Smashburger is challenging fast-casual peers in thebetter-burger category. Its first restaurant opened in June 2007 at1120 S. Colorado Blvd. in Glendale, CO and five more came on linein the Denver metro before the year ended. With four more Denverspots in the pipeline, the owners believe it's time to take theirshow on the road and Texas is a natural next stop.

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"We think it's a great market because Texans definitely liketheir hamburgers," says Ryan McMonagle, Smashburger's CFO. He tellsGlobeSt.com that Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston each will start withtwo "grade A-plus locations" this year and reach eight to 10 before2009 ends, putting the new chain on "a clear path to 30 over thenext three-year period" in each city. The Texas drive will round upSan Antonio and Austin in the next wave along with Minneapolis. "Weare actively working LOIs in all cities," McMonagle confides,adding the Central Texas cities are being primed for 15 to 20restaurants each. Orders also are being placed for spots in KansasCity and Wichita, KS.

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[IMGCAP(2)]A Dallas lease will be signed any day now, with talksalready underway for a second location. Houston's first Smashburgeris going into an unnamed strip center at the intersection of MainStreet and Kirby Drive, right beside Reliant Center. Smashburger'sDallas scouts are Kelly Hampton, senior vice president, and JamesDunn, vice president, both with Venture Commercial Real Estate LLCand its Houston hunt is being led by Baker Katz Commercial RealEstate, which has two more leases in line to be signed.

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"It's a proven genre. While it's relatively new to Dallas, it'sbeing very well received," Hampton says. "We are being veryselective." The search is focused on Dallas proper, North Dallasand the Plano-Frisco submarket.

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Smashburger's executive team is signing five-year leases for1,800-sf to 2,200-sf inline and end-cap spots. McMonagle says themust-haves are locations with high visibility, strong daytimepopulations in a three-mile radius and residential density to seeddemand for dinnertime too.

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Smashburger's chief competitors in the fast-casual better-burgercategory are Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Mooyah Burgers &Fries. "There is no dominant play in this category. We think everylocal market has a very strong local competitor and there are someother hamburger concepts that target a similar market as well,"McMonagle says. "We really knew where we wanted to go with thisconcept, but we let the customers tell us what they wanted--theburger is for burger lovers."

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In Greater Dallas, Five Guys Enterprises LLC of Lorton, VA, hasopened in the Galleria Dallas mall and Southlake. Dallas-basedMooyah has three locations in the metroplex, and like itscompetitors, has eateries coming on line in the Austin and Houstonmetros.

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McMonagle says Smashburger's parent, Consumer Capital Partnersof Denver, has mapped out its expansion as a mix of corporate-ownedrestaurants and franchise territories. Talks are underway withfranchisee prospects on both coasts.

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Based on the five Denver restaurants, Smashburger is ringing up$682 in sales per sf. "We are outperforming what our internalexpectations were," McMonagle says. The cost to open a franchiselocation is $280,000 to $400,000, including equipment, according toSmashburger's franchise development document.

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Smashburger's specialty fare is a Angus steak burger inone-third pound or half-pound patties, smashed on a flat grill toseal in natural flavor as it's cooked and then served open face ona toasted buttered bun in a "create your own" sandwich by choosingbuns, cheeses, toppings and dressings. Chicken sandwiches andsalads are on the menu too. It's fast-casual with modern décor tocreate an atmosphere for a family- and business-driven customerbase.

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Consumer Capital's founders Rick and Dick Schaden and theirentire team are seasoned concept chefs, with ties to dining hitsfor many nationals, including Boston Market, Quizno's, McDonald'sand Pizza Hut. Consumer Capital is a private investment,concept/brand development and strategic advisory firm.

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"We're restaurant operators so holding a restaurant for a longtime is a possibility, but we're not closing any doors," McMonaglesays. "There is not an ultimate exit scenario in play right nightnow."

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