Smashburger celebrated the grand opening of its first Queens location in Elmhurst on Wednesday, Sept. 15, attracting locals to the new eatery.
A steady stream of customers stood in line outside the Smashburger, located at 40-35 82nd St., to grab some food during their lunch break. The first 100 customers received a grab-bag with sunglasses, a pen and Smashburger’s special seasoning.
The opening special was the single classic with fries for $5.
Alida Espinoza, an Elmhurst resident, stood in line during her lunch break with her colleague. It was her first time eating at Smashburger, but is familiar with it through Instagram. She decided to grab lunch with a co-worker at the restaurant after passing it on her way to work.
Espinoza was told that Smashburger “is good food, just like Chik-fil-A.”
“We’ve been wanting to try different restaurants, trying something new that we haven’t had in the neighborhood. As you can see, everything is changing. This is one more opportunity to have a different choice,” Espinoza said.
After finishing her lunch, Espinoza and her co-worker appeared satisfied with the meal and said they enjoyed everything, “the chipotle sauce, the burger, the vegetables, everything.”
“The taste of it was right on point,” Espinoza said.
Andres Mondragon works across the street and noticed the grand opening. He decided to stop by for lunch because he heard “good things about Smashburger.”
Mondragon had no problem with the another chain opening in Elmhurst — Smashburger is wedged between Chik-fil-A and Chipotle. Months prior, a small group of residents protested the newly opened Chik-fil-A.
“I think it’s actually for the good,” Mondragon said. “Because, you know, it is bringing a lot of job opportunities for people.”
Kristina Gomez never heard of Smashburger before.
“This is my first time here, but it’s also kind of like a new burger spot. I know they’re probably going to be competition to Emoji Burger that’s not too far from here, so I guess I kind of have to pick,” Gomez said.
Smashburger incorporates features from the areas where they open restaurants to honor and be part of the neighborhood.
A mural on the wall at the Elmhurst location, painted by a graphic designer, features the Observation Towers of New York State Pavilion and the Unisphere.
Inside the restaurant, plenty of seating for indoor dining is available, with furniture styled in modern yet warm detail.
In one instance, Smashburger workers dumped fries that had been sitting under the heating lamp in the trash. When asked why, Clark Earthman, director of Operations at Smashburger, said that if the fries sit for longer than five minutes under the heating lamp, they get dumped because they aren’t considered “fresh” any longer.
The location in Elmhurst is corporate, with Earthman explaining that 50 percent of their locations are franchises and 50 percent are corporate.
The Elmhurst location employs 50 people, and everything is made fresh to order. The burgers are made of 100 percent Angus beef — fresh, not frozen.
“We make it right there for order as they come up,” Earthman said.
When asked what their quality secret is, he said, “It’s all in the smash and the seasoning.”