Ashman’s Smash Burgers & Fries: From a mobile marvel to a brick-and-mortar gem

Aron Ashman and Mandy Mullen share secrets to their sizzling business success in Nelson

by Danielle Brost
The owners of Ashman's Smash Burgers & Fries

Aron Ashman and Mandy Mullen knew to go with the flow and adapt their business when opportunity knocked. — Starra Photography photo

We had the opportunity to step into the flavourful world of Ashman's Smash Burgers & Fries, a bustling eatery in Nelson, B.C. Fresh off their well-deserved win of the Rising Star Award, owners Aron Ashman and Mandy Mullen were happy to chat with us about the road it took to get here. From the inspiration driving their culinary creations to the hurdles they've overcome in transitioning their venture from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar establishment, Aron and Mandy recounted their tale with candor and enthusiasm. 

Congrats on winning the Rising Star Award! What does the win mean to you, and how has it impacted your business?

It was amazing to win the Rising Star Award last year. We were actually in Florida when we got the call and were unable to attend to receive the trophy, but it was a great surprise and honour to be recognized by our community and Chamber of Commerce. It felt like all of our hard work finally paid off. We’re always excited to see new restaurants and businesses opening in Nelson, so we’re looking forward to seeing who this year’s Rising Star is!

What inspired you to focus on smash burgers as a central offering in your menu?

We have so many amazing restaurants in Nelson. People need variety and part of that variety is having a handful of good local grab and go options. When we moved here, there was a gap in that market for simple, fast and affordable burgers and fries…that's where we fit in!

What are some of the challenges you've encountered along the way, and how have you handled them?

COVID-19 was obviously challenging for us because we were trying to open up in the midst of it, but we’ve luckily made it through that. We still find it challenging to find employees that want to work hard and stay more than six months, but right now we have an amazing crew and feel very lucky to have them.

- Starra Photography photo

What made you decide to move from a mobile location to a brick-and-mortar restaurant?

We weren’t ever thinking of having a brick-and-mortar location. The dream was that we would work in the food truck for six to eight months a year and travel the rest of the time. And then this location became available and changed all of those plans. It is a perfect location for Ashman’s Burgers, so we couldn’t pass it up. We aren’t travelling as much as we hoped, but for now we still love smashing burgers year round. The biggest downfall of the 301 Victoria Street location is that our dog Floyd can’t come to work with us every day anymore!

Nelson is known as a culinary hub. How does Ashman's Smash Burgers & Fries stand out in this vibrant food community?

We always have customers asking us things like “Why don’t you do onion rings…milkshakes…have more toppings…” and our response is always that we want to keep our menu small and simple. People come to us for smash burgers and fries, not for that elaborate burger or other options, and we are ok with staying that way!

What are your plans for the future?

We would love to open another business in Nelson in the future but are focusing on making sure this one runs smoothly for now.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We are so grateful for our customers. We couldn’t be doing this without them. We love those of you that show up every week and also those of you that come for that cheat meal once in a while. Thank you Nelson for all of your support!!

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