Zach Vetter owns Tapas to Go takeout-only restaurant in Glastonbury. It is a satellite location of Tapas, the longtime restaurant in Bloomfield, which was co-founded by Vetter’s father. (Susan Dunne)
Zach Vetter, the son of Tapas restaurant co-founder Ted Vetter, has brought his family’s beloved flavors east of the river. Tapas to Go, a takeout-only satellite of the longtime Greek restaurant in Bloomfield, opened Nov. 1 in a little yellow storefront at 225 Hebron Ave. in Glastonbury.
Vetter joins other restaurateurs in the Hartford area who are opening to-go-focused outposts of their well-established restaurants. Others that have opened in recent months are Shu Express in Avon, Russell grab-and-go in Hartford and Toro Mexican Street Food in West Hartford.
The move is a natural for Vetter. He began helping at his father’s restaurant at age 11, washing dishes. By age 18, he was cooking. Over the years, he considered other careers. But when he wasn’t performing with his friends in the Michael Cleary Band, his heart kept returning to Tapas.
The Greek Sampler at Tapas to Go has a chicken kabob, two slices of grilled gyro, a lamb patty over rice pilaf, tzatziki, tomato-onion relish, pita and a Greek salad. (Susan Dunne)
The pandemic has been rough, he said. “I chose two professions, music and restaurants, and COVID put the kibosh on both of them,” said Vetter, who lives in Marlborough. “Seeing how fast they can shut down a restaurant that’s been there for 34 years is a little scary.”
When opening his own place, he decided takeout was the way to go. “It made sense to try this venture, to do what I do best, not worry about a bar, patios, staffing, overhead,” Vetter said. “The times have changed. With the current climate, this just feels right.”
Aided in the kitchen by chef Chip Cutting, who worked at Tapas’ West Hartford location until it closed in 2018, Vetter whips up the creations that endeared diners to Tapas since 1986. “We’re using the whole Bloomfield menu,” Vetter said. “We already know how to do everything.”
Chip Cutting prepares a “Four Tapas” seafood flatbread at Tapas to Go in Glastonbury. (Susan Dunne)
The signature flatbreads include “The Four Tapa” with seafood and ricotta; a Cajun with chicken and ricotta; a Greek with gyro, tomato and feta; a “Baby Moon” with portobello mushrooms, tomato, basil and mozzarella; the Basque, with herb sausage, brie and sun-dried tomatoes, three-cheese and veggie.
Platters, which are served over rice with a salad, feature muffaletta, chicken in fillo, spanakopita, a vegetarian burrito, marinated kebabs, salmon, seafood and the Greek Sampler, which has a chicken kebab, a lamb patty and tzatziki.
Appetizers include a hummus platter, Greek nachos, mini spanakopitas, garlic shrimp, crab cakes, falafel and stuffed grape leaves. The restaurant also offers soup, salad and sandwiches.
In the first three days of opening, the shop was filled with fans of Tapas. “Everyone has a Tapas story. Someone said, ‘Our first date was at Tapas.’ Someone else talked about loving going to the place downtown. When they eat the food, it reminds them of years ago,” Vetter said. “The key to our flavor is the salad dressing. My father came up with the recipe when he was in culinary school in New Haven.”
The Basque Tapas at Tapas to Go has grilled herb keilbasa, mushroom, ricotta, melted brie cheese and sundried tomatoes. (Courtesy Tapas)
The restaurant sells bottles of that signature dressing along with the food. The 1,800-square-foot location, only 360 square feet of which is customer space, is still evolving. Vetter plans to install some décor and some seating for people to wait for their food. One element he already has up: Hanging in the window is the original round blue neon “Tapas” sign from when the restaurant opened.
Tapas, co-founded in 1986 by Ted Vetter and Fred Dressler, started in the Elmwood neighborhood of West Hartford. The Bloomfield location opened in 2007. A Tapas on Ann in Hartford closed in 1999 and West Hartford closed in 2018. For a very brief period in the late ‘80s, Tapas had a satellite in Vernon.
“We’ve been looking to open in Glastonbury for about 20 years. The time was right,” he said.
Tapas to Go is open weekdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays noon to 8 p.m., closed Sunday. tapasgo.com.
Susan Dunne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2022, Hartford Courant
Copyright © 2022, Hartford Courant