Tag Archives: black friday

Clintons of Fun?

As you diligent readers know, Emme and I have put the Bluefish Capital of Connecticut on Colbertsian notice. How is it possible that the former summer home of beloved children’s author/illustrator Dr. Seuss could get our collective Irish up? It’s easy – Clinton now has the distinction of being the only town that we have had to TWICE drudge our exceedingly busy and important selves to in order to give it a proper OneSixNining.  The fact that we couldn’t properly evaluate a town of 16 square miles of land (13 thousand people!) in one day is a problem, considering that we later schooled North Branford in just a few hours and that has 25 square miles of land.  We also are totally awesome at looking up towns on wikipedia.  In case you didn’t already know that.

See Something

Clinton: Day 1 was Black Friday. We thought we’d kick off the Christmas shopping season by checking out the scene at the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets. Emme and I would be lying if we said we were Clinton Crossing newbies.  I mean, we’re not shopaholics or anything, but I’m starting to get to know some of the staff at the J.Crew store. Black Friday is a special day in the retailverse, however, and I’ve never seen Clinton Crossing so busy. Deal-hunters were out in full force ready to get their hands on the legendary brands, abundant selection and real savings.

Great deals!

The line at Coach.

Do Something

Of course, Emme and I weren’t there just to observe the Black Friday shoppers. You can’t expect us to visit a premium outlet mall and not partake.  We, too, perused the “abundant selection” and made some purchases at J. Crew. Stores we also love include Banana Republic, the Nike store, Coach and Polo Ralph Lauren. Stores we elected to pass by include Dress Barn, Dress Barn Woman, Juicy Couture and the Crocs store.

Some of the stores at Clinton Crossing

Saks outlet all decked out for the holidays

Eat Something

After the outlets we headed over to Hanami, a Japanese restaurant on Route 1. If you want to know what we had, well, you can just screw off. It was a month ago. Stop expecting so much from us, okay? I can tell you we weren’t disappointed. It was a nice place.  Interruption by Emme:  I know that I had the sushi — super yum!  Our dining companion had something soup-based.  I forget what Elle had.  But it was all totally tasty, and the waitress was very prompt and friendly.  Recommend!

Drink Something

After Hanami we made our way to the center of Clinton to The Coffee Break. Alas, The Coffee Break (and it appears, almost all of Clinton) was closed. It wasn’t a huge surprise as it was after 6:00 the day after a holiday. Emme and I decided we’d return to Clinton at a later date to drink something and talk to someone.

Fast forward about three weeks. (During this time, Emme and Elle survived a Nor’Easter, were shocked by the relevations of Tiger Woods’s extramarital affairs, and completely lost track of what is going on in the health care debate.) Now older, wiser, and possibly facing higher taxes on our Cadillac health care plans, we returned to Clinton at 3:00 the Wednesday before Christmas. And what did we find? The Coffee Break – closed. Again. Malone’s Sandwich and Coffee House? Closed. Some other place we saw that I forgot the name of? Closed. Determined, we drove along Route 1 in search of someplace to “Drink Something.” Seeing an ironically snow-covered sign for a place called Beach Donut Shop, we stopped there, thinking we might be able to score a coffee.

Emme has informed me that this photo is funny

Turns out Beach Donut (not to be confused with “Donut Beach,” the tastiest of the unmade Frankie and Annette movies) focuses more on bulk rather than individual donut sales. A cafe it is not. Plus, you walk in and you’re pretty much in the middle of the donut-making action. We did snag a couple of their very yummy products but it was, in Emme’s words, “the most awkward donut-buying experience of my life. And I’ve bought A LOT of donuts.”  (Note from Emme: I grew up in a place called The Colonial Do-Nut Shop.  Proof of its existence circa 1983?  The place still doesn’t have a website and is closed on Sundays.  But anyways, Colonial made all their donuts by hand in the store, and clearly Beach Donut does the same thing, the difference being that Colonial is quaint and friendly, and Beach Donut is full of racks and on hipstered-out young teen trying the punk thing a few years too late.)

