Denver-based Smashburger and Ft Collins-based New Belgium Brewing kick-off a new burger and beer pairing menu today at both the Tabor Center (Denver) and Ft. Collins Smashburger locations, with plans to expand the program nationally and possibly, worldwide. The two companies have been through rigorous tastings to find perfect matches, making this "the first time fast-casual fare has been carefully paired with beverages," says Smashburger's founder and chief concept officer Tom Ryan. For instance, Smashburger's Spicy Baja burger is now suggested to go with New Belgium's Sunshine Wheat because of how the beer's coriander notes (cilantro seeds) complement the burger's Mexican heat. New Belgium is the first brewery to be paired on Colorado Smashburger menus, although Smashburger will implement the same program with local breweries in other markets.
While Ryan is very involved in Smashburger's evolution and growth, he's also one of the chief concept developers for Tom's Urban 24, a new 24-hour concept debuting this October on Larimer Square. Here now, a Q&A with Ryan about the restaurant's vibe and recent name change.
The concept has been a bit mysterious. What's the story? TR: We kind of studied things pretty intensely, so right up until the end of August, we were still kind of morphing some things. As a correction, we're not a diner. Originally we thought that might be a really good handle, but then we did our research and people said, 'Look, I like diners, but you know what, I expect a $3.99 breakfast and I don't want to hang out and drink at a diner.' I want you to spend $10 on breakfast, and I want you to hang out and drink, so I think I'll put a bullet in the diner thing. That's why it went away. Now it's just Tom's Urban 24 — it's 24 hours, and it's modern comfort food with an urban twist. Relatively lower price points and really high-quality food with a rockin' bar and great location.
So what's the decor like? TR: [It's] Funky and comfortable — and local. It's kind of hard to describe decor, but [it will have] wood floors, exposed brick and granite on the inside, original pillars. And then the dominate colors are a bright turquoise and taupe. We have really nice seating that padded with a carmel-orange color with a grayish-taupe. Cool lights — right over all the boothing on the first floor there's like 20 globe lights, all at different levels, and they're clear amber and blue, so you kind of get this really great mosaic. We're merchandising all of our alcohol for the bar in back-lit metal boxes, so you get a little bit of a Bud Light effect with glowing warm colors. It's really kind of bright and open during the day time, and kind of sexy and orange and glowing at night.
Word has it Tom's will feature a grab-and-go counter. True? TR Yes, it's actually for the part of our menu that's meant to be eaten on the go, so it's urban food for on-the-go — house-made pop tarts, house-made doughnuts, yogurt parfaits, oatmeals, juices, etc. It's not a 'to-go' window, it's really for food on-the-go. You can eat while you're walking.
Stay tuned for more plywood updates as the opening of Tom's Urban 24 nears.