Former scaffolder proves a hit with Seaham's first dedicated smash burger business

A former scaffolder has turned his hand to constructing burgers – and he’s proved a smash hit.

Friday, 1st April 2022, 12:10 pm

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Ash Gutsell has been in the building industry for the past 10 years but has long harboured dreams of starting his own food venture. Passionate about burgers, he began perfecting his technique and making them for friends and family.

A regular to the Slice Seaham business in Church Street, he was offered a pop up at their hatch, which has proved so successful he’s sold almost 2,000 burgers in five weeks.

Ash, from Seaham Harbour, says he’s been overwhelmed by the positive response.

Sm'ash burger runs a weekly pop up at Slice Seaham in Church Street

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"I’ve not had one bad response so far, people are saying they’re better than Five Guys,” he said.

The pop up has been such a hit that Sm’ash Burger runs as a pop up at the hatch on Mondays and Tuesdays from noon until 5pm and Wednesday and Thursday 5pm-9pm.

Fans of Slice Seaham’s New York-style pizzas needn’t worry as they’re still available from the hatch on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11.30am-2.30pm, Friday and Saturdays noon until 8pm and Sunday from noon until 6pm.

Ash said it’s great to have a fellow local business be so supportive of his new venture, which is a total career change.

Brothers Ash (left) and Jason Gutsell. Picture by FRANK REID

"I’ve been coming here since they opened as I love their pizza,” he said. “This has been a risk and something completely new, but my partner and friends and family told me to go for it.

"Being able to use an existing kitchen has been fantastic as it’s saved me the set-up costs and given me the opportunity to see if this can work.”

Andy Smith who owns the building, which features Slice, the Coalface pub and an air B’n’B, with business partner Mark Milroy, said: “Ash is a good local lad with a good following and business idea, so it’s great to be able to support him and give him an opportunity.”

Ash uses popular butcher, and Seaham institution, Angus’, for his burgers. He rolls the mince into meatballs before smashing them with a burger press to form a thin patty with a crust on the outside which holds the juice and flavour, a type of burger particularly popular in America.

One of the specials from Sm'ash Seaham

Although other businesses offer burgers in the town, such as Bulan Burger in the Marina, Sm’ash is the only place in the area specialising in smash burgers.

Currently Ash offers three varieties, all served in a brioche bun rolled in butter, with plans to expand the range in the future.

In the meantime, you can take a bite out of the Double Bacon Baddy, a double patty burger served with bacon, cheese and crispy onions, and fries for £8; a Plain Jane double cheeseburger with fries for £7 or a classic Sm’ash burger on its own for £3.50. A range of dips are also available including a top secret SR7 sauce.

There are also plans to start a Burger and Beer night in the adjoining Coalface pub so that people can enjoy a sit-in Sm’ash.

Brothers Ash (left) and Jason Gutsell. Ash's pop up is proving popular, with 2,000 burgers sold in 5 weeks,

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