The Pearl’s closure recalls history in Westport

Shortly after The Pearl shut its doors on Nov. 28, this message was put up on their website to thank all of its long time customers and supporters.

Photo by Theresa Vandis ’22

Shortly after The Pearl shut its doors on Nov. 28, this message was put up on their website to thank all of its long time customers and supporters.

Westport is known for being a beach town, as the location plays a significant role in town culture. Westport residents can often be seen taking strolls by the shore and walking dogs in the fall and winter, and tanning, swimming and sailing in the summer.  A significant addition to the sunset views are restaurants. However, as the pandemic surges ahead, many restaurants have been forced to close. Including the Pearl at the Longshore Club Park. 

According to the Pearl’s website, the Longshore Inn has had many famous visitors throughout its long history.

“The 1910 owner Fredrick Lewis was known to have lavish parties hosting Harry Houdini, Babe Ruth, Buffalo Bill, and F. Scott Fitzgerald,” the website says. “It is debated to be the direct inspiration for Fitzgerald’s work ‘The Great Gatsby.’” 

While some consider Westport to be a quiet town, historic connections such as this are the basis on which the Pearl first opened its doors. 

Before officially closing, The Pearl posted lots of information explaining their start, as well as background information on the owner and his credentials. (Photo courtesy of The Pearl at Longshore)

At Staples, many sophomore English classes read “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald. While reading the book last year, Molly Liles ’22 discovered the connection between the setting in Westport and the one in the book. 

“They’re so similar, especially because it overlooks the water and Nick (the main character) used to go and stare at the water,” Liles said, “and the building is so elegant.” 

Elegance is a term used to describe Bilal Barakat, the interior designer of the Pearl. 

“Many clients seek out Bilal for his high edgy, modern designs as well as his unique international perspective and his ability to stay two steps ahead of the design world,” the website states. 

It’s the design and location of the Pearl that up until its closing continued to attract customers. Seating near the fireplace kept guests warm and comfortable as they waited to eat. In addition, outdoor seating was enjoyed during warm weather and made customers feel safe in COVID times. 

The Pearl tried very hard to make their restaurant not only have amazing food, but also an experience for their guests. They even posted their amenities on their website to encourage new customers. (Photo courtesy of The Pearl at Longshore)

“The restaurant had a unique glamorous style that didn’t really fit any sort of culture,” Ethan Moskowitz ’22 said. “The design of the restaurant made you feel as if you were in some over the top old fashioned restaurant.” 

In addition to the design many of the customers were drawn by the food. With small touches such as drinks entitled “Gatsby” and “Rockefeller,” the history of the Longshore Inn echoed throughout the restaurant. Despite its closing, many Westport residents will remember the good memories enjoyed at The Pearl, but fewer will recall its significance in the town’s history. 

“It is such a unique restaurant with an amazing view and great food,” Ellie Doran ’20 said. “It is right by the water, and it has a classy feel, yet it’s not over-the-top fancy. It will be missed.”