Orange County Business Journal

Smashburger, Capriotti’s Chart OC Growth Plans

Kari Hamanaka Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two restaurant chains have targeted Orange County for growth plans.

Denver-based burger chain Smashburger Master LLC said it plans to open as many as 20 new stores in Orange County over the next five years through franchising agreements.

Smashburger’s first OC locations, in Mission Viejo and Aliso Viejo, are expected to open by the end of the year.

The company gets its name from the way burgers are cooked, with the patties smashed onto a grill. Smashburger also sells chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and salads.

The company operates in what is known in the restaurant industry as the “better burger category,” which includes chains with a focus on quality ingredients and a starting price of about $3 to $5 for a standard burger. Smashburger prices start at $4.29. Competitors include In-N-Out Burgers Inc. and Habit Restaurant LLC, both of Irvine, along with Virginia-based Five Guys Enterprises LLC.

Smashburger saw sales of $118.7 million from 143 restaurants last year, according to Chicago-based industry research and consulting firm Technomic Inc.

Smashburger joins Las Vegas-based gourmet submarine sandwich chain Capriotti’s, which opened its first OC location in Tustin on Monday.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop franchisee KCI Investments LLC of Las Vegas has plans to open 20 stores in Orange County by 2018.

Capriotti’s sells cold, grilled and vegetarian sub sandwiches along with salads.

A second Capriotti’s in Newport Beach is slated to open by the end of this year.

The local growth is part of a larger push by the company, with additional franchising agreements in San Diego and Los Angeles.

Capriotti’s has more than 80 company-owned and franchised stores in 12 states, including California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida.

The company had sales of $45.5 million spread over 75 stores in 2011, according to Technomic.