Smashburger will enter the Columbia market in November when it opens on Garners Ferry Road, across from the Gamecock Bi-Lo and near the new Whole Foods also opening this fall.
The Denver, Colo.-based chain popular for actually smashing its burgers has grown rapidly in the past five years. It was named the most promising company in America last year by Forbes Magazine. This will be its first restaurant in South Carolina.
The 2,300-square-foot restaurant will open next to a new Moes Southwest Grill planned for the site.
Both will be owned by Steve Taylor and his business partner, Chris Smith, who also operate three of the Moes locations in the Columbia area, as well as 13 others.
Taylor, who graduated from Irmo High School and the University of South Carolina and has lived in Columbia for more than 20 years, said he also is looking for up to four more Columbia-area locations for Smashburger restaurants. He is looking throughout the downtown area, as well as Irmo, Lexington and Northeast Richland, he said.
The burger category is hot, its on fire, said Taylor, who eight years ago was general manager of the Moes on Main Street.
But what appealed to him about Smashburger is the restaurant has a variety of gourmet foods, including a chicken sandwich on a wheat bun with avocado or a spinach and goat cheese salad. It carries veggie burgers, sweet potato fries and even Häagen-Dazs milkshakes.
It also sells 100 percent Angus beef burgers that are rolled into meatballs from fresh meat each morning, according to its website. Once the customer orders, the meatball is smashed onto the grill with butter and a spice blend to seal in the juices.
If the restaurant is received well in Columbia, Taylor hopes to expand it to other markets, including Greenville and Charleston.
He said the location of the states first store near Columbias first Whole Foods was a natural fit.
Theres no doubt that Whole Foods is going to pull from not only Columbia but the suburban areas of Columbia, as well, Taylor said. Its going to be a huge draw.
Columbia suit store dabbles in casual wear
An offshoot of Granger Owings will open across from the Main Street staple this fall, catering to second-generation customers who crave a more casual look.
The store, Circa 1332, aims to open Sept. 1, in time for students to return to classes at the University of South Carolina.
Renovations are being done by Granger Owings owner Vaughn Grangers sons, D.R. Granger, 26, and L.V. Granger, 29, as well as longtime employee and family friend Travis Hollis, 29 all of whom helped hatch the idea.
L.V. Granger said he hopes the store will give people a cool place to shop in Columbia reminiscent of what they might find in Charleston or Charlotte.
The aim, he said, is that it will appeal to the more conservative dresser who is used to wearing suits and ties during the week and wants to go casual on the weekend, but also to the artistic crowd as a place to put together a unique look.
The store also is another boost for Main Street, which has been in revival mode since landing a Mast General Store last year. The street, which city leaders struggled to redevelop for years, has begun attracting a range of retailers and rental apartments in recent months.
The timing was right for the Grangers, who are seeing a second-generation wave of customers now shopping in the 35-year-old store.
At Granger Owings, customers for decades have shopped for suits and accessories for special occasions or everyday office wear. And they are usually looking for help from a salesman to tie it all together, the owners said.
Were trying to capture a more casual side of that guy, said D.R. Granger. Its going to be a totally different experience for the consumer.
The store in the former Wish boutique, with windows along Main Street and an entrance just outside the Arcade will have a more laid back atmosphere and will be open only part of the week, leading up to the weekend.
At 900 square feet, it will be much smaller than the 6,000-square-foot Granger Owings. The store will carry distressed leather goods and enzyme-washed shirts and jeans, as well vintage bags, T-shirts, belts and some shoes. Like Granger Owings, the store at 1332 Main St. also will carry its own private label, clothes made in Portugal with material from a range of places, including Italy.
Matt Kennell, president of the City Center Partnership, which promotes business development in the downtown area, said the store is a perfect fit for Main Street.
It creates a really new kind of shopping experience, Kennell said. Its younger, its contemporary, but its very upscale. And thats what weve been targeting for Main Street. Thats exactly the kind of business that weve been trying to get.
Its just ideal.