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.