MERIDEN, CT (WFSB) - Every Town Has a Story gets a tour of all the best kept secrets in Meriden.
On Broad Street there is a local food landmark that has gained national attention.
“Once we get you to try it, and bite into it, we usually get you hooked,” said Bill Foreman, Owner of Ted’s Restaurant.
Ted’s Restaurant has been serving up their steamy cheeseburgers for nearly six decades.
“My uncle's father started it. He was 'Ted.’ He opened in 1959 and we've been the same location ever since,” said Foreman.
It’s not just the small, quaint location that has stayed the same.
The unique taste is what has been bringing Kiley Palmer back for 30 years.
“As generations change, the product tends to change sometimes. He's been very consistent here and I’m very happy,” said Palmer.
What sets these cheeseburgers apart from other places, is the way they are prepared.
The burger patties are not grilled or broiled, instead they're steamed.
A stainless-steel machine holds tiny trays, which the mounds of meat and chunks of cheddar cheese individually sit inside of to cook.
“Because we're cooking it with steam you're keeping a moist, juicy burger. So, when you take a bite of it, you're still going to taste all those juices, but a lot of the fats and oils have been let out,” Foreman said.
Then, a 2-ounce gob of steamed cheddar cheese tops the burger and that is how you're able to get meat and cheese in every bite!
While not all of Connecticut has caught onto this local Meriden fare, the Travel Channel, the Food Network, and George Motts certainly did, putting Ted's in the national spotlight on numerous occasions.
“This is as American as it gets here,” said Palmer.
In downtown Meriden, art is alive and well.
There is a hidden gem on Colony Street.
It’s a place where you can go to buy art, sell art, and make art.
In the 1800's, Meriden was known as the "Silver City.”
Belts, pewter, guns, nails, coffee grinders, and cutlery were just a few of the items that came out of there.
“We had a lot of artists from Europe that came over at that time for Int'l Silver and Napier Co.,” said Sandy Goodyear, Vice President of Gallery 53.
Before you know it, Meriden was not just shining with silver, but with artists!
In the early 1900's, resident Indiana Thomas wanted to bring these artists together, so she created: "The Arts and Crafts Association of Meriden,” a group which is still thriving 110-years later.
“In the early 80s, the association bought this building, renovated it,” said Janet Gawlak, Manager at Gallery 53 gift shop.
The building is located at 53 Colony St., right by the new Amtrak station.
The non-profit group now operates under the name: "Gallery 53".
Inside the beautiful 3-story building, art is alive and well.
There are art classes people can take.
“Tuesday is a model class, Wednesday and Thursday are open painting, one day is with instructor. At night we have many classes through Meriden adult-ed,” said Chris Webster, Gallery 53 President.
There are also art galleries and shows.
“Usually every month right through to December we will have art shows,” said Goodyear.
There’s gift shop where you can purchase art directly from the local artists.
“We have approximately 169 artisans that bring their work in at any given time,” Goodyear said.
You wouldn't believe how affordable the prices are on the paintings, hand-matted photos, jewelry, dolls, and textiles.
“We have some amazing potters and they're reasonable and they're beautiful. You can love it and afford it here,” said Goodyear.
Every sale the Gallery 53 gift shop makes, a percentage goes to the artists and the other percentage goes to Gallery 53.
You're not only supporting local artists, but you're supporting this incredible organization.
“We’re basically running this whole building on volunteers,” said Goodyear.
They also want to get the youth involved in the gallery.
“You don't have to be an artist, you just want a night out to experience something fun? Come to us,” said Webster.
Based out of Meriden for over 20 years, a special group of veterans has continued to serve their country, long after their mission ended.
They volunteer their time, providing a special tribute to their fellow serviceman and servicewoman.
It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind group that started 23 years ago, right in Meriden.
They’re called the "antique veterans" and they're a volunteer-based honor guard made-up of individuals from all different backgrounds who have served our country.
Their mission is to give their fallen brothers and sisters a proper sendoff, one that would make any veteran proud.
They have their own honor guard on detail, which includes a rifle squad, flag folders who provide a flag presentation, a color guard, and musical selections that pertain to each military branch.
Since their inception in 1996, over 1,600 military burials have been accorded by this group.
They also do a number of school visits and social functions.
As time goes on though, the number of active members has been falling.
99-year-old Henry Muszynski has proudly been with the group for over 20 years.
“they’re just bonded together. You can't separate them,” said Muszynski.
The group is open to any active duty or honorably discharged veteran, male or female.