Mystic Market opens newest eatery in Westport
WESTPORT — Having enjoyed two very different kinds of careers — as a professional ballet dancer and a soldier in the U.S. Army serving two tours of duty in the Middle East — David Griswold Jr. stepped in two years ago to help his father revitalize a food market in Old Saybrook that was having some struggles.
Owing to his success there, Griswold became point-person and general manager of the new Mystic Market kitchen and eatery that opened Monday morning in Westport.
“We’ve been doing 11-hour days the past week,” he said, leading a staff of 60 at the new store at 60 Charles St., the former site of the mainstay Arrow Restaurant, which operated there for almost 60 years through 1991.
Mystic Market offers a wide range of gourmet foods-to-go that are made on site, as well as a selection of baked goods and charcuterie items, much of it sourced in the state.
“We don’t have one specific type of genre food, so we really try to cater to everyone’s flavor needs and dietary needs,” Griswold said, including selections for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free offerings.
“We have six different soups or chowders everyday,” he said, as well pastries, gluten-free pizza and a wide selection of sandwiches and salads that are made fresh each morning.
“The operation in the back of the house is massive,” he said, with employees required to take a certified food-handling course.
Along with table seating, visitors to the roomy market will find a unique quick-order computer console. With a swipe of a card, customers also have the option to keep their favorite sandwich on file to expedite ordering.
“We want to make sure that every customer is happy,” manager Button Kraft said. “We hire for that and then we teach everybody the skills they need.”
She noted comment cards encourage feedback from customers.
“We want any guest that comes to any of our locations to feel like they’re coming home,” she said.
Mystic Market — the fourth store following those in Old Saybrook, and two in Mystic — is part of Coastal Gourmet, Inc., founded by Charles Spathakis in 1993, which also includes several restaurants and catering operations.
“If it wasn’t for him and his vision, none of this would have happened,” Griswold’s father, David, who is senior vice president, said of Spathakis. “It’s grown into this amazing company.”
“We’re very excited to be part of the Westport community,” Griswold Sr. said, noting the big trend in food right now is markets such as this.
“We’re very, very excited for it,” he said. “I think we have a great crew (and) we put out an exceptional product. ... Everything we do is restaurant-quality, because we own restaurants.”
“So far, so good,” said Roberta Rose, of Westport, who was the first customer through the door at 10 a.m.
“They had a little trouble with the cash register, but we were the first people to enter,” she said, sampling the butternut squash soup, which she commented was very good.
“It looks nice,” she said of the market. “Nice and clean.”
“I love it,” said Susan Balla, of Fairfield, who was exploring the many prepared food options. “It looks great and it’s a very convenient location.”