"It wasn't like I went to my garage and did this stuff on my own. I had very tenured partners, well capitalized, very focused on making a difference," says Ryan. "It was a common fixed point on the horizon that a bunch of tenured old, wise guys went after. That's how we did it."
Prior to launching Smashburger, Ryan studied food science. He earned his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees in flavor and fragrance chemistry from Michigan State University, and he has worked at Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and Quiznos.
An industry veteran, Ryan won acclaim as the man responsible for the stuffed crust pizza craze at Pizza Hut. He and his teams also produced a whole host of fast food classics: The Lover's Line, Breadsticks and Chicken Wings, and Sicilian Pizza at Pizza Hut; McFlurries, The Dollar Menu, and McGriddles at McDonald's; and the Steakhouse Beef Dip and the Prime Rib Sub at Quiznos.