Ultimately, were able to get beverages at Dunkin’ Donuts, a small coffee and pastry shop on Route 81. You may have heard of it. Dunkin’ Donuts is a truly innovative patisserie. While most cafes cater to faux intellectuals, aspiring screenwriters and procrastinating graduate students (“Come, hipster, have an organic, fair trade coffee. Listen to this wonderful Joni Mitchell CD. Stay awhile. Have another coffee. Converse loudly about politics with all the wisdom and insight only a casual reading of The New Haven Advocate can provide”) this is not the scene at at Dunkin’ Donuts, coffee shop of the proletariat, whose interior charmingly proclaims “When you are finished, kindly return to your UPS route.”  (Elle’s apt description of Dunks has forced me (Emme) to add this GREAT link from a 2007 Boston Phoenix article about the Dunkin brand — a must-read for Dunkin’ devotees).

As I stepped up to the lovely rose and pumpkin-colored counter and began asking questions of the barista, I got the impression that he was not well versed in the authentic espresso method. No matter, I’m not so pretentious as to believe one must be an alumnus of a qualified Italian bar man school to make an acceptable caffelatte. I ordered a medium (coffee sizes in English? How droll!) iced caramel latte and was impressed by the both the quality and size of the drink. I wound up disposing of half of my “medium,” but carefully, so I did not spill it on myself and drown.

In short, Dunkin’ Donuts is far and away the best coffee shop in Clinton…if you’re in Clinton past 2:30 PM.

Talk To Someone

We’re getting better at this one, we swear. We did chat a little bit with the young employee at Beach Donut (again, not “Donut Beach”). At one point we asked him if we were still in Clinton or if we had crossed over into Westbrook. He wasn’t entirely sure. Maybe we aren’t missing out on much by not talking to people on these outings.

Lessons in Connecticuting
  1. Shoreline towns are not good late-fall-early-winter destinations.  Emme’s other life is in a beach community, so she should have known better, but whatever.  Clinton, you have a giant supermall.  You should have one coffee shop that ISN’T Dunks be open after 2:30.  On a weekend. Furthermore, many CT towns have a town green.  In most of these towns, outside the green you can find a bunch of chain stores and not much else.  This is absolutely true for Clinton.
  2. We’re not closed-minded; we’d love to see the inside of the Coffee Break and find out if Malone’s sandwiches are the best in town.  If you’re reading this, proprietors, we accept your invitations for some free samples and will gladly update this entry.  But it better be free.  We spent all our money on gas driving to Clinton.  TWICE.
  3. We really shouldn’t have to talk to someone in every town.  The Beach Donut kid didn’t even know where he worked.  I don’t know which this reflects more poorly on — Beach Donuts, their employees, or Clinton’s memorability.
  4. Splitting a town into two visits isn’t the terrible idea we thought it would be, and I’m glad Elle didn’t try to lie to you and pretend we did it all in one day.  Cause she thought about lying to you, you know.
  5. Everything good in life comes from Massachusetts.  Dunkin Donuts, the only place we could find a beverage in Clinton, is a Mass-based company.  Meaning that we should abandon OneSixNine and reconsider ThreeFiveOne.  Obviously this is Emme writing.  But I’m just saying, Clinton did not do a whole lot to sell me on the wonders of Connecticut.

Man of LaManchester (Part One)

Yes, it took a whole week to recover from our visit to Manchester and to even START to get our thoughts and feelings on paper.  What slowed down the speedy OneSixNine writing team?  Was it the 4.748 miles?  The village charm?  Did Safety Man frighten Emme (me) so much that she couldn’t bear to look at photos of the day?

None of the above.  The real slow-down was cheesy and delicious.  And you’re going to want some.  But first… let’s learn a little bit about the Silk City.  It’s in Hartford County, and therefore wicked convenient for me.  It’s funny, how easily places like Manchester can get roped into a reputation for being a mall town… there’s actually a lot of stuff there and, for someone new to the area like me, it’s interesting to think that it used to be a major farming community and was home to lots of manufacturing plants (silk mills, actually… hence the nickname).  As you’ll eventually learn, the OneSixNine girls have assorted reasons for undertaking this grand endeavor — one of mine is definitely to see more than just the malls and parking lots and highways.  So Manchester was a pleasant surprise.

