Smashburger wants to be ‘Starbucks of burgers’

Smashburger wants to be 'Starbucks of burgers'

When your name is Smashburger, you’d better have a pretty nifty game plan to compete with McDonald’s.

This is one of the toughest challenges that many small, young companies face: How to compete with the goliaths? It involves much more than just being nimble. In the case of 6-year-old Smashburger, a Denver-based better-burger chain that also competes with fast-casual rivals Panera Bread and Chipotle, it’s really about having a gee-whiz way of doing business that helps it stand out.

USA TODAY recently spent a hectic lunch hour with CEO David Prokupek, 50, at a Smashburger in Fairfax, Va. He explained how and why he believes the chain, which has opened 200 stores in five years with sales of $250 million, can within five years become a 1,000-unit chain with sales of $1 billion.

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