Wayback Burgers: Wayback to Delish
Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography
Special thanks to Ron Nelson and the Carolina Dreamers Car Club for bringing these beautiful classic cars to WayBack Burgers in Shelter Cove Towne Centre for our photoshoot.
Stepping up to the counter at Wayback Burgers in Shelter Cove Towne Centre on Hilton Head Island, there are decisions to be made—very important decisions. Will your burger (or fish, or chicken, or hot dog) be made “Our Way,” or will you create it your own way? Do you want fries with that? Cheese fries? Chili cheese fries? Or wait, onion rings or house-made chips? And just what are Irish Nachos? And the shakes…hand-dipped…hand-made!
It is easy to see why Wayback Burgers nearly derailed the dinner hour at owners Jackie and Scott Ammerman’s former Connecticut home. “There was a time when Scott kept coming home after work and I’d say, ‘I have dinner ready,’” Jackie said. “He’d say he wasn’t really hungry. One day he fessed up and said that he had found this great burger restaurant. ‘I can’t help it,’ he told me.” Feeling it was time for a new venture, Scott suggested taking a look at franchise opportunities.
“I thought he was crazy,” Jackie said. But after spending a day at the Wayback Burgers’ headquarters in Cheshire, Connecticut and doing their due diligence, the Ammermans were on board in a big way. “My husband really believed in the product, and I believed in the people behind the product.” With a six-store contract, they moved their family to Hilton Head Island, where they were property owners and part-time visitors, and began work on their island location and their Abercorn Street spot in Savannah.
Opening their Hilton Head Island doors on a busy Fourth of July weekend 2015, the neophyte restauranteurs broke a few records right out of the gate. “We were number one in the entire country both last summer and this summer out of all the Waybacks,” Jackie said. “We’re one of the first stores to venture into a tourist market and still maintain an off-season business.”
“Scott and I knew that if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right,” Jackie said—fast-casual, fresh, high-quality, family-friendly, and super fun, where customer service is a priority and the team clearly loves what they do. “My main concern is that people are comfortable and happy, and that they want to come back; they want to visit us.”
With the help of some very important local connections (nine-year-old daughter Brooke and five-year-old son Cooper—yes, Cooper for Cooperstown—huge Yankees and Red Sox fans), who could be credited with expanding the family’s network of friends and customers, the Ammermans have seen their Wayback Burgers evolving into the neighborhood gathering place they envisioned, where guests stop by for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, hang out on the covered porch, eat, celebrate, or watch a game. The addition of breakfast is brand new—one of two locations nationwide testing the company’s cooked-to-order menu from bacon to eggs to pancakes, and not to be missed.
The WayBack Patty Melt: Grilled buttered bun, Swiss cheese, grilled onions, Thousand Island Dressing
A Sabrett hot dog coated in chili, onions and mustard with a side of house-made chips.
The addition of breakfast is new, with made-to-order options that range from bacon and eggs to pancakes.
The modern-retro, diner décor is just the right backdrop for the star of the show: burgers. Leading the menu, the Wayback Signature burgers in delicious combinations, can be a little out of the box or as classic as hamburger, cheese, and grilled buttered bun. The tastes are jaw dropping…or dripping? From the Wayback Classic (a build-your-own burger), to the Rodeo (yellow American cheese, onion rings, and tangy BBQ sauce), to the Carolina (on the menu exclusively in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia and made with yellow American cheese, slaw, chili, onions, and mustard), all the burgers are made from fresh, never-frozen beef, delivered twice a week to the restaurant.
Wayback also serves chicken, turkey, cod, and veggie burgers, chicken tenders and Sabrett hot dogs (a New York favorite). Limited only by imagination, guests can get as creative as they like with toppings and sides.
However, ordering it “Our Way” is considered Wayback’s quintessential combo: ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce, and tomato. Sides include fries, unadorned or all dressed up with chili and/or cheese, beer-battered onion rings, mac and cheese bites, Jake’s chili (the original Connecticut Wayback was called Jake’s Hamburgers), and truly addictive house-made chips. With the option to customize the number of patties and slices of cheese on each burger (from one to the Triple Triple with nine), two sizes for most of the sides, and crisp salad options, making health-friendly choices is easy while still tucking into a classic comfort meal.
If the burgers are the stars of the show, the Wayback milkshakes are the Aurora Borealis. Made with hand-dipped ice cream, blended to order, and served in silver tins to keep them cold all the way to the bottom of the cup, this is a milkshake experience worth sharing. “We have guests bringing their grandchildren to show them what a real milkshake is like,” Jackie said. The flavors range from strawberry banana, to café mocha, to the classic vanilla and chocolate, and many more. Additionally, “We’re peanut- and tree nut-free friendly for families who need an alternative,” Jackie said—something particularly important to Cooper, who has a nut allergy, and who inspired a franchise-wide decision to serve WOWBUTTER® and banana milkshakes after a peanut butter-banana shake won a national competition and was slated to be served in all the Wayback locations.
With four beers on draft, a couple of TVs, and a buy-one, get-one Cheeeesy burger special through football season, Wayback is expanding on their already neighborhood-friendly vibe. Supporting the local community, they also provide fundraising opportunities to schools, clubs, and charities, offering a 15 percent discount during a scheduled event, where the savings are returned to the cause. “We have a big patio for them to hang out on, and they can decorate with balloons or banners,” Jackie said.
The menu may be a little different and a little more delicious, but it sounds like the Ammerman’s dinner hour is back on track. And just what are Irish Nachos, anyway? House-made chips, chili, cheddar jack cheese, jalapenos, and onions. Now that makes perfect sense.
Wayback Burgers is located at 32 Shelter Cove Lane, Suite 150, in the Shelter Cove Towne Centre. For more information or to place your order, please visit waybackburgers.com or call (843) 785-2650.