That’s undoubtedly what executives of the national burger chains are asking themselves about Five Guys Burgers. Less than 10 years ago, there were just half a dozen of them in the northern Virginia area, where they were consistently ranked as the top burger. Today, there are over 700 Five Guys in 40 states and four Canadian provinces.
The “original” five guys were the Murrell family (father and four sons). The family had a fifth son and the sones are the current “five guys.”
I first encountered Five Guys about a year ago at Pier Park Mall in Panama City Beach. I stuck my head in their door and saw a long line. Most of the tables were full. Since it was “new” I thought perhaps folks were just checking them out. Looking at their menu, I was a bit shocked that a burger was about $4.50. That seemed too much for a burger. Even with splitting a drink and fries, I calculated that a meal for two would be a good 50% more than at Burger King or Hardee’s.
On return trips to Pier Park Mall, I continued to see the same long lines and full tables. I still did not check them out.
A few months after first seeing them in Panama City Beach, I noticed a sign near my office complex announcing that Five Guys would soon arrive. They did not; not at that location anyway.
Instead, they showed up at a strip center near where I live. There’s a movie theater across the street. The center’s main businesses are restaurants, which include Subway, Red Elephant Pizza, and a sports restaurant whose wings I like.
One day, after taking in a foreign film at the theater across the street, I decided to check out Five Guys. Was the burger really worth $4.50? The fact that during that quarter Discover was giving me a 5% bonus on restaurants helped me justify the almost $14 price 😉
Inside, I noticed that most of the tables were full. Just like at Pier Park Mall. I noticed that the burger was pretty “loaded”….grilled onions and mushrooms, healthy portion of lettuce and tomato, slathered with ketchup and mustard (I held the mayo). I also appreciated that while waiting for the burger there were plenty of roast peanuts in the shell to munch on.
That burger was easily the tastiest burger I’ve ever had. I cannot stomach a McDonald’s and even a Whopper or Thickburger have a certain “greasy” taste. The “regular” fries was so large that Susie and I could not finish them.
Now, my burger dollars are going more to Five Guys and less to Burger King / Hardee’s. We visit about once a month.
Those regular burgers are too much for Susie and me. Although even the little burger meal comes to $13 after sharing the fries and drink, I don’t mind. It’s definitely a value. I never leave Five Guys less than stuffed and needing a nap. (I do indulge those roast peanuts; too bad these guys didn’t begin in the deep South so that those peanuts would be boiled instead of roasted.)
Last week, I ranted about the Bloomin’ Onion. Five Guys burgers have been on various “unhealthy” lists. But choosing the little burger drops calories from 700 to 480 before toppings. (I cut out the mayo and that knocks off 100 calories.) The regular fries come in at 620 calories but we can’t eat them all. We bring about half home for the next day.
It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words, so here‘s what a “little burger“ looks like….