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This Fast-Casual Burger Chain Is Opening Dozens of New Locations

Get ready for more smashed burgers with crispy edges.

One beloved fast-casual burger chain is betting on the old adage that bigger is better. That means bigger burgers, larger buns, more bacon, and a bigger real estate footprint.

Going from 240 units to 260 units this year, with an additional 20 planned for 2023 and about 30 more in 2024 won't be easy given inflation and supply chain issues, but this chain thinks it figured out what customers want, and that's more of everything.

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Smashburger, which is known for its certified Angus beef burgers that are literally smashed on the grill (supposedly this sears the juices and seals the flavor), announced in late August a deal to open 15 new stores in and near Tampa, Fla., with franchisee Jiandong "Peter" Xu of TLC Gourmet Food International. The restaurant operator currently owns two Smashburger spots in Tampa, and five in Philadelphia, according to Nation's Restaurant News. He has also signed on to open three Smashburgers in Pennsylvania, according to QSR Magazine.

"It's an exciting concept that has elevated fast-casual dining with the highest-quality food served in a fun, engaging atmosphere," Xu says in a statement. "I love being part of the Smashburger brand, and I can't wait to get started bringing more of it to the Tampa area."

Ever since Smashburger President Carl Bachmann took the reins in 2019, Smashburger has grown in every way possible. In addition to opening more locations and upping the size of its burgers, Smashburger also moved to a regionalized hub-and-spoke approach, helping with supply chain and operations.

The chain has also gotten a new look—instead of the former bright red, brown, and yellow colors, new Smashburger stores are now light and modern, with lower counters and open kitchens.

Like other fast-food restaurants, Smashburger is revamping its mobile and drive-thru options, with the first digital drive-thru unit expected to open at the end of 2022 in Houston. Within a year, the company expects to have four corporate and one franchised virtual drive-thrus (for mobile pickups only), and possibly some pedestrian pickup windows in urban areas.

In Denver, one of the Smashburgers may even see a full-service bar, complete with cocktails like Blackberry Smash, Smoke and Spice Margarita, and more.

Danielle Braff
Danielle Braff is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Read more about Danielle