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Smashburger to Open in Downtown Novato

Denver-based chain has about 200 locations.

Downtown Novato is getting a new burger joint.

Smashburger, a Denver-based chain, has signed a lease to open a location at 7370 Redwood Blvd., a half block from Grant Avenue and a half block from De Long Avenue. The restaurant will occupy a spot in a new building that replaced the old Denny's location and Mills Restaurant between a Shell gas station and a McDonald's restaurant.

The chain will open in a 2,335-square-foot spot next to . A Smashburger publicist said the restaurant would open in the late spring or early summer.

"I have heard great things about them ... people speak highly of them," said Darren Pomponio, president of the Downtown Novato Business Association. "Anything that brings new energy to downtown is great."

According to its website, Smashburger is "a place with a burger soul." The burgers are seasoned Angus beef served on artisan buns with fresh produce. The company also serves chicken sandwiches, salads, fries, veggie frites, haystack onions, milkshakes made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream and bottled beer and wine.

"The way we look at it, it's a broader menu and we expect it to be appealing for downtown business workers and Novato families," said Thad Logan of RetailWest commercial real estate agency, which handled the lease. "It's quick service, but it's more like a restaurant than like fast food."

Smasburger, established in 2007, has about 200 locations.

“We started this concept about five years ago with the intention of changing the way people thought about burgers," CEO and Chairman David Prokupek, said on the Smashburger website. "We wanted to offer food and an atmosphere that was modern, exciting and much different from the quick-service burger restaurants that consumers now find tiring."

Logan said the outdoor patio area on the sidewalk along Redwood Boulevard will be an attractive option for diners there.

Parking options in the downtown area have been a widespread concern as the new building made its debut. Logan said Peet's attracts and early-day crowd while Smashburger would attract more of a late-day crowd. Another new building is being finished up about 75 yards to the north; Umpqua Bank Plaza at the corner of Grant and Redwood won't have much parking once it is opened.

"We think that area is pretty pedestrian friendly," Logan said. "A lot of their business will be from foot traffic."

Logan said the largest parcel inside the new building at 7330 Redwood — 3,880 square feet — is still available for lease.

