More on Nielsen’s

Wow. Google “Nielsen’s ice cream Greenwich” and you find lots of interesting stuff, including this remembrance by George Davol:

Greenwich Avenue had the most places to find “youth” foods. I recall the following, starting at the top of the Avenue and working down. One of the very first stores at the top on the left was Nielsen’s Ice Cream (the building torn down when the Pickwick Arms was torn down). Unlike the Nielsen’s, we hung out at near the high school, this was strictly a place to get ice cream and buy candies such as chocolates. It was a real ice cream parlor which had great and gooey sundaes, cones, banana splits, and the always hard to finish “belly buster”. A little ways down on the right was Mark’s Brothers for the candy and for comics. Still further down was Vaudry’s Drug which had a lunch counter and a few stores away was Greenwich Drug which had a luncheon/soda fountain. It was a place of employment later on for me, Clark Sorensen, George Lamonica, Rey Redington, and many others. Across the street during my younger years was Whelan’s Drug Store (I think it later became the Sport Shop). It too had a lunch counter, but the best part was the Root Beer Floats, the Root Beer coming out of a big Hire’s Root Beer barrel – one of my all-time favorites. Back across the street near Greenwich Drug in later high school years was a place called Garden Poultry, a 60s version of Boston Chicken, but much better! After that there were no “snack” places until you got just past Mead’s Stationary. It was a local pre-Nielsen’s hangout for earlier GHS classes called the Green Witch. It wasn’t fancy but served the usual hamburgers, sodas, ice cream etc. Further down on the left hand side at the corner across from Town Hall was Finch’s Drug which also had a lunch/soda counter.

About half way down on the same side and right near or in front of the “Big Clock” was perhaps the oldest “step-back-in-time” I don’t recall the name but it was a real old-time ice cream soda fountain, complete with the marble counter, fountain equipment, etc. It must have gone out of business by around 1950 or 1951 as I only remember going there once or twice. On the other side of the Avenue across the corner

from the Greenwich Theater was the Star Restaurant. It was owned and run by 61′ classmate Ed Nicosia’s family. Not fancy, but a local favorite that had good food.

Along Putnam Ave there were not many places, the exception being another Finch’s Drug Store, and, of course, The White Diner, the only place I recall that was open 24 hours in Greenwich. Dining out at restaurants with the family was infrequent, but when we did, the choice was usually The Clam Box, Manero’s and (I think it was called) The Homestead in Byram for Pizza – one of the very few places in the early years that you could buy a pizza in Greenwich. Later on other places to eat became popular. Nielsen’s, was of course a favorite of many GHS students before and after high school, but because I and other friends lived near it we made it a regular hang out

for all times. I think it was built around 1957 and lasted until about the mid 70s until it was torn down to make a parking lot (pave paradise and put up a parking lot, as the song goes). Once we discovered “wheels” our range expanded (no, Port Chester is a later story). There was the Cos Cobber in Cos Cob, our first taste of fast food in Greenwich, and of course, Dirty Lou’s in Cos Cob (pave paradise and put up a car dealership). Lou’s always got a knock as being a greasy-spoon, but that award really had to go to the Oasis. It was run by a couple of Greek Brothers. It lasted for many years as did the grease on the walls, windows, and everywhere! At Dirty Lou’s, Lou was no dapper-Dan and the waitress (I forget her name) always seemed annoyed at taking your order, but this mattered little as the burgers and wedges were great. In fact, Lou purchased all the hamburger meat at Manero’s, not from some no-name supplier. I know many of us miss “Dirty Lou’s”

17 Comments

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17 responses to “More on Nielsen’s

  1. anonymous

    Aside from silly communist nostalgia, have often found grub in most of US or EU (or anywhere else), simply laughable in basic quality (let’s ignore price)…..15 yrs ago, one couldn’t find a decent espresso in Midtown; even today, hard to find decent basic stuff like sandwiches or burgers or espressos or fresh-squeezed juices in places like Midtown (let alone Greenwich) while in midst of working day (sure, can get a decent dinner at Daniel or PerSe in evening, not so sure about Greenwich at any hour of day or nt)…lots of inefficiencies in capitalism…source of future wealth for some entrepreneur

  2. Chimney

    great remembrances of Greenwich in the “good old days”- two other great eateries come to mind- the infamous Hubba Hubba, and the Bennett’s deli on the corner of Manero’s. I can still remember how proud Mr & Mrs Bennett were of their son’s new business in Port Chester-Caldors.

