WALLINGFORD — Customers of Moe’s Southwest Grill will likely feel welcome when they walk through the door. It’s tradition for employees to shout “welcome to Moe’s” when a customer arrives.
The restaurant opened in the same North Colony Road (Route 5) plaza as the movie theater on Aug. 8.
“It’s been very well received,” said co-owner Bruce Steminsky, who with two partners also runs Moe’s in Enfield, Southington, Bristol, Hamden and Fairfield. “We just see how popular Route 5 is, and when you look at the town, you see it’s a great family community.”
Brandon Sporbert, of Meriden, enjoyed lunch with his two children on Thursday.
“We used to go to the one in Southington,” Sporbert said. “It’s nice that there’s one over here now too.”
Steminsky characterized eating at Moe’s as a casual dining experience. There are several televisions inside the dining room. On Thursday, classic rock music played in the background. Wallingford resident A.J. Ardito said he was excited when he learned Moe’s would be opening in his town.
“My friend and I were the first ones in line the day it opened,” he said. “We waited in line for half an hour.”
Ardito and his friend have been fans of Moe’s for years.
“We always went to the one in Hamden,” he said.
The restaurant is similar to Subway, Ardito explained, because customers can pick and choose which ingredients they want, and their meal is made right in front of them.
“Fresh ingredients always help,” Ardito said.
Steminsky said that he and his partners have known each other for 25 years. They decided to try their hand in the restaurant business together, and that Moe’s was the way to go because “we were looking at what was hot and exciting out there in the franchise world.”
With management and crew members, Steminsky said the restaurant employs about 30 people, mostly from Wallingford and Meriden.
The restaurant will offer fundraising opportunities for local charities and school groups, said Steminsky, who lives in Southington with his wife, a special education teacher at Roger Sherman School in Meriden.
“We don’t want to be just another chain in the community,” he said. “We want to be woven into the fabric of the community.”
Every Wednesday night, charities and groups will have the opportunity to book an event at the restaurant. Moe’s will create fliers for the event, Steminsky said. Anyone who comes in with a flier that night will automatically have 15 percent of their check donated to the charity.
“It’s very important to us,” he added. “These are our friends and neighbors.”