Sunday, August 15, 2010

Knitters at Smashburger!

A few weeks ago, I received this mysterious email via Urbanspoon Kalamazoo, a local restaurant review site where I occasionally post. The email was from Katie Hallin, of SmashVenture, inviting me to a "social media lunch" at the new Smashburger restaurant. It was a "soft opening", scheduled the day before Smashburger officially opened, designed to give the new staff some early practice.
Smashburger is the newest franchise restaurant in town, and is owned by Terry and Jean Henderson, longtime Kalamazoo restauranteurs. This Smashburger is the only one in Michigan, and the Hendersons are planning to expand in other Michigan locations.

After a few emails back and forth, I told them I was coming, with friends - knitting friends, all ready to test out the new menu and give their opinions.

Here we are, just before lunch arrives - Kay, Val, Karel, Becky and me.
(Note the knitting on the table!)

Five of us arrived, and after ordering, we took a look around. The restaurant isn't large, but still manages to handle a good-sized number of people. About 20 people were joining us for lunch initially, and others came a bit later. There's both booth and table seating. We happened to discover that the bench seating we were using needed a bit of adjustment - the one end kept sliding downwards, making for uncomfortable seating. We mentioned it to the staff, who quickly responded.

We also checked out the ladies room. It's clean, neat, spacious, functional.

Then we ordered. Amongst us, there were several who are diet-conscious, but Smashburger can handle it. Not only could we order salads as a main course, but some of us custom-ordered our sandwiches, picking and choosing ingredients that specifically suited our dietary requirements.

The sandwiches were rated well, with everyone liking their choices. One of the top-rated sandwiches was the Avocado Chicken Club sandwich, which included chicken you can have your chicken crispy or grilled. The apple-smoked bacon was generous, and added much flavor. Now if they could add just a teensy bit more avocado, it would be a perfect sandwich!

Friends Karel and Val testing the onion rings.

I ordered the sweet potato fries to share with the table, and they were fabulous. Not greasy at all, with good yammy flavor - I'll eat them anytime! On the other hand, the Haystack onion rings were nice, very thinly sliced and served with a dipping sauce, but a bit too salty.

For fun, we tried the fried pickles, and found them to be quite different - dill pickle slices deep fried, so definitely not diet food, but very tasty. I probably won't order a whole order again - the serving was very generous, but if they add a smaller portion serving, I can be tempted.

Although they weren't ready to offer full servings of their shakes, several of us tried the test portions of Smashburger's Michigan cherry shake. We all gave that one two thumbs up. Great cherry flavor, very natural tasting (unlike some restaurants that use a cherry syrup flavor that is artificial tasting). That's going to be on my list for my next trip.

Smashburger owners Jean and Terry Henderson, with Marketing Manager Katie Hallin.

Thanks, Smashburger, for inviting us - you've found five new customers, and there's more knitters from where we came from!

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