By Muggsy Barnacle
Karp’s Fowle Ball
Chili & Chowder
Blue Mermaid (Colored by Brown)
Middle & Liberty
The Big Bear Dip
The news delivered by The Daily News that Newburyport Development (read Steve Karp) is reviewing the leases of the legendary (founded 1852) newsstand of Fowle’s News and its adjoining luncheonette…the leases are up in May 2012…now it is hinted that the Karpsters are eying the spaces for one 3,000-square-foot restaurant…no one can argue that other uses will produce far more profits than the two currently holding court there…the newspaper, magazine, and greeting card related businesses have been battered by the internet and a smaller and better designed newsstand would work…a luncheonette could be located, almost anywhere……the real issue that must be addressed is what is going to happen to the art deco historical interior and exterior of the building…is there any way to save such…some wags say the art deco exterior sign can not be saved…so sad…whatever happened to the old-fashioned phone booth at Fowle’s?…we would hate to see any memorabilia items show up for sale at the Oldies Marketplace…but we have been wrong in the past…this column feels that a new restaurant will hold roost at Fowle’s come May, but the-powers-to-be most likely elected to inform The General Public (you) now about the suggested change to avoid a s*#t show the likes of the White Hen Pantry and The Black Duck…announce it now and see what happens with the historical and preservationist watchdogs…if the deal goes through (yes, this column feels it is a done deal in some fashion) there certainly will be a State Street Restaurant Row of renown…still, the dismantling of NBPT’s history and charm will be lost to progress.
…Some rather clever people have suggested the same restaurant’s front door could actually be created on Middle Street across from the Grog al Fresco (outside dining style) utilizing (and sprucing up) that block of nondescript warehouse buildings queuing into the existing State Street space for inside dining freeing up some of the front State Street space…and allowing the soda fountain counter to stay as a bar …the general thought these days is that Fowle’s present space could cost millions to make a restaurant out of it unless you are a billionaire developer…we are anxiously looking forward to see the blueprints on how Mr. Karp will balance the future with the past.
…Congrats to Michael’s Harborside upon winning the local Chili Con Carnival Cook-off at the Grog…#2 winner was Bucciarelli’s Butcher Shop & Deli of Salisbury…close by were The Thirsty Whale and Loretta Restaurant …same applause goes to the Starboard Galley upon scoring #1 in the chowder competition at the Newburyport Maritime Museum’s Chowder Fest…chef Chris Abenante and his stellar crew deserve that blue ribbon for their Southwest chicken-corn chowder…in fact, it is reported the Starboard gathered more votes than all the other restaurants combined…Michael’s checked in at #2 followed by Ipswich Clambake.
…A fond farewell to Mike Langmaid, a gentle man and a gentleman, who enjoyed his friends and family in a grand – yet modest and blue-collar fashion…Mike was locally an important carpenter in the construction trade…more importantly, he was always a man with a giant smile on his face who celebrated Life each day with a tool belt at the ready…recently the famed and celebrated annual Foliage Bear Dip took place at John & Agnes Donovan’s Plum Island waterfront manse…a record 45+ celebrants plunged into the ocean as quickly as they could so that they would not miss any of the day and night-long party…such was a record number of splashers that originally started out with but a few crazies (excuse me, participants)…the food offerings should be finished by Thanksgiving unless the New England Patriots stop by…as always, a great time was had by all into the next day and as usual John announced that this would be absolutely the last year he would host this dip, the same mantra he has preached for the first fourteen…we fully expect the Dip to return next year with more dippers despite John’s protests…Agnes is probably already starting cooking up the banquet for next year.
…Mission Oak Grill and chef Chris Hirtle have parted way…Mr. Hirtle is an unforgettable character with his nonstop enthusiasm and exceptional cooking skills…he will be missed
…Joel Brown penned an absolutely entertaining modern day murder mystery called Mirror Ball Man that was set in Libertyport last year…to this columnist it read quite like is was set in Newburyport…its central and fringe characters and landmarks seemed to be composites of quite and not so quite familiar people and places…some are rather easy to identify and others take ingenuity and homework to reveal…the book is a delightful journey through modern day events that often produced laughter, awe, and appreciation of how Mr. Brown captured the heart and soul of our historic waterfront wonderland, and respect for his captivating style of writing…a sequel Blue Mermaid has just hit the bookstores…and this columnist also just met Mr. Brown…he is a much accomplished storyteller in person as he is in print…we met at the Rum House…conversation flowed effortlessly with the 40-year old establishment’s owner and its electric and eclectic characters…if you been to Newburyport you have been to the Rum House… if you live in Our Fair Port or appreciate it, this is the book for you…but you have to solve the mystery.
…Why do we keep hearing that Popovers, that most popular Portsmouth, NH foodie spot (owned by Hampton, NH’s The Galley Hatch), is coming to town? …ditto, what restaurant is ready to unveil a menu of $2.50 appetizers? … Yes, we all have read about the impending sale of the legendary Joseph’s Winter Street Café, but due to tricky deadline dates we are going to hold off until next column as such is a quixotic adventure with this sale…next column we will have plenty to say …the Stoplight Café on Middle Street, opened not that many traffic lights ago, has elected to close its traffic lane and doors…you will not believe which local biz is seriously considering taking over the space!
…This column was astounded to hear about the future plans of a certain development company to eventually (we are talking but a few fast track years here) to buy a great portion of Middle Street properties and develop into retail, restaurant, and residence mix…watch for a certain Middle Street major player to retool his real estate to kick off this idea and keep an eye on Liberty Street to follow…this columnist has no problem with this scenario as such would extend the “downtown” grid to Ten Center Street,, Enzo, Starboard Galley, and The Tannery Marketplace…my friends, that is exactly how Boston’s famed Newbury Street transformed itself 30+ years ago…that plan didn’t work out too badly, hey…Ciao!