The first new business in the former Borders in the heart of downtown La Grange (Hillgrove Avenue and La Grange Road) will be the 11th Chicagoland location of the Smashburger restaurant chain, slated to open later in November.
Founded in 2007 by fast-food chain veteran Tom Ryan, Smashburger has quickly grown to 178 locations nationwide. Its name refers to its burger-cooking style: dropping never-frozen beef meatballs onto a flat grill, then using a specialized tool to “smash” the meat into a patty, a process that the restaurant says lets the meat retain its juices and promotes a more evenly-cooked and better-tasting burger.
“We find that [La Grange] has got a great demographic population; it’s got a mix of residential as well as business,” said Smashburger spokeswoman Stacie Lange. “People love burgers, and they need a better burger restaurant like Smashburger in La Grange.”
The chain offers varying sizes of burger for varying sizes of appetite, on five different types of buns. It rounds out its menu with grilled and crispy chicken, salads, veggie burgers and hot dogs, along with unique sides like oil-and-rosemary-garnished fries, fried pickles, sweet-potato fries and very lightly crisped carrots and green beans. (Check out the Elmhurst location’s menu here.)
Some of its offerings are region-specific; for instance, Chicagoland stops get the option of a pretzel-roll bun, the Windy City burger with cheddar, onions, lettuce, tomato and mustard, and Goose Island on the beer list.
Yes, they also have a beer list.
“The alcohol allows us to be appropriate for a variety of occasions,” Lange said. “People who are looking for just a quick bite to eat at lunch, they can come in and get exactly that; people who are looking to, say, celebrate a guys’ night out or a girls’ night out or a big win after a game, we offer ourselves to that occasion as well.”
The restaurant will take up about 2,000 sq. ft. of the former Borders and have eat-in seating for 60.
Borders vacated the property after the chain declared bankruptcy in 2011.