An Atlanta burger brand will open its first NC restaurants, including a Triangle location

A Southern slider brand is making a move into North Carolina, aiming to bring big flavors in small burgers.

The Atlanta-based Smalls Sliders announced this week that it will bring nine locations to North Carolina, singling out Raleigh as one of the first markets. Smalls was founded in Louisiana and is now owned by Atlanta private equity firm 10 Point Capital and counts former Saints quarterback Drew Brees among its investors.

Smalls specializes in a tight menu and small burgers. The sliders are thin griddled patties, and instead of larger burgers diners can add more sliders. There’s also the option of a double burger — called the “biggie smalls” style. Seasoned waffle fries are the only side option, specialty drinks include vanilla and chocolate milkshakes, and Coke and cherry Icees. In a rarity for burger shops, you can order queso as a dipping sauce.

The North Carolina franchise owners are real estate investor Aaron Zucker and restaurateur Bob Peterson, whose son Eric Peterson will be an operating partner.

In a phone interview, Zucker and Eric Peterson pointed to Raleigh, Fayetteville and Greenville as the targets for the first Smalls locations. But the brand doesn’t call them restaurants. Each Smalls is built in a series of shipping containers and each location is referred to as a “Can.” Zucker said the search is still underway for the first locations in North Carolina, but that the owners expect a grand can opening by 2025.

Each Smalls location is drive-thru and walk-up only. So far, only Louisiana and Mississippi have Smalls “cans” but expansions are planned throughout the Southern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Missouri and Texas.

Zucker said the focused menu was part of the attraction for Smalls, as well as the potential for a lasting legacy of bringing a new brand to North Carolina.

“We don’t offer a massive variety, we want to do one thing really well,” Zucker said. “We’re obsessed with what we do offer.”

Peterson said the menu is meant to offer something to everyone in the car, from the toddler to the high schooler to the adults.

“For me personally, the (sliders) allow flexibility for the consumer,” Peterson said. “You can appease kids, high schoolers, college students. It’s about quantities rather than size.”


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