Another dining landmark lost: Red Barn closes doors
Updated 7:07 am, Saturday, July 18, 2015
Another of Westport’s most venerable dining establishments has served its last meal.
The Red Barn, a landmark on Wilton Road for more than five decades, was closed last week by the Nistico family, who owned the restaurant since 1983.
In a message on the restaurant’s website — and a hand-written note on the door — the Nisticos this week made the closing official. “Thank you for your many years of patronage and support!” they stated on the website.
Calls to the Nisticos for comment were not immediately returned. The family had previously owned the Arrow restaurant in the Saugatuck area.
The Red Barn’s closing comes not long after another longtime dining spot — Mario’s, the haunt next to the Saugatuck Railroad Station — was shut down after being sold in April.
Persistent rumors that the property may be purchased by the Westport Weston Family Y, which recently completed its new complex on the nearby Mahackeno campus, could not be confirmed this week.
“The Y is not able to provide a comment at this time,” Scott Smith, the Y’s communications director, said Tuesday. He said, however, he had received several media inquiries about the speculated transaction.
The Nistico family had owned and operated the Arrow since 1932, before taking over and renovating the Red Barn in 1983.
Last year, the restaurant received town approval to open a small 12-seat patron bar in the building, also permitting it to stay open longer hours.
“I am shocked,” Linette Thompson of Westport, who was taken by surprise by the restaurant’s closing. On Monday afternoon, she drove into the restaurant’s parking lot expecting it would be open for lunch only to discover the small, handwritten sign on the door that simply said, “Closed.”
“Cheech (Nistico) and his brother are so lovely, and his son works there at the bar,” she said. “They seemed to be doing well and I’m just very sorry to hear they’re closing.”
Thompson said she dined at the restaurant “off and on for 30 years,” she said, “and came regularly in the last couple of years. It was just a nice place to meet friends.”
“I called them today and no one answered,” she said. “I thought they were just closing for a holiday for a week or two.”