MOOYAH may be the newest addition to the West Hartford burger scene, but the owners are "seasoned" experts.
Residents Matt Rusconi and David Vorchheimer, owners of the local MOOYAH franchise, have already built a loyal clientele in West Hartford's with which they opened on Valentine's Day 2008. The business partners own the West Hartford, Glastonbury, and Hartford Moe's Southwest Grills, as well as a small MOOYAH restaurant in Hartford.
Rusconi and Vorchheimer met at NYU, where they played soccer together. They started planning their first business venture in 2005/2006.
"The burger thing was happening," said Rusconi about the decision to diversify their restaurant ownership. The pair took a trip to Texas to explore their options, and decided to bring a MOOYAH franchise to West Hartford.
"I liked that they were ranked in FastCasual.com’s annual Top 100 Movers & Shakers list for several years in a row," Rusconi said. "It reminded us of Moe's – a good product."
"MOOYAH is really just burgers, just fries, just better," Rusconi said. He likes that everything is fresh, from the meat, to the buns (which are baked twice a day in the store), to the produce, to the potatoes for the fries which are cut on site and created in a six-step process.
Rusconi and Vorchheimer really liked MOOYAH's branding, too. "The place has a fun vibe to it; it's comfortable, but with a fun feel."
"West Hartford has become a regional draw," Rusconi said, and he doesn't think the burger market has been saturated. He's excited about the revitalization of the area, and believes that MOOYAH's easy access to free parking – about the best available in West Hartford – will make it a popular destination.
"There are 44,000 cars passing by every day," he said. The location is accessible to local colleges and high schools, as well as residential and retail areas.
"If this brand has legs, West Hartford's the place to try it out," Rusconi said.
And just like they do with Moe's, Rusconi and Vorchheimer plan to involve MOOYAH in service to the community. They hosted athletes from the University of Hartford on Wednesday night, prior to Thursday's grand opening, and are collecting donations toward tickets for area kids to attend a University of Hartford game. They also plan to donate a portion of proceeds to JDRF at their second grand opening.
They also have a planned fundraiser for Hall High School's Post-Graduation Party. Rusconi said he would consider bringing in bands for fundraisers as well.
MOOYAH offers three types of burgers – beef, turkey, and veggie – with a wide range of toppings including nine sauces. There are also hot dogs and "Little Mooyah Burgers." There are regular and sweet potato fries, subtly dusted with a special seasoning. The shake options include 14 flavors, which can be combined for a specialized mixture.
The restaurant officially opened at 11 a.m. Thursday, but Gerry Aldrich of West Hartford stopped in before that and was welcomed as the first customer. The Proctor Drive resident said he wanted to try the brand new store in Bishop's Corner.
"Very good – excellent in fact," was Aldrich's comment after consuming his MOOYAH burger with cheese and MOOYAH sauce. "I liked the freshness of it; the meat was still a little pink. I can't figure out what's in the MOOYAH sauce, though," Aldrich said.
He pronounced the fries, "really good, too."
Rusconi said his personal favorite is the turkey burger on wheat, with avocado and pepper jack cheese.
MOOYAH is located at 722 North Main St., West Hartford. The hours are currently 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., but Rusconi said they may eventually stay open until 10 p.m.
ABOUT MOOYAH BURGERS
MOOYAH is a fast-casual, “better burger” concept serving fresh-cut fries, hot dogs, vegetarian options and rich, thick milkshakes. Founded in 2007 in Dallas, it uses only fresh, American lean beef, buns baked in house, real cheeses and toppings made from garden-fresh ingredients. MOOYAH has ranked in the top ten of FastCasual.com’s annual Top 100 Movers & Shakers list for several years in a row, and BurgerBusiness included MOOYAH in its list of “11 Burger Chains to Watch in 2011.” For more information on the brand, its menu or franchising opportunities, please visit www.mooyah.com. Follow MOOYAH on Twitter @MooyahBurger and connect with MOOYAH on Facebook at the MOOYAH Burgers & Fries Fan page.