SOUTHINGTON — Pig Rig BBQ restaurant is planning a second location on the Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike in the spring, owner Dan Lanigan said Tuesday.
“I’ve been through scary (times),” Lanigan said about expanding his Wallingford operation into Southington in the midst of a pandemic. “I have a really cool business. I’m a quirky character. I never aspire to be normal and that's reflected in my restaurant.”
Lanigan, an Army veteran, said he got the idea for a second restaurant with a drive-through after driving by the 1843 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike location, a former Dunkin’ Donuts, and seeing its proximity to the highway, a truck stop and all of the traffic on the road, also known as state Route 322.
Still, he said he lost sleep for over a month going back and forth about pursuing the location. The restaurant industry took a major hit during the pandemic, he noted. The cost of food has skyrocketed, the labor market is very unsettled, among other factors.
“It felt like a game of ping pong in my head,” he said Tuesday. “I could give myself 1,000 reasons not to do it. Then I would drive there in the middle of the night and think ‘I can do this.’”
Lanigan runs Pig Rig with his wife Brenna Lanigan and their oldest son, Jack, who runs the restaurant’s food truck.
Economic Development Coordinator Lou Perillo said the area of Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike where Pig Rig is set to open has seen a lot of activity recently.
For example, the Dunkin’ Donuts moved to a new building on a site next door, Perillo said.
“Barbeque would be a good fit in that area,” Perillo said Tuesday. “I’ve noticed (that area) has been getting quite a bit of interest.”
Perillo said other recent additions include a Wendy’s, Autozone, Dollar General and a daycare center. He said it is one of the higher traffic areas and he is sure the new business will do well.
Lanigan said he loves working with people and hopes to be able to give the truckers coming through the area a good option. He likes locations near highways because of the catering and food truck sides of the business as well. Having a drive-through is a completely new experience and he said he is starting the process of finding out the specifics.
One of the factors that gave him support were the patrons of his current location at 950 Yale Ave. in Wallingford. He said people are a fan of the quirky style of his restaurant and he wants his customers and staff to feel comfortable.
He said the response when he announced the second location on the Pig Rig Facebook page has been massive. Lanigan said he will make sure that scaling up and expanding does not negatively impact the current business.
“It’s an old Army thing. Do what you’ve got to do, but do it well,” Lanigan said.
He is hoping to open March 1. He said he wants to open earlier, but current supply chain issues mean he can’t get necessary infrastructure pieces. All updates about the Southington location’s progress will be posted to the Pig Rig Facebook page, including when he starts hiring, Lanigan said.