See Something

Village Charm aside (it’s their motto, if you missed it), Manchester is definitely a big box paradise.  According to Wikipedia, the city has three museums — a firefighting museum, a children’s museum, and a town historical museum.  And yet it seems pretty clear that almost all Manchester passersby are mall-bound.  Buckland Hills, Buckland Plaza, and the confusingly named Plaza at Buckland.  No offense, Manchester, but work on the creativity a bit?

But yeah, forget the charm, the Man has got Malls.  When Elle and I got to town on Thanksgiving Eve, that was definitely the case.  After all, who doesn’t love pregaming Black Friday with a little Empty-Mall Wednesday!?

We were hoping to sit on Santa’s lap and try to negotiate a Mall Santa photo in which neither of the OneSixNine girls looked at the camera, but there’s wasn’t a Santa at the mall!  I was horrified.  They did have a holiday train, but it was closed when we got there — downgrade.

Once again, can you find Emme in this photo? (Hint: She isn't made of snow).

Eat Something

Mmmmmmmm.  Now, let me preface this by reminding you that we went to Manchester on Thanksgiving Eve, and woke up Thanksgiving morning to run a road race.  Any athlete worth her salt would know that loading up on dairy and fried food is a bad pre-race menu.  Fortunately, neither Elle nor I are particularly accomplished athletes, so we can throw caution to the wind and burgers into our mouths (a la Garfield with lasagna, I might add).  Enter: Shady Glen.

Where I Plan to Hold my Wedding Reception

Oh lord.  Things for which I am thankful: Shady Glen cheeseburgers.  The way they make the burgers greasy in the good way, perfectly formed, heavy with cheese and yet somehow with a crispy cheesy layer.  The fries are perfect.  The whole scene, it’s the sort of thing my father used to compare every burger place to (even though he’d definitely never been to the Glen), no apparent concern for fats or cholesterol, and totally in violation of any diet either OneSixNine girl has ever been on… well, except Emme’s sudden “I need to gain weight!” diet last year, which she instantly regretted.  Anyways, the Glen.  It’s more than just burgers.

But the burgers are really good, too. Look at that cheese!

We also decided to take advantage of that 1950s feel and not worry about adding some ice cream to our order.  Especially since they had some seasonally appropriate flavors:  Egg Nog for Elle and Peppermint for Emme.  Oh god.  Delish.

Elle on the left, Emme on the right!

Talk to Someone

If you’re going to talk to someone, you might as well make good with the waitress, right?  Especially when the waitress is bringing you two delicious cheesy crispy omigoodness I need to drive back to Manchester right now cheeseburgers.  So we chatted her up — apparently EVERYONE asks how the cheese comes out that way, because it seems like they’re the only place anyone ever sees it.  Her response was pretty vague (“the cook, well, he lets the cheese touch the grill when he’s making the burger, and then he like, um, flips it” — I’m no Food Network personality, but that makes no sense).

Drink Something

One of my coworkers swore that the Hungry Tiger (which we kept referring to as the Thirsty Lion) used to be a great scene for music.  The entertainment options on Thanksgiving Eve didn’t really interest us, but we grabbed a beer and decided to check it out.  I’m a fan of places with a lot of entertaining signage, and I find bars warning me to beware of pickpockets and loose women are usually my kind of bar.  It was a dive, kind of an older crowd, but definitely somewhere I would be happy to return to.

And, they were pretty welcoming to the runners.  Speaking of…

Welcome Ba Runners.

Do Something

I come from south of Boston, where ‘road race’ means the Marathon or Falmouth’s 7 miler, but apparently the Manchester Road Race’s 4.478 mile course is the SECOND largest road race in New England!  This is the part where we get really excited to show you the awesome costumes and runners and puppies dressed like turkeys, but my camera is seriously busted and I can’t find a replacement battery ANYWHERE.  SO, we’ll let you sit and wonder exactly what we DID in Manchester for a few days longer….