Trumbull’s newest business has taken the concept of being community-oriented to the next level.
Before Nick Montanaro’s Tex-Mex restaurant opens its doors at the Long Hill Marketplace early next year, residents will get the chance to submit what they think the business should be named — and the winner of the contest will get a free lunch each week for a year.
“My business partner and I were having a tough time picking the right name, and I have kids in the high school, so I told them to ask their friends for some ideas and we’d give the winner a free burrito or something every week,” said Montanaro, who works as an AllState Insurance agent in Trumbull Center.
“Soon enough, I had eight or ten texts in my phone and they just kept coming in,” he added. “That’s when we decided to open the whole thing up to the community and see what kind of names they could come with for our place.”
Trumbull eaters interested in winning the grand prize, and having their creative shine all over the restaurant at 6528 Main Street, should email submissions to [email protected].
“Leave your name and phone number when you make your suggestion, and we’ll be replying to the winner within the next couple of weeks,” Montanaro said.
“We should be moving into the building in December and getting ready to open around the new year,” he added. “The name is key for our marketing that we’d like to get started in the months leading up to our grand opening celebration.”
Word of mouth
Montanaro has a son and a daughter who just began their senior and sophomore year, respectively, at Trumbull High School. He said he expects to get some good word-of-mouth marketing from his kids and their friends.
“There’s really nothing in this area for kids who are getting out of school at 2:30 p.m.,” he said. “I know when I was growing up here we’d always get out of school and hang around the Trumbull Center, but nowadays the kids are leaving to go to Pancheros in Shelton to get a burrito or a taco.
“I think we can bring a lot of business back into Trumbull,” he added.
But the unnamed restaurant will be for everyone in the community, not just kids.
There will be seating for 30 or so people inside with an outdoor patio for 20 more.
Montanaro said he got the basic concept for his business from a similar establishment called Señor Salsa on Post Road in Fairfield.
“I used to eat there two to three times a week before I moved my office here to Trumbull,” he said.
“It’s always jam-packed,” he added. “They’ve got dentists, nurses, construction workers, office people — the whole spectrum — coming through their doors.”
He describes his restaurant as “fast-fresh” where customers will order off a menu board, help themselves to a salsa bar and wait for their order to be called.
“It’s not a conveyor line like you see at Chipotle,” he said. “But you can still get your lunch in five minutes without walking down the line, and be served a product that’s never frozen.”
Quality and price
Two things will separate the new restaurant from others like it in town, Montanaro believes.
The first is the menu, and the quality of food on it.
“We’ll have all your traditional meats, like steak, chicken, and shrimp, and we’ll have all your traditional plates — the enchiladas, the fajitas, the quesadillas,” he said. “And the food is incredible. I’ve been eating these recipes with these fresh ingredients for years and I love it, and I think Trumbull will, too. That’s why we’re bringing it here.”
The menu will include four to five salads as well as special items like the seafood burrito — shrimp, crab, and scallops — and the fajita quesadilla.
Each item is priced under $10, reasonable for whole families to come in and eat, as well as individuals looking for a cheap lunch or dinner.
“You go into a deli on Main Street for a sandwich and a soda and it costs you like $13,” said Montanaro, who owned an Italian deli 12 years ago but left the business to spend more time with his kids as they were growing up.
“Everyone I’ve talked to is excited about the concept, and the fact it’ll be inexpensive,” he said. “You can get a chicken lime salad for $7.25 or a chicken fajita quesadilla for the same price — you won’t be able to find that anywhere in this area.”
And customers will get a free bag of chips with every meal, which will come in handy with the open salsa bar.
Fitting into the vision
The town’s Economic and Community Development department is looking for new businesses to fill the Long Hill Marketplace, and believes the new unnamed restaurant is the perfect fit for its vision.
“They want to get people sitting outside and eating, and attract new people to that area,” Montanaro said. “The town is spending a lot to redevelop the green in Long Hill and they want to have a lot of activity going on there.
“I’d like to see our customers come in and take their burrito and soda up onto the green and spend time there,” he added. “I think that’s exactly the kind of thing this community needs right now.”
The new restaurant will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Check back at trumbulltimes.com for more information about its name selection and its grand opening plans in 2016.