Watertown will soon be joining more than a dozen other towns in the state that have a Wayback Burgers restaurant.
The new franchise, which will be at 1142 Main St., is the 19th Wayback Burgers to open in the state. Jia Zhou Lin, operator of Wayback Burgers in Torrington, will be taking on the new site.
According to Patrick Conlin, president of Wayback Burgers, Lin had been experiencing a lot of growth in the Torrington franchise and thought it was a good time to open a new location.
“He’s been at the Torrington location for about five years and he just completed a remodel in the last month,” Conlin said. “His sales have been up substantially, even before the remodel, and that’s what spurred him on to want to expand and do another location.”
The new location, which is about 1,700 square feet, is expected to open by the end of the year or the beginning of 2022. It will be on one end of a shopping center, in between Nailzone and Radio Shack. Construction hasn’t yet begun on the building, which has previously stood empty. It was previously a Starbucks, which has since moved up the street.
Conlin expects construction to begin in three to six months, and hopes to hire about 30 to 40 people to staff the new location.
The new location will have indoor seating for about 50 people, with about 10 to 16 additional seats outside on a patio.
“The patio gives extra curb appeal to guests that can eat outside, especially nowadays,” said Conlin, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the shopping center is on a “nice busy road, surrounding the towns of Middlebury and Woodbury,” Conlin said. “We liked the look of the center and the traffic counts and the demographics.”
The Watertown store will be the first location to be built with a new interior design, according to Conlin.
One of the features of the new design is a new kitchen layout.
“The kitchen used to be right behind the point of ordering at the register station,” Conlin said. “Now we’ve moved the kitchen towards back of the restaurant and enclosed it in glass with a pass through window so you can still see the food being made but the cooking smells don’t come out into the dining room.
“So, if you’re sitting inside and you’re eating, when you get back in your car, your clothes don’t pick up the smells of hamburgers and fries,” he said.
Aside from burgers, Wayback Burgers also offers cheese steaks, chicken and fish sandwiches, veggie burgers, chicken tenders, salads, and sides, including fries, onion rings, and milkshakes.
One of the popular features of Wayback, according to Conlin, is limited time offer products, which are offered three or four times a year.
“We are wrapping up now with a guacamole burger and a tangerine milkshake and a tangerine lemonade,” he said.
An upcoming limited time offer is a bourbon bacon burger and a pumpkin caramel shake.
In terms of healthy choices, Wayback Burgers offer a plant-based meat alternative burger.
“People are looking to cut down their consumption of meat and go to plant based alternatives,” Conlin said.
About a year ago, the franchise introduced the “Impossible Burger” for a limited time offer, and in January, it was brought back on the menu where it has become a permanent fixture.
“It eats and it tastes and it bites just like a hamburger,” Conlin said. “But there is no meat in it at all.”
Wayback Burgers, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is headquartered in Cheshire. It currently operates in 31 states with over 166 locations, nationally and internationally. Aside from the Torrington location, other towns in Connecticut where the franchise is located include Danbury, Middletown, Norwalk, Orange, Stratford, Waterbury, and West Hartford. All are independently owned.
The business has a national partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where they do fund-raising for the club and organize events for children, such as a shake naming contest.
“A lot of customers like the food,” said Lin, a Torrington resident. “They like the fresh burgers.”
“We’re very excited to bring Wayback Burgers to Watertown and we look forward to inviting all guests into our restaurant,” Conlin said. “We can’t wait to get open and be able to serve the community.”