WESTPORT — There may still be a high tide of social distancing, but a rejuvenated beachside mainstay hopes to help bring area residents back together.

Joey’s By The Shore Featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffee Bar has opened for business at 222 Hillspoint Road in the historic building on the corner of Compo Hill Avenue, across from Old Mill Beach.

After a rent dispute with the town prompted Joey Romeo to close his beloved restaurants at Compo Beach and Longshore Club Park last year, after 32 years of operation, a new partnership with the relatively new owner of Elvira’s appears to be a fortuitous match.

“He has 30-plus years of experience running a business and I was coming in with next to none,” said Betsy Kravitz, who purchased Elvira’s a year and a half ago.

When she and her husband Hal came out to Westport two years ago from Los Angeles, the realtor took them to the Elvira’s first thing as an introduction to the neighborhood they now call home.

“We had heard rumblings that it was potentially for sale,” she said, so they moved forward and bought it.

The first year, however, was intense and they saw there was a need for a partner.

“We met, kind of fell in love with each other, on a friendship level of course, and it kind of all just worked out,” Kravitz said of Romeo.

“And he comes in with this fabulous reputation in the neighborhood,” she said. “Everyone knows him and loves him.”

“After Betsy read about us leaving the beach, she contacted us,” Romeo said. “She thought it would be a great thing for us to join forces and do something.”

“I think it’ll be a home run for him,” said Brian Sikorski, a neighborhood resident.

“It’s kind of a good place to come down and commiserate with neighbors and stuff,” he said of Elvira’s “I think as the pandemic ends it’s going to be a good place for the neighborhood.”

While it was originally due to open April 3, COVID-19 delayed that. The pair finally decided it would be safe to start up Saturday, May 2, with a limited menu available for takeout throughout the day.

“We felt comfortable enough that it should open,” Kravitz said. “And it kind of felt like the neighborhood needed it — a little sign of hope and happiness.”

“I think the whole neighborhood is happy,” said Maggy Anstey, who lives nearby.

“You have to have a water hole,” said her husband, Josey Anstey.

“It’s such a great community,” Romeo said, noting that the new location combines the best of the two establishments — food, coffee and, down the road, different offerings like flowers, specialty foods and other items.

“Our lobster rolls are probably what we’re best known for,” he said, noting that kids are especially fond of their French fries.

“It’s a relief,” said customer Ben Sturner, who is thrilled to be able to get food in the neighborhood during the day without having to travel out to the Post Road.

“Small businesses in Westport,” he said, “that’s the way to go.”