My buddy Alyssa tells a story about being in 5 guys menu in Boston. She’d just settled down with her food at her table when she overhead an over-served guy likely wearing a Shawn Thornton Bruins jersey speaking to himself as he inhaled a cheeseburger. “Ahhhh,” he sighed, contentedly, in between bites. “This is simply the right amount of guys.”
After I started writing this, friends, I had an extended, drawn-out story here. However when I heard that, I deleted everything. Because dammit in the event that Sam Adams-swilling street poet didn’t sum it up perfectly.
“Whenever you can give a good haircut or whenever you can serve a good drink with a bar or whenever you can serve an excellent hamburger, you can generate income in the united states.” — Five Guys founder Jerry Murrell’s mother
Where did Five Guys result from? In 1986, the four brothers Murrell opened a takeaway burger joint in Arlington, Virginia, just a stone’s throw from DC, AKA Cap City. As they started the area with their parents, that constituted “Five Guys,” therefore that name was born (and subsequently, a younger brother would be born two years later, providing them with five actual guys as sons). The guidelines were simple: hand-formed, fresh-ground beef; fries cooked in peanut oil; no freezers. As each burger was made to acquire, they introduced complimentary shelled peanuts as something to eat as you waited.
The place took off, therefore, over the next 20 years, they methodically opened four more in and around Cap City, then slowly started to expand into lower Virginia and Maryland. Starting in 2003, they expanded nationwide. There are now over 1,500 Five Guys locations worldwide. In accordance with their site “another 1,500 (are) in development.”
Competitor context. The clearest competitors to Five Guys are Shake Shack (around 200 total locations), Smashburger (370), Habit Burger (250), and Fat Burger (over 200). The thought of fast-food burger chains versus fast-casual is really a scary topic to me. As an example, In-N-Out naturally fits into this conversation (and it has 340 locations) since the burger is frequently discussed (by me, no less, later), inside the national conversation of cult chain burgers along many of these joints, but it is more fast food than fast casual (the presence of drive-thrus in many locations is the differentiator for me). But this shit is tough to define, and giving me anxiety, so let’s just proceed.
Precisely what is Five Guys trying to do now? With this particular hyper-aggressive expansion plan, Five Guys is extremely clearly attempting to exert their influence inside the Great Burger Wars of the fast-casual era. Along with nearly 4x the quantity of restaurants his or her next biggest rival, they’ve got an amazing head start. Also, quite famously, they never advertised in any way until around three years ago — which, if you believe about it, is type of a means of advertising by itself amirite?!? And even then, their ad footprint was purposefully small and really only online and with social media. They may be savvy Guys (and Girls).
The Way I made it happen: During the period of 2 weeks, I went to two Northern California Five Guys an overall total of 3 times. I ordered each item on the actual menu, plus one off-menu item, and ate a lot of peanuts for no reason as i was waiting.
A note on the peanuts: They’re fine? Shelling peanuts is more regarding the process to me, that i found mildly relaxing. But ultimately, they’re still just peanuts, and since the phrase “I bought it for peanuts” doesn’t suggest they’re an enormous value-add, I’m not spending more time on them.
Five Stars/Guys That Are Enjoyable To Become Around: Many moons ago, I reviewed just about any major chain cheeseburger. Much for the chagrin of my In-N-Out fanboy California family, I proclaimed Five Guys as having the best. (Note: this is before Shake Shake began their intensive expansion, so they weren’t yet within the mix, and it had been a confusing time for the fhyxvv food vs fast-casual debate I mentioned earlier.) But after spending the recent years eating 330 burgers from independent restaurants all over the country, I hadn’t been to 5 guys.
But lo and behold, upon my revisits the burgers were again a small revelation. Each and every time, I saw char on the meat, hand-formed patties that broke apart easily, a properly-griddled bun that didn’t get soggy, and also the exclusive utilization of American cheese, the ONLY ACCEPTABLE CHEESE on burgers. They aren’t perfect (they have a tendency to undercook the griddled onions, which doesn’t let them properly caramelize), however they are definitely within the In-N-Out,/Shake Shack pantheon of quality fast-casual burger chains that sit above the rest of the major players.
Essentially it’s simply a grilled cheese, though with an additional burger patty and grilled onions. The patty melt advantages of the reality that they flip more than a regular bun and double grill it as to what would normally become the inside of the bun because the outside, and 2 layers of cheese encasing the burger patty. The grilled onions in the mix definitely makes the entire thing a gooey, griddled delight. Honestly, I can’t recommend it enough. I ate the entire thing after I’d sampled two burgers, two hot dogs, two other sandwiches, two orders of fries, and 2 milkshakes. I believe my body created another stomach in order to sate my needs.