- Melissa Haskin
When Archie's Grill announced its closing last summer due to owner Dick Hess's health problems, the town of Shelburne took notice. "Did you hear about Archie's?" was a frequent conversation starter and the local Front Porch Forum was alight with dismayed comments that Dunkin' Donuts — the third one on Shelburne Road — was taking over the space occupied by the local burger joint.
Losing Archie's was especially sad for our family. The place opened right down the street from us soon after we moved to Shelburne six years ago. We met other families there for dinner and got takeout or dined in when we were too tired to cook. In the summer, we rode our bikes there for creemees. It was a true neighborhood joint, run without an ounce of pretention by a genial owner whose work ethic and friendly smile harked back to a simpler time.
Lucky for us, Archie's has returned. Shelburne resident Tim Williams and business partner Doug Nedde bought the name, recipes and equipment from Hess. This January, the new Archie's rose from the cooking grease like a fast-food phoenix, just a stone's throw across Shelburne Road, in the space formerly occupied by Marco's Pizza.
My family couldn't wait to give the revamped place a try. We headed there for dinner at 5:30 on a Friday evening, a couple of days before the restaurant's official grand opening. Word of this soft opening had traveled fast — it seemed like half the town was there, trying to get a burger fix. At one point, the line to order stretched out the door.
The once dim and nondescript Marco's Pizza space has gotten a modern face-lift, with wire pendant lamps and industrial farmhouse tables sitting atop a black-and-white-checked floor.
Just as at the original Archie's, you order at the counter, and they call your name when the food is ready. Despite the 15-minute wait to order, the service was quick. And the food was tasty. The menu has stayed mostly the same, with the addition of several more salad options, a new black bean burger and an expanded beer selection with several local brews. My husband wolfed down his burger with blue cheese and I enjoyed my favorite Archie's standby, the turkey burger topped with a chipotle aioli. The kids devoured their burger and hot dog. And we were all eager to eat Archie's potato chips again — large, crispy crinkle-cut numbers dusted with salt.
There's no outdoor seating like the original Archie's had, though they still serve creemees and milkshakes that will be calling our name when the warmer months arrive. But chances are we'll be back to Archie's much sooner than that.
Price: Our meal, which included two burgers, two kids' meals, a juice and two beers cost just over $50. Adult entrées range from $6.49 for hot dogs with peppers and onions to $9.75 for a salmon burger. Kids meals are in the $5-6 range.
Hits: You can't go wrong with a burger, still made with beef from Shelburne's LaPlatte River Angus Farm. The no-frills Village Burger comes with lettuce and tomato, while the fancier Bleu Burger is topped with Guinness-infused onion rings stuffed with Blue Cheese. If you're avoiding red meat, the turkey burger, made with meat from New Haven's Misty Knoll Farms, is a good bet. But it comes slathered with creamy aioli, so it's not exactly a virtuous choice.
Miss: The ventilation isn't great. We left redolent with cooking oil, and our jackets still smelled of it the next day.