Steamed cheeseburger joint showcases town’s history

Steamed cheeseburger joint showcases town’s history


WALLINGFORD — At first glance you might think the cozy little storefront with an old-fashioned radio and television displayed in the window of the turn-of-century bricked building downtown is one of the many antique shops in the area. But step inside and you will immediately be inundated with the smell of savory beef and melted cheese.

American Steamed Cheese­burgers, located at 92 Quinnipiac Street, is open seven days a week and run by owner and one-man-band Tom Schappert, who says the restaurant aims to bring the unique flavor of the steamed cheeseburger to Wallingford and also offer patrons a glimpse into the town’s past. News clippings and old photographs outlining the town’s storied history line the walls and antique fixtures such as old lanterns from the railroad station are also on display.

The business, originally known as Burg’r Tend’r first opened in 2013 on Route 5 and moved to Quinnipiac Street in September of 2014. Schappert said he changed the name to American Steamed Cheeseburgers in December because he felt it was more marketable.

“Being downtown is where I always wanted to be,” Schappert said.

For Schappert, the steamed cheeseburger is more than just a tasty treat: it’s a Connecticut icon.

“It is really the most unique thing in Connecticut,” he said.

Schappert said one of the key properties of steaming is the fat and grease that usually gets cooked into the burger on a grill is dumped out in the process. The final product, Schappert said, is a slightly healthier meal that doesn’t leave diners with a “weighed-down” feeling after.

Schappert does not serve any fries at the restaurant, although freshly made potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw are available in addition to an array of soft drinks and chips.

The food is not the only thing on display at Schappert’s burger joint. Over the years he has gathered a collection of Wallingford memorabilia which he uses to decorate the store front. One wall is covered with old photographs and newspaper clippings, including articles such as the time legendary baseball player Babe Ruth flipped his car over in the area and the Backes fireworks factory explosion.

In the restaurant’s display windows, Schappert showcases a collection of antique soda bottles, an old radio and television set.

“It’s been tough trying to find a lot of this stuff,” Schappert said.

When he is not manning the steam chests or collecting artifacts on the town’s history, Schappert attends Gateway Community College, where he studies graphic design.

Mayor William W. Dickinson stopped by the restaurant earlier this month. He said he enjoyed the unique glimpse into the town’s history.

“I think the memorabilia he has there and especially the old photographs are very interesting,” Dickinson said. “It’s nice to see that.” (203) 317-2231 Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ

Support Quality Local Journalism

Latest Videos