It’s just after 3 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, and the new Wayback Burgers across the street from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach is packed with teenagers slurping down milkshakes and chomping on burgers and fries.
The new operation, at 490 Mastic Road, opened on Dec. 21, splitting space with Sobol, the acai and fruit smoothie franchise. Both are owned by the Bathija family, which has made a name for itself as operators of local Dunkin Donuts locations. (A Dunkin Donuts is attached to the same building.)
Sonia Bathija, the family matriarch, greets customers by name or introduces herself and offers guidance on what to order.
“I help in whatever way I can,” she said. But she’s proud to boast that the new Wayback — the fourth such franchise on Long Island — is run and part-owned by 29-year-old Tanya Bathija, her middle child.
“People come back because of the treatment they get. You treat others how you want to be treated,” said Tanya Bathija, who graduated with a dual major in fashion design and business and international business from the Fashion Institute of Technology and an MBA in finance and accounting from Baruch College.
A father’s influence
However, she said she’s learned far more from her father, Ben, who opened the Dunkin Donuts on William Floyd Parkway near Montauk Highway 20 years ago, than anything in school.
“Everything I am is because of him,” Tanya said.
When it came to time to refocusing the Sobol location, which had taken up the full space but wasn’t as big a hit with the students, “My father and I envisioned that there was no burger place in the area,” Bathija said. “We looked at Five Guys and Johnny Rockets, but felt Wayback was the best decision to go with. It’s not fast food. It takes a little longer to cook, but it’s all fresh. I definitely wanted to bring that to this town.
“People come in for real food rather than fast food,” she added.
In addition to the milkshakes, among the most popular choices are the Cheeeesy, which has four slices of cheese and sits on an inverted bun; and the Double Bacon, which has four bacon slices, ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles, lettuce, onions and tomato. All burgers have two patties. You can also “Craft Your Own” burger.
Wayback also has a veggie burger and two salad options: garden or Caesar.
Several William Floyd freshmen said they come to the store every day after school. One gets fries and a milkshake. “I love it,” he said.
Down the line, Bathija said she wants to become a real estate and franchising tycoon like her father.
Ben Bathija said it “means a lot” to him that his daughter is following in his footsteps, and that he hopes she will take over the concepts.
In Mastic Beach, with Sobol and Wayback sharing space, “I feel like it’s the best of both worlds,” Tanya Bathija said. “We have two healthy approaches.”