Smashburger CEO Confident in 'Better Burger' Chain's Future in Canada


Smashburger CEO Confident in 'Better Burger' Chain's Future in Canada - Kandessa

Smashburger's entry into Calgary, Alberta marks a defined moment for the chain's international expansion. After signing new agreements this summer for three middle east markets ─  Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ─  the chain seems determined to grow both domestically, and internationally, at a rapid pace.

The Denver-based "better burger" chain surprised the industry today, announcing it had entered into two lease agreements for stores in the City of Calgary in the Province of Alberta, Canada, to operate company-owned stores. It's just the beginning of a slew of Smashburgers in the Calgary market: a development of 10 to 15 units over several years in Calgary and neighboring Edmonton, nearly 300 kilometers to the north.

The site selection, however, is no surprise. In 2006, Calgary was the third largest city in Canada and Smashburger's management is known for making decisions on a solid foundation of quantitative data.

"We are confident in our ability to succeed and grow in Canada, and look forward to introducing our premium burgers to local residents," says David Prokepek, chairman and chief executive for Smashburger. He says that burgers have a global appeal, and Smashburger's ability to bring local flavors to the market, premium "smashed" burgers, and a diverse offering, position the chain to be a favorite in Canada. 

In Canada, Smashburger will have to compete against South St. Burger Co. and Hero Certified Burgers, the top two chains in the country.¹ The new stores will be located at Centre 32, 2770 32 Ave NE, Calgary and at 8888 Country Hills Blvd. N.W., Calgary. 

Smashburger is a U.S better burger chain that is known for entering new markets with "local flavors," adapting its menu to offer "relevant" menu items that are regionally appealing. In Michigan, Smashburger offers a Michigan Oliver Burger, bringing back a nostalgic favorite of Spanish Olives, reminiscent of the 50's era in the state.

The San Diego Smashburger offers a blend of Mexican and So. Cal., including ingredients like cilantro, avocados and pepper jack cheese on a torta roll (sweet Mexican roll).

The new stores in Calgary speak to the aggressive plans of the chain that is backed by Consumer Capital Partners (CCP). Smashburger initially expressed a hot appetite for Canada to Quick Serve Leader in January; Prokupek says that the chain is actively looking to head west and sign deals in Vancouver , B.C. and Toronto, Ontario.

"We believe the Calgary market presents a strong entry point for introducing Smashburger to Canada as it has common roots to our hometown market of Denver where Smashburger has been successful," he says. "...we are in active discussions with potential franchise partners to further expand our Canadian presence."

In addition to burgers, Smashburger offers chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and several creative sides, like Veggie Frites, a flash-fried mix of vegetables. The 143-unit chain is also known for its "hand-spun" Häagen-Dazs® shakes. Founder and Chief Concept Officer Tom Ryan has said previously that everywhere there is the opportunity, the Smashburger chain will also offer alcoholic beverages to appeal and satisfy the evening and late night social crowds.

"There are some very good burger options in the marketplace that have done a great job of growing the appetite for better burgers in Canada," says Prokupek. " We believe there is room for additional growth in the space, and we will fight hard to become Canada’s favorite place for burgers."

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¹Data from Technomic, Inc. Ranking is by 2010 sales

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Copyright: Kandessa Media. All rights reserved.

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This story appears in:  Fast Casual | Chain News

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