The Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut has entered into a franchise agreement with Denver-based Smashburger to open up 16 restaurants in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The franchise has burgers, salads, fries and sandwiches on the menu, as well as "hand-spun" milkshakes.
The deal is the third business move the tribe has announced in the past few months. 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 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," Kevin Brown "Red Eagle," chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, 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.”
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.