Smashburger, the leading fast-casual restaurant chain renowned for its hand-smashed to order burgers, announced today the signing of a multi-unit development agreement to further expand its footprint in Utah, bringing five new locations to Salt Lake City. Leading the brand’s expansion in the market is multi-unit franchisee Michael Walker of Zuvachs, LLC., who acquired two existing Smashburger locations in Salt Lake City through the deal. The announcement builds on the growth momentum that Smashburger has achieved since the beginning of the year, adding 26 locations to its pipeline.
“We are extremely proud of the growth that has been accomplished since reigniting our franchise development program towards the end of last year. Franchisees across the country have seen first-hand how strongly our elevated better-burger experience resonates in each of the markets we operate in, and see the promise in our brand’s vision,” says Toni Bianco, Senior Vice President of Global Operations at Smashburger. “We’re looking to partner with experienced operators that are eager to grow, and Michael has proven to fit that classification.”
Starting his career as a General Manager for SONIC Drive-In and holding managerial titles for other large brands like Burger King, Walker has over a decade of experience in the restaurant industry. In November of 2019, Walker and his business partners, Ralph Bohn, Joe Carpenter and Melanie Castillo, formulated Zuvachs, LLC and began their franchising journey. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic they acquired their first Smashburger location in Lehi, Utah and have been seeking growth opportunities with the brand ever since. In addition to the group’s portfolio of Smashburger restaurants, Walker and Zuvachs are set to build five Fazoli’s locations in Greater Salt Lake City.
“From the moment I took my first bite into Smashburger’s signature smashed patty, I knew we had found a brand that shared our passion for quality, flavor and innovation. The brand’s commitment to using fresh, premium ingredients and their dedication to handcrafting each burger with precision sets them apart in the fast casual industry,” says Walker. “Along with craveable menu items, Smashburger continues to show immense growth potential due to the increased consumer demand for a modern customer experience. We are thrilled to be leading the brand’s expansion in Salt Lake City!”
Founded in 2007 in Denver, Colorado, Smashburger is a better-burger brand known for its innovative approach to crafting delicious and high-quality burgers.From the way the burgers are cooked, to the unique flavors they offer, Smashburger is constantly pushing the boundaries of what a burger can be.With over 240 locations, across 34 states and seven countries, Smashburger is the quickest fast casual concept to hit the 200-restaurant milestone and has sustained consistent growth due to its ongoing brand innovation which helps drive store profitability and build guest loyalty. This past year, the brand also redefined its portfolio with the launch of a new restaurant design with some locations offering a full-service bar.
Additionally, this March, Smashburger unveiled its new Virtual Drive-Thru design and began testing the prototype at its latest location in Houston. An extension of the traditional drive-thru experience, the Virtual Drive-Thru allows customers to seamlessly place an order online or through the Smashburger app, then pull through the designated parking lane where their food will be delivered to the driver by a Smashburger team member. The Virtual Drive-Thru prototype, coupled with the brand’s refreshed kitchen design, reinforces the brand’s commitment to innovation and staying in lockstep with the increased consumer demand for convenience and accessibility.
Smashburger is looking to expand within Southern California, Georgia and the Carolina’s, as well as Florida. Smashburger provides franchise operators site selection criteria, construction, decor, as well as opening support. Once open, the Smashburger team provides regular feedback on ways to increase sales, improve operations and monitor guest feedback.