Five Guys History | Taking the time to process the Five Guys burgers and fries philosophy (this has nothing to do with actual hamburger history or the history of hamburger joints, so don’t get too excited)
I’ve been doing an awful lot of writing and promotion for this site, and lately that has meant quite a few posts about Amazon products that I wanted to promote based upon quality, affordability and my belief that others could benefit from products that others have also found useful.
This has led to a decline in posts that actually deal with the core subject of this blog, and that is the wonderful world of quick-casual cuisine, and more specifically the food at Five Guys burgers and fries restaurant franchises around the world (yes, they are expanding into an international market, starting with the domination of Canada).
Now, I won’t apologize for taking some time for myself in order to try to generate a passive income. Hell, why else would I be building blogs, if I didn’t want to try to make enough income to ‘fire my boss’?! Blogging for the sake of blogging is like drinking non-alcoholic beer; all the crappy taste of beer, without the feel-good buzz to go along with it…!
So, what about the history of Five Guys and their philosophy, or mantra, or whatever you choose to call it? Well, it’s simple really. This burger franchise started as a 1-store operation in Arlington, VA. It was tucked away behind a Boston Market, in a secluded strip mall, and wasn’t even visible from the road. I know this because I used to eat there, way back between 1992-96.
The Murrells knew that if they could grow a business in this location, with little or no advertising, then the rest would be history. With over 900+ locations as of this writing, and plans to build hundreds more, I would say that the rest is truly history…
The philosophy of this burger joint is simple; prepare and serve burgers, fries and hot dogs made with the freshest ingredients available. Also, those ingredients should be the best available as well, In other words, they aren’t making their own mayo, but they know that Hellman’s is the best, so that’s what they use.
Of course, some corners have to be cut when franchising a restaurant, and I can think of two instances where the best available ingredients just cannot be used… lettuce and tomatoes. Think about it, when’s the last time you had a truly great tomato… was it store-bought?
Of course not, it was locally grown at some tiny little farm just outside of town, right? Since quality control for a franchise starts with consistency, Five Guys just can’t take advantage of every local farmer in every market, so they serve up garden-variety tomatoes from the store suppliers.
The lettuce is a whole other issue, and I’ll say this… there is no reason to ever be putting iceberg lettuce on a burger. Iceberg lettuce is the vanilla of the leafy vegetable arena. It sucks! Why not invest in some leaf lettuce, or something a bit more interesting? It would be easier to work with, would be more aesthetically pleasing, and it would taste a helluva lot more interesting than iceberg. There, I said it, Five Guys has a flaw or two.
Keeping in mind that all food must be the freshest available, it should come as no surprise to anybody that there are no freezers on the premises of any Five Guys locations. Nothing is ever frozen, and it’s important to keep this in mind the next time you ask if they serve milkshakes.
Where would they store the ice cream for the shakes? Of course, they could use come pissy-ass shake machine that converts cream into frozen treats, but that would fly in the face of the philosophy.
Same goes for cheese fries; there are no cheese fries at Five Guys (say that ten times fast!). Five Guys fries and Five Guys Cajun fries are the two options, and they are perfectly fine options, and they are cooked in 100% peanut oil, giving them that boardwalk fry flavor.
The Five Guys burgers and fries franchise is so successful because they had the foresight to do just a few things, and then do them right! They didn’t half-ass anything, except the lettuce thing I mentioned earlier, but that’s a personal issue from a guy who grew up eating salads.
In short, this franchise has nothing to hang its head about, and there’s a reason why they’ve gone from their cult-like following in the Metro D.C. area (so-called because you can reach these areas by riding the Metro train) to an international sensation.
If you don’t believe me, then look them up in the annual Zagat Survey, where they are annually winning the best burger category for fast-food, and coming in a close second in the fries category to… you guessed it, freakin’ McDonald’s! Speaks volumes about this country’s obsession with that freakin’ clown, huh?!
They truly have come a long way in such a short span of time, and in my honest yet humble opinion there isn’t a better burger in their category, though there are many that others would say are just as good. All this success without doing any hardcore advertising, like radio spots, fliers, or even any Five Guys coupons… Boggles the mind a bit, huh?!
*addendum – They also use the best bacon they can find, a whopping $.19 a slice it costs at the moment, but they cook the living hell out of it, so that it feels like bacon in your mouth, but it tastes like overcooked and burnt… nothingness.
Either figure out a way to cook it properly or don’t serve bacon, simple as that! It’s supposed to have an applewood-smoked flavor, but those flavors waft away in a cloud of smoke and grease well before the bacon lands on the bun…