9965 Hudson Place, Woodbury, MN
Type: Retail
Lease size: 2,200 square feet
Landlord: CSM Corp.

Details: Even in the worst of retail climates, some chain concepts are still winners. CSM Corp. has landed one of them in Smashburger, the Denver-based “gourmet burger” chain.

CSM and restaurant officials said the quickly expanding chain will open its fifth Twin Cities outlet in the first quarter of next year — probably February — in an “end cap” space at Woodbury Marketplace, just south of the Interstate 94-Woodbury Drive interchange.

Smashburger has taken a 2,200-square-foot space formerly occupied by Cunningham Sports and is making improvements worth $220,000, according to city documents.

Justin Wing, Woodbury Marketplace’s leasing agent, said Smashburger’s agents have been combing the Twin Cities market for suitable retail sites as they undertake a massive expansion program.

“We worked with them on their first Twin Cities location at the Shops at Plymouth Creek earlier this year,” he said. “What they’re looking for are sites with a ‘regional community center’ feel, that have good big-box anchors and higher daytime populations of nearby workers for the lunch crowds.”

According to industry analysts, Smashburger is drawing all kinds of crowds to its locations, which have found a lucrative niche among cash-strapped consumers downsizing from “fast casual” restaurants but still are looking for something a step above “quick service restaurants,” or QSRs, such as McDonald’s.

Restaurant analysts at Technomic Inc. say sales at premium burger concepts such as Smashburger — which touts fresh ground beef, gourmet bread and other trendy attractions — was the prime driver behind the 4.4 percent sales growth in all U.S. burger restaurants last year.

Smashburger led the Top 50 U.S. burger chains in growth, with revenues up more than 150 percent over 2007.