Emma Tanner, News Editor

This summer a new food truck appeared at local events in the Shoals. Residents flock to the bright red trailer anytime it’s spotted parked in their area. The draw is tasty, affordable burgers, perfectly crisp fries and refreshing soda. SMASHED, a food truck named after their signature “smash burgers”, has become somewhat of a Shoals sensation. 


Barron Hamilton, the owner and creator of SMASHED, has lived in the Shoals his entire life. He grew up in Killen, Ala., where he graduated from Brooks High School. Hamilton currently resides in Tuscumbia with his wife and six children. 


His passion for food and cooking began at a young age. He originally envisioned himself owning a restaurant, but COVID-19 kickstarted the idea of a food truck. The food truck’s mobility allows SMASHED to reach a wider customer base, offers more flexible scheduling and allows the family to spend more time together as they work. 


Hamilton’s restaurant experience began at Turtle Point Country Club’s snack bar, directly after his high school graduation. Following his time at Turtle Point, he worked in Killen at Outpost 72 as both a cook and manager, as well as at Ryan’s Buffet. He then worked at Cracker Barrel from 2009 to 2021. On Dec. 11, 2021, SMASHED made its first appearance at Long-Lewis of the Shoals.


“In a restaurant you have all of these different positions,” Hamilton said. “My schedule at one time consisted of 140 employees. Now it’s me, my wife and one employee. It’s so much easier. It’s less to manage.”


Hamilton takes pride in the fact that SMASHED is self-owned. The food truck has created a community of its own among staff and customers. There was a brief adjustment period between working in a bustling restaurant and the smaller, more intimate space of a food truck. Most of Hamilton’s food truck skills were learned hands-on and paired alongside the years of experience he had in restaurants. 


Much of the learning curve came from operating the trailer itself, as cooking didn’t differ from place-to-place. He also decided against soft openings, instead opting to utilize word-of-mouth and social media to garner attention for events he would appear at.


“I’ve always run people’s businesses,” Hamilton said. “I’ve always been in charge of everything about a business, but it was never truly mine.” 


Hamilton views the food truck experience to be most similar to casual dining rather than that of fast food. While the order time is speedy, he hopes the quality of the meal transcends that of fast food and the customers leave feeling they got their money’s worth. He understands customers’ time is valuable, so he makes the most of the time that SMASHED spends working on orders to ensure the best quality.


“I understand there are people on thirty minute lunch breaks, and if they come and stand in line they’ve lost their break already,” Hamilton said. “So we try to be as quick as we can.”


Marketing has been an important part of SMASHED’s image. Patrons can purchase merchandise with the catchphrase “Get Smashed” to represent the business, but their popularity began with social media. On Facebook, the SMASHED page has over 11,000 “likes,” 12,000 followers and 105 reviews. 


“[SMASHED] is doing much better than I ever anticipated, and I don’t say that in a bragging way,” Hamilton said. “When I first made my business plan I was just figuring out what I needed to do to survive, because that was what I was trying to do. Looking at my business plan, it’s about 600 percent over what I projected.”


Overall, Hamilton is most grateful for those who continue to support his endeavors. While the food truck is constantly mobile, there are customers who visit SMASHED nearly every day it is serving food. Hamilton appreciates the supporters that make an effort to be loyal to the truck.


 “It makes you appreciate what you do a lot more,” Hamilton said.