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Ex-McD franchisee Kruger signs on with Smashburger

Irwin Kruger, a longtime McDonald's franchisee in New York City who left the system earlier this year, said Wednesday he has inked a deal with fast-casual burger brand Smashburger.

A McDonald's franchisee for 42 years, Kruger said his company, ISK Systems LLC, would open its first Smashburger restaurant later this year on New York's Long Island, thus establishing the Denver-based brand's presence in the New York area. He said he plans to open 20 stores in the area eventually.

Kruger sold his four New York McDonald's locations -- which included the high-grossing, 17,000-square-foot unit in Manhattan's Times Square area -- back to the Oak Brook, Ill.-based franchisor last February. He said under the terms of his noncompete agreement with McDonald's he is restricted from opening a Smashburger restaurant within a 10-mile radius of his former restaurants for the next 16 months. As a result, he plans to focus on Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties for the near term.

"At this point, we're looking at Long Island, and as time goes on I'm sure I'll be expanding to other parts of the tri-state area," Kruger said. "After having sold my McDonald's restaurants and being restricted to a 10-mile area, Nassau and Suffolk counties seemed like logical choices."

Kruger said he was excited about becoming a Smashburger franchisee.

"I love the food; this is a great menu," he said. "The hamburgers are great, prepared in their unique way with great toppings on three types of buns, and there are great salads, a wonderful kids' menu and hot dogs. The menu really reflects what consumers are looking for in the category of better burgers."

He said the move to Smashburger would be a financially beneficial one, too. "I'm really thrilled," he said. "This is a cool concept, and the food is spectacular. I feel like a kid in a candy store. I think I'm making a great investment in this company."

Smashburger officials said the deal with Kruger would bring the number of locations at the end of 2010 to 100.

Contact Elissa Elan at [email protected].

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