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T. Allen February 05, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Seems like direct competition for new In and Out Burger joint going into Rowland Plaza! Hope they both make it. Bout time Novato's downtown got some new excitement, it is on life support now. We need mixed use buildings downtown so there are more people living and walking around there. As of now it is deserted after 5 pm.
T.Sprocket February 05, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Has anyone else had difficulty finding parking downtown at lunch or dinner? After circling Grant, Machin, Reichert, Delong, Sherman three times I had to park near Chianti on Vallejo twice last week. That is 1/3 of a mile from the Sherman/Grant intersection where Grazie is. This parking problem is already deterrent to visiting downtown Novato. How will the Umpqua project, the Peet's/Chipotle,Smashburger spot, and the city hall project further impact parking? Fyi here is the mapquest link showing the distance of my walk with my 75 yr old guest: http://www.mapquest.com/directions
Marina Nims February 05, 2013 at 04:09 PM
I have experienced a shortage of parking as well. Peet's parking lot is already full much of the time, even with empty stores around it. I am happy to see more businesses come onto that block, but parking will be even more scarce. Access is a problem as well: traveling south on Redwood it is a multi-turn, multi-directional project to get to Peet's. Too bad there is no u-turn allowed on Redwood at DeLong. And to get really nit-picky: when turning into Peet's parking lot from Redwood, there is a curb bump-out so one cannot pull out of traffic to make the turn, so if another car is pulling out of that narrow driveway, and one has to wait to make their turn, one's car blocks the right lane of Redwood, kind of like a rear-end magnet. I am not a traffic planner, but the obstacles are many and the flow is bad in this congested area. Lastly, because this is Northern California, I should add that it is too bad that Smashburger does not have any commitment to humanely raised meat or organic produce, which would separate it even more from the neighboring McDonald's. =)
Mark Burnham February 05, 2013 at 04:09 PM
umm, yes. the parking problem is huge and only going to get worse. consider the following: umpqua bank project: 21 total parking spaces 50 bank employees umpqua retail branch 20+ customers per hour? 7,500 sf of retail/restaurant space. 20 employees per hour. 400 customers daily? how this will affect parking? 100+ spaces needed per business hour city hall project: 56 parking spaces 60 city employees (they anticipate 71 eventually) 30 total daily visitors how will this affect parking? 10+ additional spaces needed during business hours chipotle, peet’s, smashmouth, 1 more vacant space project: 35 Parking spaces 30 employees 500 daily visitors?? how will this affect parking? 50+ parking spaces needed during business hours the novato theatre project 2 total parking spots two screen with 300+ seats how will this affect parking? huge effect on evening parking 7 nights per week parking is tough now during peak hours downtown. the word is that many potential customers are fed up with driving around (like you sprocket), imagine when these other projects come online.
To momma February 05, 2013 at 05:08 PM
I've eaten at a Smashburger in Denver. I was so impressed with the quality of the food i spoke with the manager about the franchise. I've never understood the obsession with In & Out.. Parking will be a big problem!
dave February 05, 2013 at 05:22 PM
This is great news!!! It's about time Novato got a decent burger place. I can't believe the health department allows Phyllis Giant Burger to stay in business, that place is disgusting. So best of luck Smash Burger!!!!
Eileen Plunkett February 05, 2013 at 05:31 PM
So what happened to the so called "upscale" restaurant which was to replace Mills? Another burger joint is hardly what is needed. I have been to Grazie at about 11am the past two weeks and parked almost right at the door.....I know parking is bad on Grant Ave but why not utilize Whole Foods parking lot and walk a bit?
Ventress Dugan February 05, 2013 at 06:28 PM
I am thrilled by the addition to Novato! I don't mind walking my lunch off going to my car. I always park my car further out in the malls...great exercise and less dings on the door.
Angela P. February 05, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Looking forward to it..but wish we could get a nice steak place. Not feeling Boca's at all!
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) February 05, 2013 at 07:13 PM
The so-called upscale restaurant was never planned in that building where Peet's is now. It was planned for the first floor of the Umpqua Bank Plaza at 999 Grant. No leases have been signed there as far as I know.
Stacey Egide February 05, 2013 at 07:40 PM
The driveway entrance between the Shell station and Chipolte, is narrow and filled with pot holes. Why hasnt the City required this be repaired and maintained by the businesses that share the easement?
Dave Robertson February 05, 2013 at 08:05 PM
Upscale restaurants generally have a low survival rate - especially in Marin. It's a very expensive and competitive business - and today's economic climate isn't encouraging it either. But it's unfortunate that Novato has only "mid" scale or lower restaurants. If you want to go to a fine dinner with your "S.O.", family, or friends - it's a (sometimes short-lived) place in "lower Marin" or the city. I guess I was spoiled living many years in the Peninsula/South Bay where you can pick from lots of choices in any category.
Baxter February 05, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Never heard of Smashburger, but it sounds great. Good location off of Redwood Blvd. No competition for Inn & Out because so much of their traffic is from off-the-freeway passerbys and drive throughs. Both burger places should do well. As for extra parking, rumor is that the old Pini Hardware Building on Grant can't be leased out because the building would literally need to be gutted to bring up to code. Why not tear it down and put in a two-story parking garage like on 4th St. in San Rafael behind Joe's restaurant. Put in parking meters and let the city of Novato reap the benefits. This parking garage would be close to shops, restaurants, services, City Hall and the bus pad.
JBW February 05, 2013 at 09:25 PM
I have to agree with Baxter on all points, particularly the parking. And as a couple of other posted noted Novato is missing a moderately priced steakhouse. Not that I am a huge fan of chains but Outback and other similar restaurants offer steak diners at $14-$22 per meal. Boca, on the other hand starts at $24 and goes over $30 per meal. Also, I have had more average meals at Boca than great.
Kevin February 05, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Really? That is the best restaurant in Novato!
Kevin February 05, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Ohhh dude, Outback is Awful! Please do not bring that crap into Novato. Go to Marin City, thats close enough!
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) February 05, 2013 at 11:29 PM
I'm trying to stay away from all fast foods, even designer varieties, but it's great to have choices so that people don't have to leave town.
dave February 06, 2013 at 01:24 AM
I am with Angela, Boccas is too hit and miss. The problem with Novato over the years is nothing good lasts! We can go back to the days of Santa Fe Mary's on Grant which then turned into Cacti. Cattlemens though not your ideal steakhouse was good enough for a decent steak on most nights and that was on Redwood blvd for what 2 years before they closed? Downtown Novato not Ignacio needs a really decent steak house, not to pricey but good enough to suit us all and stick around a nice long time...
Marina Nims February 06, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Brent: maybe if this venture is successful we can lure Amy's down here ;-) http://rohnertpark-cotati.patch.com/articles/amy-s-kitchen-opening-fast-food-restaurant-drive-thru-in-rohnert-park
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) February 06, 2013 at 03:12 AM
Never heard of it! You know, I'm pretty loyal to my locally owned favorites.
Steve B February 06, 2013 at 02:47 PM
I do not allow my kids to eat at Phyliss' because every time we went, something BAD was going on. The catsup was fermenting, the tables filthy, too many homeless from the creek hanging out, the cuts in the seats so wide... What the heck happens/ doesn't happen there! Anyhow, this Smashburger sounds a step up from them and In n Out, and a few steps below Finn's, so it will be nice to have the variety. The city needs to level something though and put in a parking lot... I have had to abandon trips to downtown before for somewhere with parking.
Steve B February 06, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Totally. The powers that be need to stop thinking "more businesses=more tax revenue" and start thinking "more successful businesses = more tax revenue." Put in some dang parking, it can look nice if there are lots of trees.
Lou Judson February 08, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Yes! Parking at Pini's. What an eysore that old place is. Nic eot see there are better city planner on Patch than the city employees. I'm glad I live closer to In&Out then smash. Bad name, smashburger, far as I see it, ugly mental image.
Dave May 16, 2013 at 08:39 PM
I went to Smashburger today for their opening and I was not impressed at all. The fries are like matchsticks. The burger is typical mall food style. So I won't be going there much at all, when there is already better to be had in town.

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