New burger restaurant in Chatham is inspired by the West Coast, East Coast and the PhilippinesBy Lisa Leigh Connors | Photography by Michael and Suz Karchmer
We wanted this to be a cool gathering spot, whether it’s couples on a date or families hanging out,” says Tom Deegan, who opened Mom & Pops Burgers with his wife, Pelinda, in November.
Located in the former Ollie’s restaurant on Main Street in Chatham, Mom & Pops is a fun, vibrant restaurant that offers fresh, delicious and high-quality food. Standout items include pressed and steamed burgers, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, chocolate, vanilla, swirl and coffee frappes, hand-cut fries and Mom’s homemade Lumpia—hand-rolled Filipino pork eggrolls served with sweet chili sauce—their best-selling specialty item. The restaurant butchers, grinds and patties its own special blend of meat in-house daily. Desserts are also available from The Bashful Tarte bakery, located inside the restaurant.
“Our concept revolves around who we are,” says owner Tom Deegan, who points out that the pressed burger (or smash burger) is more West Coast-inspired and the steam cheeseburger originated in his hometown in Connecticut. His wife, Pelinda, moved from the Philippines to Southern California when she was 10, and Tom was born in Meriden, Connecticut. They met in San Francisco, got married, had a child and eventually settled in Chatham, where Tom spent his summers growing up.
After working more than 20 years for a consulting firm, Tom desired a career change and wanted to explore his creative side. Since he had always enjoyed hosting parties, organizing and planning events, it was a natural transition for him to open a restaurant—and Pelinda backed him 100 percent. “I thought it was a good idea and a great community in which to open Mom & Pops,” says Pelinda, who works full time for Cape Abilities.
During their search for a space, they connected with Jonathan Haffmans, the chef and owner of Vers, formerly located in the Chatham Orpheum Theater. “Chef Haffmans and his wife, Karen, were the difference makers,” says Tom. “They were a big part of opening Mom & Pops.”
Once they settled on their location, the Deegans transformed it into a cool, modern space. They installed a new counter and wood floors, and painted a mural on the far right wall in a vintage postcard-style with icons such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Fenway Citgo sign.
Since Pelinda and Tom know several people in the industry on the West Coast, they turned to one of their good friends, Alvin Garcia, who owns a successful burger restaurant in San Francisco, for advice and direction. “We flew him out and consulted with him,” says Pelinda. “We did a year’s worth of testing—tasting sauces and different meats.”
“The pressed burger changed me completely,” says Mom & Pops chef Nate Dress. “I don’t believe there is another burger for me. The standard set by Tom is extensive. It’s not just a burger.”
The pressed burger is cooked on a high-heat sear for 2-1/2 minutes, which creates a caramelization on top, resulting in a crisp and flavorful burger. The steamed burger, meanwhile, is cooked in steam for 15 minutes in a square metal box, and the aged cheddar is also steamed. Both are delicious—it’s simply a matter of preference.
This summer, the Deegans are planning an enclosed picnic area where customers can enjoy their food, wine and beer outside. “People can eat, little kids can run around on the grass, and play cornhole,” says Tom.
Sounds like the perfect gathering spot.
Mom & Pops Burgers
1603 Main St., Chatham