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Jan 16, 2010 07:01 AM

Smash Burger La Jolla

Smash Burger will coming to La Jolla in the building next to the living room. The space use to be a candy store. Also they will opening another location in the Del Mar plaza.

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  1. Yay, let us applaud the further expansion of commodity beef in San Diego.

    I wonder if Food, Inc. will ever have enough impact that all these places will go out of business?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Josh, I don't think critical mass has been reached yet on this issue. I do think, however, that critical mass is growing and picking up a lot of speed. My prediction? It's at least another 5-8 years before we reach the point where the changes you'd like to see now begin to happen. A lot of the ideas and concepts about sustainability, locally grown, commodity products, etc. have only recently begun to percolate up into mass consciousness. I think it's got to be a little more mainstream before widespread and effective change can occur.

      Consider yourself a bellweather, or at least ahead of the curve. It will be your generation and younger that gets the transition accomplished, not my baby-boomer generation :-) Hang in there and keep speaking out.

      1. re: DiningDiva

        You should read "In defense of food" and afterwards you won't be this optimistic regarding your forecast when something will change. I also think that "just" looking on the meat industry is much too narrow and is just one small part of a much larger problem. It is important to change it but I often feel that the issue of commodity beef overshadows the discussion of much more fundamental issues.

          1. re: honkman

            Honkman, thanks for the rec on In Defense of Food. It's in my stack of "to read" books I always have on hand. I'll make it a point to move it up in the rotation.

            You may be right that it will take more than 5-8 years to really see much change. But my point was more that the level of public conscious awareness of the issues and problems surrounding how our food is produced and moved to market is still building. It hasn't reached that critical point where the scales tip and a saner, safer and more sensible process becomes the norm and not just the exception or some liberal, new age concept that only those with the resources (financial or not) can afford wholesome, well produced food.

            When I first started in the non-commerical food serivce business vegetarianism was a quaint practice with few dedicated participants. And veganism was totally exotic. In less than 25 years both vegetarianism and veganism have moved from the hippie fringe to an accepted, mainstream lifestyle choice. The world moves a lot faster now than it did even 35 years ago. I don't think it will take that long to facilitate that same type of change in food production and distribution.

      2. Here is another thread for more Smash Burger info:

        The San Diego Burger Invasion continues. Its kind of like Barbarians at the Gates.

        A good idea for a documentary would be to chronicle this time period for future generations.

        They could title it "Burgers at The Gates!"

        15 Replies
        1. re: stevewag23

          Just got the deets in an email this is from an attached press release


          ‘Better Burger’ Restaurant Heats up Corner of Prospect St. and Girard Ave. in La Jolla
          San Diego, Calif.—(February 24, 2010)—Smashburger, a fast-casual “better burger” restaurant will open its first San Diego location on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. The restaurant will open at 1000 Prospect St. and bring 100-percent Certified Angus Beef, an array of sides and delicious shakes to local residents. This is the first of seven San Diego Smashburger locations.

          San Diego Smashburgers will feature a customized local menu created with regional flavors and tastes in mind. The San Diego menu includes:

          • The signature San Diego Smashburger featuring fresh avocado, fresh cilantro and onions, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and chipotle mayo on a torta roll, served with a wedge of lime.

          • The Pacific Coast Wedge salad featuring a large wedge of crisp lettuce, topped with grilled chicken, fresh cilantro and onions, fresh diced tomatoes and grated cheddar cheese, with spicy chipotle dressing, served with a wedge of lime.

          • Regional microbrews from San Diego-based breweries.

          • Wine from California-based wineries.

          Named for the cooking method used to create the perfect burger, Smashburgers are a one-third or half-pound ball of 100-percent Certified Angus Beef—fresh, not frozen, smashed on a flat grill to sear in the juicy flavor. To further the “better burger” experience, Smashburgers are served on a toasted artisan bun and topped with a selection of real cheeses, the freshest produce, and top-quality condiments.

          Smashburger is known for its savory burgers, but the restaurant also serves up delicious Smashchicken sandwiches, Smashdogs, and Smashsalads, with sides like veggie frites, rosemary and garlic–seasoned Smashfries and sweet potato Smashfries. Burger lovers can pair their meals with beer, wine, Häagen-Dazs shakes, and root-beer floats.

          “Smashburger is what San Diego burger lovers have been waiting for,” says Smashburger Founder Tom Ryan. “We are excited to bring the La Jolla community our ‘better burgers’.”

