We love a good burger and appreciate all that it takes to make a good one. Recently we had the opportunity to meet and eat Smashburgers with founder Tom Ryan.
Tom has been in the food industry for over 20 years and knows his way around a burger and what it takes to be successful in this "As the Food Turns" game. A little background…Tom was CMO and branding officer of Quiznos, before that he was Chief Concept Officer for McDonald's, and he started his restaurant career at Pizza Hut. Not impressed yet?!?! Okay, how about he was the brains behind these business building concepts and products:
• Pizza Hut - Stuffed Crust Pizza and Lovers line
• McDonald's - McGriddles, Big 'n Tasty, Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits
• Quiznos - Sammies
From that mind Smashburger was born. Now to add to his impressive accomplishments - Smashburger is the country's fastest growing, fast casual "better burger" restaurant. In five short years they have grown to over 160 locations. SAY WHAT!!! How were they able to do this in a bad economy? Besides the fact that Americans love a good burger; Ryan and Co. have created a great product. All the burgers start the very same way; with a one third or half pound ball of 100% Certified Angus beef. Note: Their beef is delivered fresh daily and is not frozen. Next, they place a square piece of waxed paper over the ball and it's time to get to smashin'. Next, the beef is held down on a 400 degree grill with a meat press and pressure - what is the point of having a press without someone applying the pressure (stay with us folks). It is then seasoned and cooked to a perfect temperature of medium. The weight actually seals in the juices and allows the beef to be cooked fairly quickly and most important evenly, at a high temperature. This results in that wonderful sear around the edges of the beef. Lastly, they flip it over using an extra sharp spatula (making sure not to miss all those good drippings and sear) and they go in for round two of the "smash". Their process really explains why their burgers are so damn juicy! And the buck doesn't stop there! They even take the time to butter the freakin' bun. Pure genius.
Smashburger is more than just burgers - they have chicken, salads, hot dogs, and veggie burgers to round out their menu. Each menu is designed specifically to reflect the taste and flavors of the city or state where it's located. For example...
Texas Dog - 100% Angus beef hot dog, pepper jack cheese, guacamole, fresh jalapeños, spicy chipotle sauce, tomatoes and onions
Sin City - Fried egg, Applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, grilled onions, haystack onions and smash sauce on an egg bun.
San Diego - Fresh avocado, fresh cilantro and onions, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and spicy chipotle mayo on a torta roll. Served with a wedge of lime.
New Jersey - Applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese crumbles, grilled onions, haystack onions, lettuce, tomato and mayo on an onion bun & Stewart's® Bottles Soda Float - Root Beer, Orange n' Cream, Cream Soda or Wishniak Black Cherry served in a frosted mug.
That being said, burger spots are not what they used to be; with the Five Guys, Becks Primes, and Smashburgers of the world, we can't tell you the last time we have set foot in a McDonald's or a Burger King. We remember the days when McDonald's fries were the best thing since white rice. In comparison, these new fast casual "better burger" restaurants may have a higher price point, but you get what you pay for. The quality of the beef, the way it is prepared, down to the condiments they use draws a line between old school spots and the new school ones. As with any other cuisine, all these restaurants have their place. But, when you want rosemary fries or killer sweet potato fries, an optional fried egg, or a few slices of avocado on your burger, you know where to go...and my friends that would be Smashburger!
~ Urban Swank