Opinion: Farewell to Greenwich's version of 'Cheers'

On Dec. 17, 2007 a valiant young man opened a new restaurant, CREW, at 280 Railroad Ave. in Greenwich.

Youthful at that time, Chris Geideman (aka Geidy) already had 20 years of restaurant experience under his belt. I first knew of him as a manager of the beloved Boxing Cat Grill in Old Greenwich. Sadly for us, Chris sold the business, and CREW closed April 24, 2021 after an amazing 14-year run.

We were early adopters of CREW, visiting the first time in January of 2008. Under the adage of “timing is everything,” he opened into one of the worst recessions in history. Thankfully, his parents and customers believed in him and ensured he’d make it through.

CREW was a small space with a short menu but so creative and innovative we were immediately drawn in. As one sat, an oval dish of Edamamus and grilled pita were served. This novel dish used edamame like chickpeas, whipped with garlic to make a wonderful palate warmer, which hinted of greater things to come.

So popular with all of our children, son Eric chose to have his high school graduation dinner in June of 2008 at CREW. We had a perfect table for 10 in the back corner and in one 15-minute period, three different grandparents spilled glasses of red wine! Chris thought it was hysterical, and we became regulars.

If you’ve ever been to Ireland, you’re familiar with the term “our local.” That’s what CREW became for us.

Our daughter, Clare, spent the summer of 2009 “sousing” for Chris. His original chef had left during the recession, so Chris took over the kitchen but needed help. CREW never missed a beat. She learned a lot, but mostly how hard it is to be successful running a restaurant.

Fast forward to the good times. We’d visit at least monthly and met Chris’s parents and Talia, his beautiful wife, and creator of the single best carrot cake I’ve ever had. And life was good for everyone. At this point we recognized that some of our friends were always at CREW when we’d come in for dinner.

The Welshes had this to say after the closing:

“The “Friendliest Spot In Town” where everyone knows your name! THANK YOU for so many amazing years filled with delicious food, the best mixologist, good laughs and music!!!!!!!!! Now it's time to have those backyard bbqs ... Please stay in touch because forever we’ll always be part of the CREW!!!

Love, smooches, and hugs, Corinne & Scott”

“Cheers” was a common reference, Karen Martin, whom we’ve known since our children were in kindergarten together, had this to say: “One thing that comes to my mind immediately, and I have said this many times about CREW, it was our very own ‘Cheers!’ Where everybody knows your name!! Also, it was the best place to have a wedding after party, the best wedding after party ever!”

One other story we need to share vis-à-vis Chris and CREW is how he tried to promote our son Eric’s budding photography career. Eric showed Chris some of his photographs, and Chris said, “I’ve nothing on my walls, come in, hang them up and put a price tag on each one. Chris sold a few off the walls, but more than that, he gave Eric a venue to show his work, and it was the beginning of Chris’s promotion of anyone he could, especially musical artists. Over the last few years, his musical guests drew friends in but were also exposed to an entirely new audience. That was the generosity of spirit Chris possesses.

When Chris notified us that it was his time to hang it up, we immediately made a reservation, feeling a need to support him on his exit. It was a celebration par excellence, with the always attentive Alyssa as our server, the once and always famous bartendress, Kate, sitting at the table next to us. We missed Martial Gramond, who served us so many times we cannot recall, but always with patience and grace.

Such was the team that Chris created, and the vibe was always one of family on both sides of the counter.

There are plenty of restaurants that come and go from Greenwich with nary a blurb, but CREW isn’t one of them. It will be long remembered and fondly carried in our hearts, and that’s due to one person, Chris Geideman! He’d love to hear from you at info@crew280.co

John Cooper is a Greenwich resident.