Smash hit: Smashburger expanding

Smashburger has its plate full with expansion plans that include at least five more locations on the Front Range by year’s end.

The fast-casual burger restaurant opened its fifth location in Englewood on Thursday and is negotiating leases for Arvada, the Stapleton area, Broomfield, Thornton and Colorado Springs, company president Scott Crane said.

He said expansion plans also include locations in Fort Collins by next month and five to 10 more in Dallas, Houston and elsewhere in Texas and the Midwest by the end of the year. The restaurants serve beer and wine in addition to food.

Hazel Hartbarger, director of the Arvada Economic Development Association, said she has received several resident requests through comment cards for a Smashburger in the area.

New restaurants employ 20 to 25 people each.

Smashburger was launched in Glendale in June 2007 by private-equity firm Consumer Capital Partners, whose chairman, Richard Shaden, invested $15 million in April to support expansion to 500 stores over five years. Shaden helped Denver-based Quiznos grow from regional sandwich shops in the 1990s to the second-largest chain in the country.

Smashburger spokesman Joe Hodas said that while the burger restaurant also plans on storming the national front, Smashburger will focus its growth model on its corporate-owned stores and joint-venture partnerships instead of solely on franchises.

“It’s easier to start things on your home turf rather than going to a market cold where you might not have the connection, the input and the lay of the land that you would in your own backyard,” Hodas said. “Denver has proven itself to be a very strong launching ground for national fast-casual restaurants.”

The “fast-casual” serving time and price range — the average ticket is $9 and tables typically turn in 25 minutes — have allowed Smashburger to target a niche market between fast food and sit-down dinner that is fairly underserved, Hodas said.