BY KATE BUNSTER
What’s that smell?
If you frequent the ShopRite plaza, you may have noticed — or caught a whiff — of the new Smashburger nestled into the Balltown Road side of the shopping strip. The burger joint opened its doors to the public Wednesday.Now the closest fast-food restaurant to Niskayuna High School, the location is likely to do very well, predicts Marc Goldstein, director of real estate at Columbia Development Companies.
Goldstein, along with his business partner Leo Butera, are the local franchise owners of Smashburger in the Capital Region and Vermont. The Niskayuna location is the third Smashburger in the area; the others are on Marion Avenue in Saratoga Springs and Wolf Road in Colonie. The two plan to open a fourth in Clifton Park sometime next year.
“We are extremely optimistic based on reports from people saying how glad they are to see that spot fi lled,” said Goldstein. Smashburger is not only providing students with a new place to go for lunch, but also helping them out fi nancially. According to Goldstein, the addition of Smashburger has provided 30 high school students with jobs.
“The store came out great and I am thrilled with the employees,” he continued. “I was worried that the work ethic was lost, but apparently it’s right here in Niskayuna.” That work ethic could be seen on opening day.
The cooks smiled in the back as they flipped their burgers and kept up with orders coming in. Cashiers greeted diners with a smile. Smashburger also offers the option of ordering online, according to Goldstein.
The menu ranges from the classic burger to chicken and veggie burgers to full lunch and dinner meals. Smashburger also makes handspun Haagen-Dazs milkshakes.
Inland Mortgage Capital, a private lender based in Illinois, owns a portion of the ShopRite Plaza. It has been behind the improvements there and the demolition of the abandoned Friendly’s building in March 2013. The addition of Smashburger and the impending arrival of Dollar Tree will bring the plaza occupancy to 80 percent, according to a news release.
“The center has been through a lot and I would like to believe we have had a lot to do with that,” said Art Rendak, president at Inland Mortgage Capital.
Goldstein said he frequently shops at the Niskayuna ShopRite and was passing by one day when it occurred to him that the plaza was the perfect place to open his third Smashburger franchise.
“Sometimes you don’t always see the things that are right in front of you,” he said.