Eating food at the Johns Creek Smashburger is a kind of Russian Roulette. You pay your money and you take your chances. I saw plenty of happy people there on the day we arrived, a store dealing with a restaurant perhaps 70 to 80% full. If, on the other hand, they manage to mess up your order, you end up in a kind of living hell, because this restaurant currently lacks the people skills to overcome multiple staff mistakes.

That’s a little unfortunate, as the menu is dynamic and versatile and very diabetic friendly. That versatility is one reason that we went back to Smashburger as my wife spied it on the way home. Further, glowing reviews, such as the one Grant Goggans gave here, led me to believe this place was a step above most fast food fare and comparable to a poor man’s Farm Burger.

No, unfortunately, what we experienced is a version of the classic bad fast food experience, with all the problems and mistakes one comes to expect of bad fast food restaurants. I’ll simply quote what I recently posted on Urbanspoon.

The manager of this restaurant took the order and he messed it up in multiple ways. The food in the ticket delivered to his staff was not the food delivered to our table. When my wife went to ask for the things that were forgotten, she was asked to stand in line once again, a rather long one. 20 minutes after she made her second order, my daughter asked, “Isn’t the guy who was standing behind you now eating?” 10 minutes after that, my wife went up to ask what happened to her order, and they ignored her one more time.

At that point we left.

This was the worst customer experience I’ve suffered in the ATL since I began food blogging over 3 years ago.

The food? Decent, though really the burgers here show none of the verve or skill that impressed food bloggers in the Piedmont or the Kennesaw locations. When Erion, a blogger on Urbanspoon, said of the meal:

If McDonald’s is your standard for burgers then this place is an upgrade for you …slightly though.

at this point I can only agree. The lack of skill at this location is telling.

Caesar salad. Tomatoes struck me as a little odd, but they’re listed as part of the online menu. The mixture of greens is also off putting. IMO, they should simplify this salad to classic caesar ingredients. Tastes fine, though.

Spicy Baja burger and veggie fries. The veggie fries were a little oily, but the kind of thing that could make this chain useful to diabetics. Certainly, it’s a superior side to the classic french fry. The burger was decent, not really impressive.

My daughter’s BBQ burger and fries. We found the sauce too sweet. And for want of some fries, our patronage was lost.

The burgers weren’t the highlights of our meal. My wife regarded her chicken as good. My daughter had a disagreement with the sauce on her barbecue burger, but otherwise the ingredients weren’t bad. The best thing about the meal were the oversized $4.99 salads, which had plenty of greens and were served in enormous bowls.

The fries – my daughter actually received hers – had a mixed reception. She didn’t like them much, I thought they were a fine enough version of the thin fry.

The burgers? I’m on record as thinking smashing a burger is a bad idea, but the crusty juicy meat has no complaints on my┬ápart. I found the buns to be a little limp, a little unimpressive. In fact this “meh” reaction to the burgers and meat here seems a theme that’s being repeated. Let’s quote a Yelper this time, Vania H:

i had my first smashburger experience when i visited charlotte, nc for the weekend – and either i was STARVING, or it really was one of the best burgers i’d ever had. upon hearing that smashburger was opening up in johns creek, i got really excited!…until i actually ate here.

i came here with a friend for dinner one evening, the first thing i noticed when i came in was that the restaurant was FREEZING. it was very uncomfortable to even sit inside, so luckily there was patio seating outside. when we went up to the counter to order, we were greeted by a very unenthusiastic cashier who didn’t really know the menu (or the cash register) that well, and ordering our food took a very long time. i created my own burger, and the portion was extremely small and not very filling. i ordered the regular fries, which were bland, limp, and cold. my friend ordered the smashfries, which supposedly had rosemary, olive oil, and garlic – but just tasted exactly like my regular fries, with a few sprigs of rosemary tossed on the top. disappointing.

but like all hopeful foodies, i came back here once more with another friend, hoping that i just had one bad experience, and that smashburger wasn’t really that bad. nope.

probably won’t be coming back here again.

In short, I don’t think the chain is a bust, but I do believe this location is a misheard order away from becoming a food disaster. Staff are well meaning I believe, but incompetent when it comes to service. How much do fries cost Smashburger? Ten cents of potato, perhaps? How big a loss would it have been to have just comped my wife’s fries when they were found to be missing? The notion that you can do these kinds of things and please customers is exactly what’s missing at this Smashburger.

If I may be allowed an entirely politically incorrect notion, I’ll note that this store is just across the road from a Tilted Kilt. This class of restaurant, including the better known Hooters, are places where service is everything. Without waitresses that can serve and charm, there is no business model for these eateries. So, in a fantasy world where I would be king for a day, I’d fire the entire staff of this Smashburger and replace the manager with a Tilted Kilt bartender. Whether that person could run the restaurant, I do not know, but that person would have forgotten more about customer service than this staff currently displays.

Smashburger
9775 Medlock Bridge Road
Johns Creek GA 30097
(770) 497-6274

Smashburger on Urbanspoon

About these ads