Ridgefield Zawack Shack going strong on Route 7 after 10 years in business
Restaurants may be struggling, but the roadside food truck business is doing all right, according to Greg Zawacki, who operates the Zawack Shack food truck from a pull-off along Route 7, a mile or so north of Branchville.
“It’s been great,” Zawacki told Ridgefield’s selectmen. “If anything we’re busier, being a food truck — being outside is an advantage.”
The truck have been operating — selling burgers, fries, hot dogs and other lunch food — Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for 10 years now.
“We’ve been really busy, and every year we get busier, it seems,” Zawacki said.
The selectmen voted unanimously May 27 to renew his permit to operate the Zawack Shack at its traditional spot.
Much of the roadside operation is “to go” food, but near the truck there are some picnic tables, which Zawacki said he’s reduced from four to three and moved further apart in view of coronavirus and COVID-19 concerns.
He opened later in the season.
“We started the beginning of May this year. We’re usually starting the beginning of April,” he said.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi asked how the operation was doing meeting all the state and local Health Department concerns about the disease.
“We’ve done a pretty good job about it,” Zawacki said. “We wear the masks and gloves every day,” he said.
Customers don’t have to stand near the truck, or sit at the picnic table, waiting for their orders to be done.
“You can go back to your car, and we’ll honk the horn — and come pick it up,” he said. “It’s basically contactless.”
“Are customers wearing masks?” asked Selectwoman Barbara Manners.
“It’s been about a 70-30 split that people are wearing masks, but some people don’t,” he said.
“We hand them out to people,” said Joan Zawacki, Greg’s mother, who provides support to the business.
“If you need some, let me know, I’ll bring some down,” Marconi said.
“We’re in the food business,” Joan Zawacki said. “We’re able to get them.”
Greg Zawacki said he’s a little obsessive about cleaning and hygiene.
“That’s just ingrained in me,” he said. “I’m always really cautious because I don’t want to get anyone sick.”
“We use disposable gloves — any time anybody touches meat, or money, they’re thrown out,” Joan Zawacki said.
“We have contactless payment,” Zawacki said. “You can actually be contactless with us.”
“How do customers feel about reopening?” asked Selectmen Bob Hebert.
Most people seem glad, Zawacki said, though some are still reluctant to come back — perhaps because “they have an underlying issue” that might make the vulnerable to the virus.
“I think it’s way more — 90-10 that people are wanting to get back to normal,” he said.
Selectman Sean Connelly — who was elected last November to his first term on the board — confessed he wasn’t very familiar with the business, and asked for some overview.
“I’ve seen the truck. I don’t know that much about it,” he said.
“It’s basically my business. My mom helps out a lot. This is our 10th year at this spot,” Zawacki said.
“I was quite impressed that you said you’re doing better this year, given the late start” Selectman Hebert said.
“It’s weather dependent, too,” Zawacki said. “When the nice weather hits, we usually get a rush.”
Hebert moved that the selectmen approve the renewal of his permit for another year.
Barbara Manners seconded and the vote was 5-0.