Sensing that Wilton is hungry for a fast but tasty burger, two area restaurateurs have brought their business to town to feed that need.
After more than two years of pandemic-related delays, Press Burger opened for business on Tuesday, March 21, at 5 River Rd., next to Stop & Shop, at the former location of Tom E. Toes Pizza.
“The anticipation in town has been building up,” said co-owner John Gallagher, who calls Wilton home. “Just word of mouth started spreading.”
In fact, the new operation enjoyed long lines on its first day, as many people who have watched the restaurant slowly coming to fruition stopped by for the first taste.
The first Press Burger was opened in New Canaan in 2010, started by co-owner Seth Leifer, who resides in upstate New York. The idea was to focus on traditional fast food — burgers, hot dogs and fries — but with a less heavy, “cleaner” quality.
“We want cleaner food,” Leifer said, noting their slogan of “fine, fast, casual” explains their philosophy.
The restaurant takes pride in also offering all-natural hot dogs, with a veggie option to come, and healthier versions of milkshakes. The co-owners are also regularly exploring new ways of improving their product, such as experiments with sunflower oil to see if they can make their french fries tastier and yet lighter, or creating new sauces to add to their list of toppings and trimmings.
“We’ll be introducing fried chicken soon,” said Gallagher, who has been working with restaurants since he was a young man.
Following the pandemic, the New Canaan restaurant became solely a take-out operation.
With the new Wilton location, two separate kitchens have been created — one to service the foot traffic at the front of the store, and the other, larger kitchen designated to catering, pickup and delivery.
“We’re definitely a staple in town,” Gallagher said of New Canaan, hoping the same becomes true in Wilton.
Both feel strongly that parents want a faster, yet high-quality food alternative located in the center of town.
“I think our speed alone will really help families a lot,” said Bryce O’Brien, general manager of the Wilton restaurant, who also helped with the New Canaan startup in 2010.
A family and community focus, O’Brien said, is at the heart of the way the operation is run, coupled with what he believes is great food.
“If I didn’t love the food and didn’t feel passionate about it,” he added, he wouldn’t be involved.
With the idea of encouraginga a sense of community and possibly opening other locations in the future, Gallagher and Leifer will be selling merchandise. They’re also pleased to have hired several young Wilton residents as staff for the new place.
“I think they’ll do great,” Wilton resident Kim Dexter said, while stopping in for a first-time takeout order this week.
She said the speed is attractive, as is the location and menu.
“I just think it’s great to have a quick grab and an easy meal for everybody,” she said, “something that’s easy, especially for the kids.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the article misidentified the oil being used for french fries — it is sunflower oil, not sesame oil.