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Smash Burger flips onto Green Bay’s burger scene

By Josh Koerner

Ready to be eaten: Smash Burger soon descends on the Green Bay food scene. Josh Koerner photo

Great news for regulars to Broadway’s street food scene. Chef Cole Ductan, owner and operator of the hit local food truck, Bay Area Burger Co. (BABC) is finally putting down some roots.

The new restaurant, Smash Burger is slated to open on Broadway in the former Monzu Bakery location. For weeks, the location’s windows have been plastered with BABC’s logo along with the phrase “Coming Soon,” a QR code that links to its home page and the simple hashtag “#getsmashed.”

Ductan introduced the smash burger to Green Bay for the first time as a special at the Green Bay Country Club back while employed there. As he watched orders pour in, he realized he had something tasty to share with the city.

Ductan was first introduced to smash burgers in a Minneapolis speakeasy called “The Parlor” in 2016. He instantly fell in love with the dish filled with flavor in a small, simple package.

“The brioche bun was actually what wowed me,” Ductan said, “It was the perfect vehicle.”

For its brick-and-mortar establishment, Bay Area Burger Co. plans to expand its menu a bit. It will feature the classic burger and fries that have made them famous. However, for those looking to broaden their horizons, smash burger will also offer a fried chicken sandwich and a deluxe grilled cheese sandwich, which will be topped the same as the burgers.

Despite the hardships of pandemic construction, Ductan said he is optimistic they should be able to open their doors sometime in March.

Ductan admits that his new restaurant, like his food truck, is a stepping stone for his future culinary exploits. As much as he loves his truck and the community, he said it’s helped him build, and he said he feels he has already perfected his burgers.

“I miss real cooking sometimes,” Ductan said. “I want to do something challenging.”

Desire for a greater challenge seems to be a common theme throughout his life. He said fascination for cooking began in his early teens.

“For Christmas back then, most kids were asking for things like music and video games,” Ductan said. “All I wanted for Christmas was a non-stick pan and rotisserie accessories.”

Ductan said his biological father abandoned his family when he was two. Seeing Ductan’s interest in cooking grow, his mother said she could not help but compare him to the chef she had once known. That was the moment he said he realized cooking was in his blood.

Seeking to further his craft, Ductan attended the Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute of Minneapolis. He said the highlight of the course for him was an externship through Disney. He said he eventually invited to rub elbows with the culinary elite at Epcot’s Annual Food and Wine Festival; a rare opportunity for chefs in Disney’s program. He said he left with job offers from a number of celebrity kitchens. In the end, Robert Irvine’s Kitchen would be Ductan’s final choice to work under Irvine’s head chef, Lee Lucier.

Ductan said Lucier would go on to be one of his most valued mentors. From Lucier, he said he learned restaurant management techniques that went well beyond cooking most notably: managing and maintaining a kitchen where customers demand perfection. Ductan said he found his passion for cooking reignited under Lucier. He said he wanted to know the restaurant business “from the front of the house to the books.”

Ductan said Smash Burger is the first of several building-blocks to bring Bay Area Burger Co. come to fruition, but it would not be the last. Ductan said he will continue to look up to successful head chefs, integrating the lessons of their kitchens into his own food philosophy.

For more information about Smash Burger, check out Bay Area Burger Company’s website, bayareaburger.com or their Facebook page.

Josh Koerner grew up in De Pere and has a passion for local food. To know more about his passion for food you can check out his Facebook Page, Josh Eats Green Bay

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