OH MY GOD! The grocery store of the old mill saved!

The market/deli at the foot of Compo Hill has served the Old Mill district – and Westport – for nearly 100 years.

Now he is ready for his next 100.

A group of concerned and active residents achieved the near-impossible: in just 2 months, they raised the purchase price by $1.51 million. With boundless energy, great creativity – and the help of dozens of other concerned citizens – they ensured that one of the city’s last local landmarks did not fall to a wrecking ball.

Checked in! The sign says it all.

And while they’re at it, they’ll provide training and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Old Mill Grocery & Deli – which I’m sure will soon be called OMG by all – is a nod to the past, with an eye to the future. Old Mill Grocery & Deli was actually its original name, back in the 1920s. For decades it’s been called Kenny’s, Elvira’s and Joey’s by the Shore.

The original Old Mill Grocery & Deli.

Now it’s not just a market/grocery anymore, but a non-profit organization. Its 501(c)(3) pending status allows for the purchase and preservation of the historic gem, as well as employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Mission Statement — “Preserving History. Serve well” says it all.

But it wouldn’t have been possible without 100 donors, who donated the first million dollars; Another 450 clicked on GoFundMe to add nearly $300,000 more. Contributors came primarily from Westporters, but included former residents who fondly remember the neighborhood store.

Fairfield County Bank, which provided a mortgage to fill the gap.

Organizers Jim Hood, Ian Warburg, Chris Tait and Emily Ashken Zobl also praised city officials, the Selected Women’s Office and other departments, for their “incredibly supportive” assistance.

Jim Hood (left) and Ian Warburg, in front of their new business..

So when will OMG open?

The new owners are discussing with several potential operators/partners. An agreement will be signed soon.

Supply chain issues created long lead times for some kitchen equipment. There may be a soft open, with a partial menu, at first.

“We’re here for the long, long term!” the group said.

But the short-term gain is already there. Last night Jim and Ian were hanging a sign announcing the opening this summer.

A woman pushing a newborn baby in a stroller saw the scene – and wept with joy.

Until today, fundraising continues. Naming rights opportunities exist for new partners to supply some or all of the kitchen equipment, pizza oven, beverage coolers, community table and chairs, picnic tables and umbrellas, espresso and soft ice cream machines, delivery scooters and more. Signage and recognition will be provided. Email [email protected] for more information.

OH MY GOD! It’s really happening!