Last visit: January 2013
Total DFW locations: 12 + 1 on the way.
Total locations: Over 200 and growing fast
It appears all along that Smashburger was designed to be the next big thing in burgers. Their website is quite telling. There's no history talking about how Mom spent years working in the back kitchen of a bakery working out a special burger recipe, and finally scraped enough pennies to open her first store. And by word of mouth, it was so popular a second location opened up 10 years later. And finally some investors came in, and bought out sweet old Rosie May, and began to franchise the concept. NOPE. What you get to read about instead is their Executive Team and Board of Advisors. Even McDonalds has a good story to tell. Not Smashburger, unless you're enthralled with something that goes along the lines of: "We sat in a boardroom, and came up with a new winning concept regarding the QSR industry. Our return to investors is...". Smashburger is based in Denver, and really that is an excellent locale to seed their idea. Other than the drive-through only Good Times Burgers, there really isn't any major local burger chains in the area. And Denver is a proven stomping ground for chains in the making - one needs to look no further than Quizno's, Chipotle, and Qdoba to determine that. As you all well know by now, the RJG resided in Colorado (mainly Denver) from late 1993 to early 2003. There were no Smashburger's then. We first heard of the chain while spending the summer of 2009 there. I tried the location in the Denver Tech Center (Greenwood Village). It was packed to the rafters, and quite frankly the burger is very good. I vowed to return, but there were just too many other places in Denver to try, and I never made it back.
As mentioned in the premise, Smashburger wasn't meant to be a local or regional chain. And now they're spreading the country like a weed. DFW already has many locations, most opening up in the last couple of years. And Watauga was chosen for our Northeast Tarrant location (technically Ft. Worth for that one guy who gets bent out shape about these things).
Since this is really a Corporate America restaurant, I'd say this location is already on its back heels. Because it's all about money, I don't know if it will be given a chance to thrive. There were only a couple of folks in the restaurant, and it was Noon time. It was nothing like the scene I saw back in Denver. But the reality is this: There's only so much burger dollar out there. DFW isn't Denver. We have tons of burger places already. And with the new genre of burger houses offering up a full array of beers, and other libations, that alone wipes away part of the market. As for strictly fast food options, not only do we have our indigenous Whataburger and Mooyah, but we've been invaded by popular outsiders such as In-N-Out and Five Guys (we've written about all of these in the past). And that doesn't even begin to discuss the megachains, and popular local places. As a corporate guy myself, I'm going to say that Smashburger didn't do their homework regarding this market. We'll see. I'm sure some locations are doing OK, but the Watuaga one is way too lonely of a space. (Update: Cowboy Junkie informs us that dinner time is standing room only, so it appears they are doing quite well!)
Oh, you came here to read about food, and not business? Sorry about that. So there's a lot less to talk about regarding the food. It's a burger joint. Their gimmick? Roll up the patty like a big ol' meatball, and then... (can you guess this part?)... they SMASH it. Wowweeeee. Amazing. Is it good? Heck yea! It has that key ingredient that makes all of our favorite burgers so great: Salt. And I like the egg buns, which are soft and delicious. And be sure to use their spicy chipotle mayonnaise as a condiment. In the end, Smashburger is good at what they claim to do.
But will I be back? Maybe. If I'm in the area, or if I haven't been in a long time. Hopefully they'll still be there, but I have my doubts. There's just too many other choices out there right now. Perhaps if they open a location within 5-10 minutes of our house, that could increase the chances that we'll go.