By Tamas Mondovics

With a much-anticipated opening night for friends and family followed by an official grand opening the next morning, Jake’s Wayback Burgers, a Connecticut-based franchise with more than 70 locations nationwide, opened a new location in Lithia, which is the third restaurant in Florida.

The crowd of hungry customers, who came to try out the new burger joint located in the FishHawk Ranch Publix shopping center at 5627 FishHawk Crossing Blvd., is a clear indication of the community’s interest in a new dining choice for the area.

“It’s great to see so many giving our restaurant a try,” said first-time restaurant owner and FishHawk resident, Mark Van Dame, who following the busy opening night, can breathe a bit easier as he wonders about the choice of his new venture. “We are offering a great product and a family-focused business that is here to support the community, coupled with a positive place for work.”

Since launching the national expansion in 2009, Jake’s Wayback Burgers currently has a presence across 23 states and is claiming recognition as one of the most aggressive and ambitious fast-casual brands in the United States.

Thanks to its success so far, the restaurant chain plans to triple its number of locations sold by the end of 2013.

“It’s our franchisees’ passion and commitment to their communities that makes Jake’s Wayback Burgers successful,” said John Eucalitto, President of Jake’s Wayback Burgers. “We are confident Mark Van Dame will continue that commitment in Lithia with his first Jake’s Wayback restaurant.”

By occupying the last vacant space in the shopping center, Jake’s Wayback Burgers is serving up fresh, hand-made burgers coupled with hand-dipped milkshakes amidst an atmosphere that aims to take customers back to a simpler place and time, focusing on customer service and the feeling of the warmth of the community.

“We are offering rich, thick milkshakes made the old-fashioned way by hand, using only fresh milk and hand-dipped ice cream,” said Chris Scigliano, who will run the Lithia restaurant as general manager.

Jake’s Wayback Burgers also offers crispy and grilled chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, turkey burgers and house-made chips, as well as its famous Burger and Shake of the Month.

Finishing his turkey club sandwich, FishHawk resident John Ferren was not disappointed with his choice off the simple menu.

“The sandwich was great,” Ferren said. While his first visit to the restaurant was free, the menu prices are reasonable and he will be returning for more.

Sharing the sentiments of many who came to support opening night, Steve Hardy of FishHawk, who brought his entire family to opening night, was pleased with the diversity brought by the new restaurant to the community.

“It’s nice to have a new eatery other than fast food that offers fresh burgers,” Hardy said.

Promising to live up to the expectations, Van Dame was pleased to see the support of the community, the great turnout, as well as the effort on the part of the hard-working young staff that was visibly focused on making everyone’s first visit to Jake’s not only one to remember, but also to re-visit.

Its hours are from Sunday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

For more information, please visit or call 681-2874.


Previous articleLocal Author Showcases Area Wildlife
Next articlePlaza At Full Capacity For The Publix at FishHawk Shopping Complex