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From Tops to "Pop's"

Tops Supermarket owners will soon open an upscale burger place on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike.

Take the "T" away from Tops and add a “P” and you have John Salerno and Betsy Tooker's next entrepreneurial venture: "Pop's."

The owners, along with Salerno's brother Steven Salerno and some silent partners are readying to open Pops on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike next month, an eatery that will feature a simple menu of gourmet, hand-made burgers, fries, hotdogs, salad and select desserts, said Salerno.

He said the idea made sense, since Tops is known for its high-quality beef, and already has access to the other foods like potatoes for French fries.

"It will be a simple operation with an old-fashioned feel," Salerno said. "We'll make the hamburgers right on the premises, and we're getting a burger machine that punches the burgers right out-there's no freezers involved, everything's fresh.

Salerno, who bought Tops in 1980, said he's been noticing a trend in recent years with places like Max's Burgers providing a higher quality, “upscale” version of something simple as a burger.

 Pop's will feature all different kinds of burgers - with their slogan, "there's 98,000 ways to order a burger" -and the place will be decorated in a 1950's movie theme to compliment the next-door drive-in movie theater.

The certified-angus beef burgers will be complemented by fries made with peanut oil and Tooker's homemade desserts.

The name Pop's is more than a rhyme with Tops, since most of the investors like Salerno have earned such a title from grandparenthood.

"When we were talking about what to call it, Pop's made sense, because all of our grandchildren call me 'Pop’,” said Salerno.

Despite the bad economy, Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce President Art Secondo said Southington continually sees new businesses opening up, this year included. He believes Pop's will do well because of Salerno and Tooker's excellent reputation and unique niche.

"Betsy and John have the experience to overcome the obstacles associated a new business," Secondo said. “Plus there's no restaurant like this on that end of town, so may be a good niche for them.”

Salerno expects Pop's to open the end of September, serving lunch and dinner.

Margaret Waage August 16, 2011 at 10:55 AM
Can't wait to try the burgers! It will be great to have someplace close like that in town. Wonder how it will stack up against Middletown's Five Guys? Best of luck!
E. Richard Fortunato August 16, 2011 at 01:06 PM
Good luck to John and Betsy in their new Pop's venture. But then again, their luck is based on offering quality food. So here's wishing Southington enjoys their newest offering.
stephen legat August 16, 2011 at 01:54 PM
Now that we moved Just For You Gift Shoppe to the other end of the plaza, we can't wait to see what the old unit will look like! It's going to be a great place to catch a quick lunch. Just out our door and..... lunch! Good luck you guys (& Gal)!
Joan Carlson August 17, 2011 at 12:42 AM
I wish John and Betsy all the best in their new venture. It will be great to have a place to get a hamburg or hot dog and you know it is fresh. I'm sure I will be grabbing lunch there a lot.
TC August 17, 2011 at 02:56 AM
Congrats to you...Betsy & John.........Good Luck on your new venture....can't wait for a great place to get a bite..
Ann Curtis October 23, 2011 at 02:12 PM
worst burger ever, came to my table raw, second burger they cooked for me worse than the first then the cook came over and offered the second, more raw burger to take home and cook more thoroughly myself...um NO THANKS !! The meat also had a very funny taste to it.. sorry will not be going back.
vevin October 28, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Absolutely the worst service and the worst tasting food I've had in a very long time! On top of that it seemed more like a daycare for out of control teenagers than a eatery establishment. I am incredibly disappointed that this place is still even in business, so it goes without saying I strongly recommend NOT eating at this place. I went up to the counter to place my order only to find an adult loudly wrestling with a strange looking child for whatever reason, it was my understanding that maybe it was bring your kid to work day and brushed it off. My hot dog looked old and cooked on a cheap dirty grill being cooked by what looked like underage laborers. Then, after waiting about 35 minutes, received my hot dog with a flimsy old bun, one cold container of CANNED cheese and another small container of CANNED chili. I had noticed that I only received one cheese container and so I asked for another (for my chili cheese fries) and received a snark attitude and she quickly went back to taking pictures with her friends in the cooking area. In addition to that, after adding up the prices for the items I ordered, I realized I was over-charged by at least 3 dollars but did not want to say anything because I was so uncomfortable. I am writing this so that you don't make the same mistake I did and I hope that you never have to regret spending your own time and money here as well.

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