Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Photo by Bobak Ha'Eri.

Other chains focus on speed and quantity over quality, but Five Guys Burgers and Fries has become a very popular brand by keeping their standards high. Five Guys is a fast casual restaurant concept, not a fast food stand. Each location combines the short wait and convenience of a fast food restaurant with the better atmosphere and service of casual dining. The restaurants feature a red and white checked theme that echos the classic décor of 50s diners.

Jerry Murell and his four sons started the original Five Guys in Arlington, Virginia in 1986. A fifth son later came along, and all five of his sons now manage the company, with each overseeing a different part of the operation. For example, Tyler Murell runs the bakery that supplies all locations with baked products, while brother Chad manages the training program for new franchisees. Matt and Jim travel extensively to provide face to face support for restaurants, and Ben interviews potential franchisees and chooses who will open a new location with the chain.

The Five Guys brand didn’t grow rapidly until recently. From 1986 to 2002 the family managed only six restaurants in the Northern Virginia area. That year they created a franchise system and by April 2011 the Five Guys chain included over 750 locations in 40 states. International locations are also located in a variety of Canadian provinces. The chain proved so popular as a franchise that the chain grew more rapidly than most other fast casual burger chain.

While other hamburger chains boost sales by creating widely promoted and hyped burger combinations, the Five Guys menu features just the basic hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon burger and bacon cheeseburger. All of these burgers also come in smaller sizes, such as the Little Hamburger. Customers create their own custom burger combinations by adding their choice of toppings like grilled onions, mushrooms and jalapeno peppers.