Smashburger Is Trying To revolutionise 'Better Burgers'

smashburger event

Photo: Kim Bhasin / Business Insider

Smashburger is growing fast. The “better burger” chain has more than 100 locations nationwide, and plans to double that number soon.

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The man behind the concept is Tom Ryan. He’s a long-time food exec who’s known for his prowess developing new products and marketing programs.

In his past, he worked on big-time items like McDonald’s McGriddles and Dollar Menu, Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust Pizza and Quiznos’ Sammies.

Ryan’s latest focus is getting beer more integrated into his better burger concept. He’s trying to pair craft beer with Smashburger’s fare.

“I truly think beer is the new wine,” Ryan tells us. He says he’s doing it to help distinguish the brand, and that he wants Smashburger to stay at the “cutting edge” of innovation. 

Ryan wants his brand to be seen as consistently ahead of the game — a revolutionary concept that keeps evolving. Smashburger wants to “carry the torch for the modern burger lover.” Nothing should be standard.

He’s touring Smashburger’s various regions to find local breweries to be partners. So far, he has Chicago, Minneapolis, San Diego, New York and Phoenix set, and he’s working on Las Vegas, Dallas and Miami.

We stopped by New York City’s only Smashburger location in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, for a beer-and-burger pairing event hosted by Ryan.

Smashburger's only location in New York City is in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, on DeKalb Ave. across the street from Long Island University.

This is what we're here for — a pairing party.

In NYC, Smashburger is partnering with Six Point Brewery.

There was plenty to go around.

We met up with Tom Ryan, the mind behind Smashburger, back in the kitchen. He showed us how they literally smash their burgers.

Here's what they smash the burgers with.

The ball of ground meat gets smashed...

... and then you add some seasoning.

The finished product. The smashing helps keep in the juices, and yes, it was incredibly juicy when we tried it.

Beef isn't the only meat at Smashburger. It also sells chicken and pastrami.

Naturally everything inside is branded Smashburger.

There's plenty on the menu to choose from, but today Smashburger has lined up eight burgers and eight beers, all paired up for maximum indulgence.

Along with some sides like fries.

And fries of the sweet potato variety.

They cut up the burgers into fours so that we didn't stuff ourselves too quickly. This is the Brooklyn Burger, which is topped with pastrami. It was our favourite of the bunch, paired with an ale made from rye and barley malts.

And the New Yorker Burger, on a brioche bun.

Smashburger had buckets set up for the tasting. After all, we had a lot of beer to go through.

Next up, The Classic.

Each burger was paired with with a Six Point brew. This Mushroom Swiss Burger was paired with a brown ale.

The Spicy Baja Burger is Smashburger's spicy offering, with pepper jack cheese, jalapenos and a Chipotle-studded bun.

The BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar Burger had applewood-smoked bacon and haystack onions.

Chicken was also on the pairing menu. Here's the Spinach and Goat Cheese Chicken Sandwich.

And the Crispy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.

It was paired with an intense, high-alcohol double IPA.

Stuffed, it was time to head out. We said bye to our server Nikki and went on our way.

Now see a different kind of restaurant, from a celebrity chef

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