When Brianna Cano and her father Robert went on a family vacation to Ecuador a few years ago, they never thought they would come back with an idea for starting their own restaurant.
While in South America, they tried a “twisted” potato, carved out, served on a skewer and decked with a variety of spices and toppings like salt, lemon pepper and Sriracha sauce.
“We thought the burger and potato would be a phenomenal mix,” Brianna said. “When we got back, we thought this could work.”
With her father’s experience in the catering business, he is the founder of RCano Events Catering Company, and careful planning, the two launched Twist and Smash’d, a fast and casual burger joint at 72-06 Austin St. in Forest Hills.
Their selection of customizable burgers are small, but they pack a punch as they are made with 100 percent premium natural Black Angus beef and served on a miniature potato bun or whole-wheat wrap.
Along with serving their signature twisted potatoes, the new restaurant has also received rave reviews for its chicken and waffles, truffle popcorn and “Tossed and Smash’d Salads.”
Sunnyside native Kelly O’Neill brought her family to the restaurant last week.
“It’s pretty good,” said O’Neill, a blogger for Mommy Poppins. “We travel everywhere to eat in Queens, so we will definitely come back.”
Twist and Smash’d had their soft opening on Black Friday, however when the customers kept coming back for more Brianna said they decided to just stay open.
“The whole family has been really involved in getting this restaurant off the ground,” Brianna said.
She added that the restaurant uses biodegradable cups and supplies as they practice composting and recycling on site.
“We’re trying to give back to the environment by making this a green establishment,” she said.
Brianna and her family live in Franklin Square, however when they were scouting out locations, she said there was no other place she would rather be than on Austin Street.
“There’s great traffic from the LIRR, as well as the subways and it just seemed like they needed a burger place around here,” she said. “It is flooded with people and they aren’t heavily populated with restaurants, so we thought it would be a great opportunity.”
Loretta Volpe, owner of GMLV public relations agency, taught Brianna at Pace University and is now involved in helping promote the new restaurant.
Together, Brianna and Volpe studied the neighborhood for foot traffic before settling on the location.
“As soon as she brought this to me I knew we had to work together on this because she was a great student,” Volpe said.