The Mohegan Tribe announced Thursday a new franchise agreement to bring 16 locations of a Colorado burger chain to New England.
The tribe entered an agreement to open 16 Smashburger locations in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The burger restaurant chain is based in Denver.
"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," Kevin Brown "Red Eagle," chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said in a statement.
In Connecticut, the tribe plans to open locations in the following counties: New London, Tolland, Windham, Litchfield and Middlesex.
It will also open locations in the Worcester, Mass., area, the Berkshires and elsewhere in Massachusetts.
Smashburger started in 2007, offering "smashed to order" burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and side dishes along with Häagen-Dazs shakes and local craft beers.
The chain has 272 locations in 30 states.
This is the latest of three announcements this spring by the tribe heralding new ventures outside of its expertise operating casinos in Uncasville, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and Atlantic City, N.J.
The tribe announced last month an agreement with Arooga's Franchising LP to own and operate 15 Arooga's Grille House and Sports Bar restaurants in New England.
The tribe is also getting into the energy business.
The tribe said last month it bought a wood-pellet production plant owned by the Pennington Seed Co. in Peebles, Ohio.
All the assets, including a facility in Kenbridge, Va., now belong to Northeast Wood Products LLC, a subsidiary of the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut.
The tribe's subsidiary expects to produce more than 130,000 tons each year from its Ohio and Indiana plants, which will be up to full production in 120 days.
The tribe also has an agreement to buy Pennington's pellet production plant in Ligonier, Ind.
"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," Brown said.