The chain’s plan for world domination
Educating the customer on how CaliBurger differs from, say, McDonald's, in speed is a piece of the puzzle that Kassamali admits he neglected. He hopes that with his next store, he'll improve that: he plans to open 20 to 25 stores in the greater Seattle area in the next five to six years.
Globally, Miller says the chain plans to be 50 locations strong by the end of 2016, which includes a daring February opening in Pasadena, on In-N-Out's home turf. Discussing how CaliBurger plans to compete, he shies away from challenging the burger that inspired it all, discouraging comparison. "We're a tech company with great food." The Los Angeles area stores (a Beverly Hills location will follow) feature interactive video walls, a mobile app (without a reservation made through it, diners will be unable to enter the Pasadena location at launch), and a trivia game with loyalty elements showing off the brand's global reach.
In the next five years, Miller hopes the brand expands to hundreds of locations, but he'll always be grateful to the Seattle one. The strong showing here gives the chain hope for the five more US stores already under construction. "Before Seattle opened, everyone was bullish on international opportunities," Kassamali beams with pride in his success. "Seattle proved the concept and showed opportunity, so the company shifted to the U.S. market."
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Naomi Tomky actually thinks that Smashburger does a better burger than either In-N-Out or CaliBurger. Argue with her about this on Twitter @Gastrognome and Instagram @the_gastrognome.