My friend Alyssa tells a story about being in five guys menu 2020 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 the right amount of guys.”
Once I started scripting this, friends, I needed a longer, drawn-out story here. However when I heard that, I deleted everything. Because dammit if this Sam Adams-swilling street poet didn’t sum it up perfectly.
“Whenever you can offer a good haircut or whenever you can serve a great drink at a bar or if you can serve an excellent hamburger, you can make money in America.” — Five Guys founder Jerry Murrell’s mother
Where did Five Guys result from? In 1986, the 4 brothers Murrell opened a takeaway burger joint in Arlington, Virginia, only a stone’s throw from DC, AKA Cap City. Because they started the place making use of their parents, that constituted “Five Guys,” and thus that name came to be (and subsequently, a younger brother could be born two years later, providing them with five actual guys as sons). The principles were simple: hand-formed, fresh-ground beef; fries cooked in peanut oil; no freezers. As each burger was made to buy, they introduced complimentary shelled peanuts as something to eat when you waited.
The place took off, therefore, on the next 15 years, they methodically opened four more in and around Cap City, then slowly begun to expand into lower Virginia and Maryland. Starting in 2003, they expanded nationwide. Nowadays there are over 1,500 Five Guys locations worldwide. In accordance with their internet 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 a scary topic to me. As an example, In-N-Out naturally fits into this conversation (and has 340 locations) as the burger is often discussed (by me, no less, later), within the national conversation of cult chain burgers along most 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.
What is Five Guys trying to do now? With this hyper-aggressive expansion plan, Five Guys is quite clearly seeking to exert their influence within the Great Burger Wars from the fast-casual era. Along with nearly 4 times the amount of restaurants his or her next biggest rival, they’ve got a remarkable head start. Also, quite famously, they never advertised in any way until about three years ago — which, if you feel about it, is type of a means of advertising by itself amirite?!? As well as then, their ad footprint was purposefully small, and really only on the web and with social networking. They are savvy Guys (and Girls).
How I made it happen: During the period of two weeks, I went to two Northern California Five Guys an overall total of three times. I ordered each and every item on the actual menu, plus one off-menu item, and ate a bunch of peanuts for no reason as i was waiting.
A note on the peanuts: They’re fine? Shelling peanuts is a lot more regarding the process for me, that i found mildly relaxing. But ultimately, they’re still just peanuts, because the phrase “I bought it for peanuts” doesn’t suggest they’re an enormous value-add, I’m not spending more hours on them.
Five Stars/Guys Who Definitely Are Enjoyable To Get Around: Many moons ago, I reviewed just about any major chain cheeseburger. Much towards the chagrin of my In-N-Out fanboy California family, I proclaimed Five Guys as getting the best. (Note: this is before Shake Shake began their intensive expansion, so that they weren’t yet in the mix, plus it was actually a confusing time for your fhyxvv food vs fast-casual debate I mentioned earlier.) But after spending recent years eating 330 burgers from independent restaurants all over the country, I hadn’t been to http://www.fiveguys.com/.
But lo and behold, upon my revisits the burgers were again a minor revelation. Every time, I saw char on the meat, hand-formed patties that broke apart easily, a well-griddled bun that didn’t get soggy, as well as the exclusive utilization of American cheese, which is THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE CHEESE on burgers. They aren’t perfect (they tend to undercook the griddled onions, which doesn’t permit them to properly caramelize), but 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 only a grilled cheese, but with an additional burger patty and grilled onions. The patty melt advantages from the reality that they flip spanning a regular bun and double grill it as to what would normally function as the inside of the bun as the outside, and two layers of cheese encasing the burger patty. The grilled onions inside the mix definitely makes the entire thing a gooey, griddled delight. Honestly, I can’t recommend it enough. I ate the whole thing after I’d sampled two burgers, two hot dogs, two other sandwiches, two orders of fries, and 2 milkshakes. I think my body created another stomach just to sate my needs.