Drew Brees Wants You to Eat the Cheese(burgers)

NEW ORLEANS — “Don’t eat the cheese” was one of former Saints head coach Sean Payton’s go-to expressions (borrowed from his mentor Bill Parcells). It meant “don’t buy into the hype.”

Now his former quarterback might beg to differ.

NFL legend and Saint for life Drew Brees is one of the franchise partners bringing the Smalls Sliders cheeseburger drive-thru concept to Metairie. The new quick service restaurant chain is “hyper focused” on made-to-order cheeseburgers and only cheeseburgers. Each batch is made to order and designed to be highly “craveable.”

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Brees will be the franchisee of a Metairie store (location to be announced) in partnership with his former Purdue football teammates Jason Loerzel and Ben Smith. 

Backed by Brees and Walk-On’s founder Brandon Landry, the first Smalls Sliders opened in September 2019 at 4343 Nicholson Drive in Baton Rouge. Now there’s a second Baton Rouge location and another in Thibodaux. Stores in Shreveport and Prairieville are under construction, and there’s one in Alexandria on the way. In the greater New Orleans area, the three planned locations are Metairie, Marrero and Slidell. 

Smalls Sliders brought on Joe Lewis as its first CEO ahead of a plan to launch the brand’s franchise program across the Gulf South. He most recently served as CEO of Twist Brands, a Louisiana-based art and crafts franchise with nearly 400 U.S. locations, and he is the former vice president and general counsel at Smoothie King Franchises.

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“Joe’s experience in building franchise icons and expertise in franchise relations make him the perfect fit to assume the reins ahead of our expansion,” said Jacob Dugas, another co-founder of Smalls Sliders, in a press release.

“I am excited about this unique opportunity to work with a quality veteran franchise ownership group who have made a commitment to grow the brand from the ground up the right way,” said Lewis. “This team understands the focus must be on building a culture of people first, franchise support and profitability. The result of this focus is already showing in impressive unit economics from their first location. I was also drawn to the founding teams’ enthusiasm for building a company that impacts people’s lives, from their team members, to franchise owners to the community. We want to use these small burgers to make a big difference in peoples’ lives across the country.”

Smalls Sliders was the brainchild of Landry and Dugas. To grow the brand, they were joined by Brees, Lewis and LSU Professor Scott Fargason. 

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The restaurant’s modular stores are built offsite using shipping containers. They offer drive-thru and walk-up ordering with outdoor seating.

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