  3. Yummy

    Thanks Chris… the 19 cent Cos Cobber hamburger still rings fresh in my mind after all these years, not to mention the (good) heartburn of the late night steak pizziola at the Hubba Hubba and the mid day roast beef wedge at Pastrami Dans. Time for dinner…

  4. Cobra

    Wonderful retrospective, GCD.

    I recall just about all you reference and remember cruising in our cars between the Cos Cobber and Dirty Lou’s looking for action of several sorts or perhaps a drag race off the Post Road.

    I also recall the rumor that dirty Lou created each hamburger patty by putting a ball of ground meat his right arm pit and smashing it flat on the down swing.

    And, talking about fine cuisine, wasn’t the Dairy Queen located very near Dirty Lou’s?

  5. Nielsen's

    I recall Neilsen’s opposite the Library. Ladd & Nichols had found my parents an affordable rental on a back country estate. We celebrated there after signing a lease. Went to the Clam Box post graduation from high school. Manero’s was the place for greasy onion rings and a fair steak. For those not belonging to a country club, these family owned places were our clubs. So Greenwiuch has lost a lot to the developers turning space into profit.

    • christopherfountain

      Space into profit? Don’t forget, Nick Manero wasn’t churning out those (delicious) greasy fried onions out of charity. His heirs chose to close the restaurant and sell to “developers” and that, of course, is their choice – I bet they were glad to get the money, too. Doesn’t mean I don’t miss the place.

  6. Nielsen's Again

    Just reminding people that when a family owned place goes away to a developer (like Manero’s), you usually don’t get it back again. Economics change a place. Greenwich has risen and is now falling. Ten years from now, 2018, most road arteries in Greenwich will be super widened to handle the congestion. This will finally put the blemish on the place.

    It is the people who make a town. Most of the nicest people moved away to places up in Vermont or back to their mid-West roots after retiring. The new money that came to the town just ruined it.

    The decision to tear down the old hospital is another fine example. The old was just fine.

    I am still looking for that next Greenwich from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Do not miss Greenwich a bit now seeing the changes. Some people say the best places are out West, perhaps it is Wyoming. I’ll let you know when I find it.

    Some people like yourself are true blood Greenwich-ites. But if you are honest with yourself, you will confess you see more negative in the town now than ever before. Familiarity is your glue. Are you going to wait until they build a double decker highway at 95 to convince you that Greenwich for what it is, a was-been town? I hope not.

  7. Jane

    I remember Pastrami Dan’s. Just can’t remember the location. Remember when Valbella was the Gaslight?

  8. pulled up in OG

    Greenwich Plaza was the turning point . . . downhill ever since.

    As for the old hospital, it was an obsolete dump. But at least it was a local one.

    • christopherfountain

      Don’t forget who was responsible for Greenwich Plaze, Pulled up – our own Lowell Weiker, then First Selectman, sold the air rights over the lot there to permit his friend and campaign financer, Ashforth (the exact name escapes me) to build those huge buildings that cut off the view of Long Island Sound from the Avenue – destroyed one of the prettiest featurs of downtown Greenwoch for – ready? $15,000. Weiker went on to Watergate fame and then came back as Governor where, still harboring a deep hatred for his own town, installed the income tax. Whattaguy.

  9. 2112

    I miss the “blackened” burger at Tumbledown’s (now Ku) in CC as well as the fair priced wine and drinks….although you could die from the second hand smoke walking through the bar.

  10. Anonymous

    Taco Joe’s!!

  11. Chimney

    It was Henry Ashforth, and you can add Lowell’s buddy Brad Magill to the list- believe he was head of P&Z at the time. I can still remember what a beautiful view it was of the sound looking down the Ave from the Pickwick Arms.

  12. pulled up in OG

    Weicker also had something to do with the Lyon Farm development. Seems like that place has had a bubble all its own for a few decades.

  13. Red

    Ku (ex-Tumbledowns) is gone now too. 😦

  14. Lorin

    our grandmother used to take me to a pastrami place on the Post Road…near a bowling alley, where Shop rite is now I think… and the Clam Box……yummm….