Furthering its diversification efforts, the Mohegan Tribe is entering another franchise agreement with a burger chain, this time with Denver-based Smashburger. The tribe will open up 16 locations throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
"After almost two years of careful diligence on diversification opportunities for the Tribe, we have been able to see the results of our efforts with the addition of the Smashburger franchise to our group of new companies," Kevin Brown "Red Eagle," chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said. "We chose this brand because of its superior product offering and its reputation as one of the fastest growing and most successful franchises in the United States."
Beyond its creative, handcrafted burgers—"smashed, seasoned and seared to order", Smashburger is known for its hand-spun milkshakes and fries. It also serves sandwiches and salads.
This is the tribe's third business move in 2014, following another agreement with Arooga's Franchising, LP to open and run 15 Arooga's Grille House and Sports Bar restaurants in New England. The first Arooga’s in the northeast will be housed at Mohegan Sun and will span 9,000 square feet, offering a large outdoor deck for dining and firepits for social gatherings. The sports bar's 100 big screen televisions and 40 domestic and craft beers on draft are anticipated to draw crowds.
A tribal subsidiary Northeast Wood Products, LLC also recently purchased a wood pellet production plant in Peebles, Ohio, from the Pennington Seed Company, and announced its plans to purchase another Pennington pellet production operation in Ligonier, Indiana.
“With the purchase of Pennington’s production assets, we are jump-starting our entry into the wood pellet fuel market,” said Guy Mozzicato, president of Northeast Wood Products.
The company’s primary product will be sold under the trade name ThermaGlo, a premium certified wood fiber pellets, available in 40 lb and 15 kg bags for home use, in bulk loads for industrial customers, and in container shipments for international markets. “ThermaGlo will meet or exceed both PFI & ENplus A1 certifications, the most stringent in the industry,” said Michael Reid, senior vice president of business development for Northeast Wood Products.
Northeast Wood Products is expected to produce over 130,000 tons annually from its Ohio and Indiana facilities, which will be in full production within the next 120 days. The company is actively investigating other opportunities consistent with its plans to establish a national and international footprint in the industry.