          “We look forward to becoming San Diego’s favorite burger place,” says San Diego Smashburger co-owner David Whisenhunt. “Our combination of great food, excellent service and convenient location will win rave reviews from San Diegans.”

          1. re: Masa Assassin

            Impressive. Looks like they are looking to lock horns with Burger Lounge.

            1. re: stevewag23

              This could be interesting being a 'stones throw' from BL.

              1. re: cstr

                Smash Burger is just like Fatburger - same quality & same pricepoints... Just another Franchise Machine... Burger Lounge is a Homegrown Quality Establishment that SD is lucky to have.

                1. re: mjsp1

                  I understand that. I also think they have intentionally located near BL as a pure marketing play which is why I stated that this could be interesting from a business point of view. Nothing to do with food at all.

                  1. re: cstr

                    The idea that "they have located near BL as a pure marketing ploy" is absurd. Burger Lounge in La Jolla is located on Wall Street, a street that few tourists and visitors traverse. Smashburger is located on Prospect Street, one of the most popular streets for visitors and tourists.

                    I haven't been to Burger Lounge in a while, but as I recall, they don't have a liquor license. Smashburger will have a liquor license, and will serve beer (including local) and wine (California).

                    Why don't you wait till it opens and let people try it before you dis it.

                    1. re: Encinitan

                      Sorry but, I don't see the dis, all I'm stating is that there's new competition, corporate competition at that and they're pretty savvy. The village is a small and easy to get around on foot for locals as well as tourists. IMO, BL is easily accessable to everyone.

                      1. re: cstr

                        I'm sort of at a middle ground between cstr and Encinitan.

                        I agree with cstr's points on locality (look at a map, Encinitan - those places are close, probably just a pitching wedge for a decent golfer:


                        I think you overrate the visibility factor.

                        On the other hand, I disagree with cstr about Smash Burger truly being competition for Burger Lounge. Though BL might lose a little walk up traffic, many of their customers aren't going to "downgrade" to Smash Burger. In fact, I think places like Joey's Smokin BBQ and even Jack In The Box are the "true" competition.

                        1. re: RB Hound

                          Smash Burger offers a completely different product. BL has organic produce, custom-baked rolls, and grassfed beef. Equating the two ventures is to render the concept of ingredient sourcing and ingredient quality meaningless.

                          1. re: Josh

                            I agree with you, Josh. They really sound very different. However, it does seem like SB is trying to get at some of the same people BL does, based on that press release above. All the talk about the ingredients they use is chracteristic of places like BL where the difference really is the ingredients. I definitely think by the words they are using that they are trying to plant an image in people's minds of cows roaming rolling hillsides and backyard gardens with lettuces and tomatoes growing. I think there is a certain segment of the population that likes that, but doesn't think about it too hard, but feels like they are eating higher quality, healthier foods.

                            Looking at this as glass-half-full, and to DiningDiva's point, it does go to show, I believe, that the mainstream population of diners is changing incrementally as well. If normal places are marketing as though people care about the source of their food, that says something about the market. And as the market does that more, supplemented by things like Food, Inc. where people start to learn how to tell the difference better between shams and true efforts, theoretically it would, or at least could, keep moving slowly and steadily toward a market where truly local, organic, antibiotic free (etc etc) foods are a mainstream desire. So maybe there is a way to look at these chains more optimistically!

                            1. re: Josh

                              Yes BL does offer all you stated, but here's an example to chew on. A tourist is looking for a quick burger, do you think they know what type of beef BL serves?, doubtful. They'll most likely go where they have seen an ad, possibly scabbed up a coupon in a local tourist rag or are familiar with that particular burger because they have one back where they live.

                            2. re: RB Hound

                              Great analogy RB, my thought is based on simple eye catchers that get our attention. Just the fact that each has the name 'burger' is probably enough to create the idea that 'now we have another choice' when it comes to a burger. I also agree that other fast food places are competition, whether or not I personally like them i.e. Joey's Smokin BBQ. Another factor may be that Smash Burger has deeper pockets for advertising/coupons/specials etc.

                              1. re: cstr

                                And just across the street where Hard Rock Cafe and then French 101 is going to be.... a sports bar. Sure there'll be some burgers there. What La Jolla really needs is a Cafe Chloe type bistro but all they're getting is burgers and beer...

                                Cafe Chloe
                                721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                                1. re: keena

                                  Couldn't agree more, LJ really needs a nice bistro that won't break the bank. Maybe even a Wine Vault type of place. I believe the serious draw back will be in the lease.

