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Sherri Richards, Published December 17 2010

Seeking a ‘Smash’ success

A new burger place smashes its way into southwest Fargo today.

Smashburger officially opens at 10 a.m. at 1801 45th St. S. The Denver-based franchise is referred to as a “better burger” restaurant, said co-owner Grant Hensrud.

“People are tired of fast food,” Hensrud said. “This is a step up from the quick service. We try to make it a full-service experience with full-service quality in a quick, casual setting.”

The 84-seat restaurant, decorated in red and silver with a modern glass-tiled wall and curvy light fixtures, can serve beer and wine with its burgers and fries. It’s also known for its Haagen-Dazs milk shakes, malts and root beer floats.

Smashburger gets its name from the method used to cooks its burgers. A one-third or half-pound ball of Certified Angus beef is smashed onto a 400-degree flat grill coated with melted butter.

“It caramelizes it and sears in the flavor and juices,” said Kristyl Bjerke, manager of the Fargo store.

Besides burgers, the menu features grilled and crispy chicken sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, smoked sausages and sides, such as rosemary and garlic-seasoned fries, fried pickles and flash-fried asparagus, carrots and green beans.

The new Fargo location, like all Smashburger restaurants, also offers two regional menu items. The North Dakota Burger is topped with melted cheddar bar cheese, Swiss cheese, spicy grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and mayo on a butter-toasted pretzel bun. The North Dakota Smoked Sausage features pickles, onion, sauerkraut and Gulden’s mustard on a toasted poppy seed bun.

Hensrud said localization is encouraged by the chain, which is on track to have more than 200 locations by 2012 and more than 400 over next four years.

One example: All food sales from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today will be donated to the Dakota Medical Foundation’s Lend A Hand program and matched by DMF.

Hensrud said he and co-owner Todd Fisher will try to open a few more Smashburgers in North Dakota, perhaps in Grand Forks or Bismarck. The two families also own Qdoba restaurants in Fargo, Moorhead, Bismarck and Grand Forks.

The Fargo store will employ 30 people total, Hensrud said.

“Everyone seems excited,” Hensrud said before the store opening. “Any new restaurant is fun. This brand is hot.”

Business profile: Smashburger

Ownership: Grant Hensrud and Todd Fisher, River Smash

Where: 1801 45th St. S., Fargo

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Contact: (701) 478-2111

Online: www.smashburger.com

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556