First look: Smashburger unveils new design concept

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Next year, Smashburger, the smashingly successful Colorado-based burger chain, will unleash sixty to seventy more locations, not just in Colorado, or nationally, but around the world, all of which will incorporate a new design concept that's just been unveiled in Colorado, including the newest outpost at 6305 East Hampden, just off I-25.

See also: - Smashburger hauls its buns all the way to Costa Rica - Smashburger and New Belgium team up on burger-and-beer pairings - Exclusive first look: Tom's Urban 24 opens on Halloween

Tom Ryan, who founded Smashburger five years ago (he also owns and operates Tom's Urban 24 in Larimer Square) calls the prolific chain's new design scheme -- which has been incorporated into four stores, three in metro Denver, and one in Los Angeles -- Smashburger's "newest evolution," and it's a design commitment, he says, that adheres to the corporate philosophy of "staying forever young." And in an increasingly competitive restaurant climate, especially with regard to emerging fast-casual concepts that continue to pop up throughout the country, that doctrine makes sense.

"When we created Smashburger, our management team was committed to doing things modern at every turn, and as we grow into other cities, we've been quietly developing new designs," explains Ryan, noting that this is the company's third design upgrade in five years. "It's an effort on our part to keep the brand as modern as possible, and we're still nimble enough to achieve that, while we grow with grace and ease."

The new design blueprint, which I had a sneak peek of earlier this morning, at the Hampden store, is apparent in its aesthetics, graphics, functionality and branding. As Ryan notes, the most recent Smashburger spaces are contemporary, with a narrative focus, evident in everything from the etched glass that details the attributes of those burgers -- "fresh," "juicy," "delicious" and "smashed to order" -- to the kaleidoscopic photography on the espresso-hued walls, much of which spotlights Colorado landmarks, including Union Station and and Coors Field.

"One of our key objectives," emphasizes Ryan, "was to integrate story-telling into our stores, both through words and new graphic approaches, including mosaics and photography on the walls that bring diverse energy and localize our venues."

The new Smashburger stores also incorporate different design materials -- subway tiling, wood grains and rafters, wood-motifed floors with abstract patterns, walls of windows, that, in the case of the Hampden space, invite natural sunlight and overlook the Rocky Mountains (as does the spacious patio), along with a color palette that still trumpets that iconic cherry red but also highlights warm brown tones. "It's modern, it's clean, we have a lot more wood, and it's more sophisticated," says Ryan.

There's a partially open kitchen, too, where guests can peek. "Over the years, guests have stopped me ask for a more open kitchen, so we've expanded the view into our kitchen a little more to give people a sense of the energy of what goes on in there," Ryan says. Digital menu boards and a well-stocked beverage display at the counter, are also new additions. "This is the new generation of Smashburger," says Ryan.

And there are plenty of additional Smashburgers on the way. Ryan reveals that he'll open at least two more in the Denver metropolitan area next year, and estimates that, on average, one to two stores per week open worldwide. "It's all dependent upon how the real estate falls, so that's an average, but our growth plans are definitely getting pretty aggressive."

Here's a first look at the design Smashburger scheme that will soon dominate the burger world.

For more photos of the new Smashburger design, flip the page.

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