                2. re: Masa Assassin

                  Impressive. Looks like they are looking to lock horns with Burger Lounge.

              2. What ever happened to McSnack in La jolla?

                1 Reply
                1. We were invited to their preopening lunch today. The location is directly next to the Living Room Cafe and we were a bit surprised that the inside looked like your average fastfood joint especially since they market themselves as a "high-end" burger place.
                  We sat next to Caron from sandiegofoodstuff and it was interesting to see when we talked with the owners/employees about the sources of their beef, produce etc. that they only focused on their 100% Angus beef and that the sources have to reliable. The beef and the buns come from Chicago and nothing is local beside their plans to have two beers from Ballast Point (when they have their license).
                  The burgers weren't anything special and reminded us of In'n'Out burgers (both chains claim that their meat is never frozen). You have a few more options at Smashburger than at In'n'Out (We had a San Diego Burger with avocado which was not bad and amushroom burger which had hardly any mushrooms. The sweet potato fries were OK). They have shakes with Haagen-Dasz icecream which is nice (even though H-D (as well as Ben Jerry) recently started to add HFCS to some of their icecreams which is not great).
                  Overall this chain (which plans to open 500 new joint in the US this year) is in the right location to be successful with the tourists but will not add anything new/better for the San Diego food community.

                  Living Room Cafe
                  880 National City Blvd, National City, CA 91950

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: honkman

                    That pretty much confirms what Caron said. Burgers - nothing special, and the onion rings were a greasy and overly salted mess. I think Burger Lounge reputation among locals will remain safe.

                    1. re: honkman

                      exactly what I expected it to be. I'll go once to say I went and that will probably be it.

                      1. re: SDGourmand

                        What did you expect, it is what it is, a fast food burger joint. I'm surprised they knew the burger was angus beef. Unfortunately the tourists will love it.

                        1. I went to the Elle Communications media event last night at 7:45 and it was quite the scene. A local band was performing in front of the building. I saw several Fox News correspondents inside. The restaurant was packed. While I was waiting in line to order, they passed out milkshake and malt samples all of which were quite tasty.
                          I ordered:
                          1/2lb Mushroom Swiss Smashburger with extra mushrooms and extra swiss.
                          1/2lb Spicy Baja Smashburger
                          Smashwedge Salad
                          Smash Fries
                          Veggi Frites
                          IBC Root Bear

                          Both burgers were pretty good sized, much larger than a single In-N-Out. They were juicy and well seasoned. My Mushroom Swiss had plenty of mushrooms, probably because I ordered extra. I liked the Spicy Baja too, but they got a little carried away with the jalapenos (in their defence, it it is called "Spicy" Baja, and spicy it was). Also worthy of note, the buns were excellent, fresh and just the right texture. The Smashwedge salad was cold and crisp with plenty of blue cheese crumbles and dressing. The fries were fresh and hot, but a tad thinner than I prefer. I enjoyed the crisp vegi frites, but be forwarned, since they are flash fried, they are a bit oily.

                          Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Smashburger. It is certainly on a higher plane than McDonalds, Carl's Jr., Jack in the Box, Wendy's or Burger King. The founder, Tom Ryan, is a marketing and branding guru, and this outpost of his operation has a slick, corporate feel. They could not have picked a better location, smack-dab in the heart of Prospect St. I am sure this location will succeed, but I shudder think how much their rent is. Elle Communications, and in particular, Carlye Wund, did a great job with the launch party. It was a lot of fun

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Captain Jack

                            $3.25sq ft. They spent a little over 700k renovating the space

                            1. re: SDGourmand

                              "700k renovating the space"

                              Burger Joints aren't cheap.

                              1. re: SDGourmand

                                I used to work in that building..$3.25 is a great price per square foot for downtown LJ..actually cheap but its the economic times..I'm sure they signed a 10 year lease but $700k in TI's is pricey...maybe that figure includes the fixtures..trying to remember the square footage of that space..2,500sf?
                                I think they are going to kick some serious ass at that location.
                                Wishing them all the best!

                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                  "maybe that figure includes the fixtures"

                                  I am hoping they were Italian Marble fixtures.

                                  1. re: stevewag23

                                    Another note on the costs to operate - Burger Lounge is only 900 sq. ft. that means the Bl's rent is going to be around $2500 a month... and Smashburgers is going to be over 12k/mo... they need to sell 5x as many burgers.... good luck...

                                    1. re: mjsp1

                                      Burger Lounge is going to be closer to $5000 a month and Smash Burger is $7700.