The Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut announced Tuesday that its first burger franchise restaurant will be in Waterford.
The tribe has entered into a franchise agreement with Denver-based Smashburger to open up 16 restaurants in Easter Connecticut, Western and Centeral Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The franchise has burgers, salads, fries and sandwiches on the menu, as well as "hand-spun" milkshakes. The Smashchicken sandwich is a featured menu item, including provolone cheese, baby spinach, pesto, giardiniera, tomatoes and mayonaise on a ciabatta bun.
The burgers are all-natural certified Angust Beef and "smashed on a 400 degree flat grill to sear in the juicy flavor" and served on artisan buns, according to a news release from the Mohegan Tribe.
The first Connecticut Smashburger will move into a 2,500-square-foot storefront at Waterford Commons on the Hartford Turnpike (Route 85) and is expected to open in early December. The space is under renovation "to match the sleek and modern design of the burger brand," according to a news release from the Mohegan tribe. The new restaurant will bring in about 30 to 40 new jobs.
“Smashburger will continue our Tribe’s reputation for bringing the best to our region,” said Kevin Brown “Red Eagle,” Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council. “We have been consistently impressed by the company’s commitment to bringing the fast-casual restaurant experience to a higher level and providing excellent customer service. We also look forward to bringing new jobs to our community. Smashburger is a great addition to the Tribe’s continuing business diversification efforts.”
The tribe is "in the planning stages" its other future Smashburger locations.
The tribe, which has been exploring "diversification opportunities" for years, also has entered into an agreement with Arooga's Franchising, LP to run 15 Arooga's Grille House and Sports Bar restaurants in New England, according to a previous news release from the tribe.
Northeast Wood Products, LLC, the tribe's subsidiary business, also recently acquired a wood pellet production operation in Peebles, Ohio and plans to purchase another in Ligonier, Indiana.
"After almost two years of careful diligence on diversification opportunities for the Tribe, we have been able to see the results of our efforts with the addition of the Smashburger franchise to our group of new companies," Brown said. "We chose this brand because of its superior product offering and its reputation as one of the fastest growing and most successful franchises in the United States."
A Smashburger spokesperson said in a statement that the franchise is enthusiastic expanding its footprint to the Northeast.
“This opportunity was one that is a perfect fit for our brand," Matt Stanton, vice president of development and strategy for Smashburger, said. "With the experience of the Tribe and our desire to find experienced multi-unit operators to grow with, we know this partnership will be one that aligns with our growth plans for Smashburger.”
Smashburger President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Crane said that the company is "thrilled to debut" the restaurant in Connecticut and "introduce our menu of premium smashed-to-order burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, and signature sides and handspun Haagen-Dazs shakes to this culinary capital."
“The Mohegan Tribe will be a perfect partner for us as we continue to expand our presence nationally and bring the better burger experience to the Connecticut market," Crane said.
Under the agreement, Smashburger will open up locations in New London, Tolland, Windham, Litchfield and Middlesex Counties in Connecticut, as well as Rhode Island and Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden and Worcester counties in Massachusetts.
More information about Smashburger is available on the company website.