Thankfully, individuals in FC with chronic mental illness are finally getting the attention and support they need to create and lead productive lives.

For years, our society eschewed mental illness, deeming it incurable or, even worse, behavioral. Pathways was created to address this problem, giving hope and a hand by providing homes, medical and health services, and jobs to mentally ill individuals.

Who they are: “Pathways, Inc. was established in 1981 by Greenwich families responding to the needs of relatives and others who were discharged from psychiatric hospitals following long periods of institutionalization and were often homeless or living in substandard dwellings.” - website

What they do: Pathways seeks to “prevent homelessness and repeated hospitalizations by creating housing and support services that enable adults with mental illness to manage their symptoms and live independently and productively in their home community. Today the agency also targets services to adults who have been cared for at home by family, often aging parents concerned about how to ensure good long-term care for their children…

Click to read the rest ... "Pathways, Inc."

Give     Greenwich    
Thursday, June 10, 2010 • Permalink

Dovecote

Dovecote, Westport

56 Post Road East, Westport

In Westport, if you want to compliment a home’s interior you say, “It looks like Dovecote” whether or not it really does. That’s because Dovecote has become such a design institution in this area, its name has become synonymous with fabulous taste. The real Dovecote style is all about brilliant color, interesting texture, and eye-catching patterns against a neutral backdrop. Furry poufs snuggle against leather-upholstered Lucite stools and the mirrored dressers sparkle beneath bubbly glass orbs and the inexplicably popular white porcelain Buddha head.

Robin’s note: The store is so sumptuous; one is tempted to touch everything. Which is fine, unless the “one” is a small child whose vision is to touch and moisten every sparkling surface with his tongue and screams like an alley cat getting de-clawed without anesthetic the moment his dream is shattered.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women 25-80 years old who own homes.

Their specialty: Upholstered Lucite furniture and French antiques.

What you should buy: Lucite coffee tables and beautiful, unique accessories.

What you may not know but should:
  1. Their legendary semi-annual warehouse sale is so greatly anticipated, the well-dressed bargain-hunters line up around the block before it opens. Which is why most of the good stuff is purchased, packed-up and cleared-out out in the first 30 minutes.
  2. The owner, Sarah Kaplan, travels to France 6 times a year to personally select the antiques.
http://www.dovecote-westport.com

Home + Garden     Westport    
Monday, June 07, 2010 • Permalink

Rahelia

Rahelia's, Westport

125 Post Road East, Westport

From the moment you step inside this boutique—bristling with chiffon, crystal, and sequin gowns—Rahelia (or “Rachel” in Engish easy-speak) will make you feel like the most glamorous, lovable person in the world.

A 30-year retail/formal wear veteran, she’ll personally festoon you from top-to-toe in an ensemble you won’t find anywhere else in FC. If you leave empty-handed she won’t even care: she’s just happy to have met you. In fact, Rahelia and Akram Enany (at 4 @ 1 next door) are so lovely, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bambi and his woodland friends hanging around their shops, offering daisies and sunshine to all who enter, whether they buy something or not.

Robin’s note: As I explained in yesterday’s write-up, I’ve only been called a “tastemaker” by two people in my life: me and my husband. Maybe my mom. So when I say I like one dress in Rahelia’s, it doesn’t mean you won’t love the others. I strongly recommend you go there when buying your next black tie gown, or at least go in to browse and meet my other new best friend.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women ages 35-80 year olds working the charity circuit.

Their specialty: Colorful floor-length gowns: surprisingly, and refreshingly, few black dresses.

What you should buy: Red jersey gown and fun costume jewelry.

What you may not know but should: If you don’t fall in love with a dress on the floor, in the back of the store she has hundreds more.

Fashion     Westport    
Friday, June 04, 2010 • Permalink