Restaurant News & Reviews

Popular gourmet burger chain forced out of Lexington; last location closes

Smashburger, which featured burgers “smash” cooked on a hot flat-top, has closed its last Lexington location.
Smashburger, which featured burgers “smash” cooked on a hot flat-top, has closed its last Lexington location. Provided photo

Is Lexington over burgered? One popular chain apparently has been forced out entirely.

Lexington’s last Smashburger has closed its location on Nicholasville Road near Fayette Mall. The restaurant’s Facebook page lists it as “permanently closed” and the company’s website says it has no locations in Lexington.

It follows the closing of the one in the CenterCourt condo building on South Upper in July 2017; the 3695 Nicholasville Road location closed over the weekend.

Smashburger has closed its last Lexington location, the one near Fayette Mall at 3695 Nicholasville Road. The chain opened its first location in 2010 in CenterCourt. Charles Bertram

The gourmet burger chain came to town in April 2010, and was supposed to be the first of six locations in town. One was announced for the Nicholasville Road spot by Fayette Mall and one for a new location near Walmart on Richmond Road.

The local franchise was owned by Bluegrass Burgers partners Bill Lear, Jim Phelps and Wayne Wellman, who also built the Center Court condo-retail development where the first restaurant was located.

Nationally, Smashburger has grown to more than 370 locations in 37 states and nine countries. Founded in Denver in 2007, Philippine-based Jollibee Foods became the majority owner of the chain this year, with an 85 percent stake.

In 2017, a poll rated Smashburger the number 9 burger restaurant in the country, behind Five Guys, In-N-Out, Shake Shack, Wendy’s, Culver’s, Whataburger, McDonald’s and Sonic.

In Lexington, burger competition is intense, with the state’s only Shake Shack, multiple Five Guys spots and several regional and locally owned burger joints. The annual Lexington Burger Week, put on by Smiley Pete in July, had more than 40 participants this year.

Herald-Leader sports writers Jerry Tipton and John Clay visit Campus Pub off of Waller Avenue to try their Burger Week $5 special Jamal Burger and talk about the UK mens basketball player Jamal Mashburn. And LexGo Eat team member Janet Patton join