MERIDEN — K. Lamay’s Steamed Cheeseburgers has started an expansion project that will double the size of the East Main Street eatery.
Owner Kevin LaMay is expanding his steamed cheeseburger joint into an adjacent storefront in the commercial plaza at 690 E. Main St. The space was previously occupied by Blown Out Salon, which closed about a year ago.
LaMay’s expansion, approved by the city, will more than double the restaurant’s seating, currently at 18, and create more room for bathrooms and office space, LaMay said. Upgrades will also be made to the flooring, ceiling, and tables, LaMay said, and the front entrance will be renovated with new glass doors.
“I can’t wait to see the finished product,” LaMay said Monday. “...I’m really looking forward to seeing people’s faces when they walk through the door for the first time.”
LaMay said he will also begin operating a food truck next year.
“I figured why not hit it while it’s hot and go for the food truck at the same time,” he said.
K. LaMay’s opened in Meriden 11 years ago and has been recognized by several publications over the years for its steamed cheeseburgers, a culinary staple in Meriden.
The food and entertainment website Thrillist and MSN both named K. Lamay’s steamed cheeseburger the best burger in Connecticut in articles crowning the best burger in all 50 states.
MSN wrote in March, “Though K. Lamay’s is a rookie compared to some of the some of the older (steamed cheeseburger) restaurants preparing burgers this way, they’re undeniably knocking it out of the park.”
LaMay opened K. LaMay’s after working at Ted's Restaurant, a steamed cheeseburger institution on Broad Street founded in 1959. He also owns Double Play Café in Wallingford.
Customers have encouraged LaMay to expand over the years because his restaurant lacks adequate seating during busy times or when large groups stop in.
LaMay said about three different salons have occupied the space next to him since he opened on East Main eight years ago, but he never jumped at the opportunity to expand until now. As part of the expansion, LaMay agreed to sign a new 10-year lease, which LaMay said is “almost unheard of” for a restaurant.
City Planner Bob Seale said his office isn’t requiring LaMay to get approval from the Planning Commission because the project only requires a change of use for the new space, so LaMay was given a waiver.
Seale said he was pleased to see K Lamay’s expand.
“It obviously says that they are doing well in that location and this will allow for more seating and service,” Seale said.
Work on the expansion began at LaMay’s restaurant this week and will take about three weeks. It will only require the restaurant to close down for a couple days, LaMay said.
The new food truck will travel to breweries, wineries, and fairs all over the state, LaMay said. It will mostly have the same menu – “maybe a couple new items, nothing crazy.”
LaMay wanted to start a food truck, rather than open a new restaurant, because it lets him serve people all over the state and “see where people really appreciate it.” LaMay also hopes to spread the popularity of steamed cheeseburgers and draw in more business for his restaurant with the food truck.