Five Guys, a prominent quick-serve food chain, has rapidly risen to the top of the fast food industry. This article delves into the untold truth behind the success of Five Guys Burgers and Fries, exploring the intriguing story of its founding, unique operational practices, and the controversies it has faced. From its kitchen secrets to the use of peanuts, from franchise expansion to wage discrimination allegations, this article sheds light on the lesser-known aspects of this iconic fast-food chain.
1. No Timers in the Kitchens
A distinct feature of any Five Guys kitchen is the absence of timers. Founding father Jerry Murrell believes that good cooks know when a burger is done, and this philosophy guides their cooking process.
Moreover, the decision to make their burgers thin was based on extensive experimentation with thicker patties, which resulted in dried-out burgers. The thinner patties not only maintain taste and texture but also cook faster, ensuring a consistent quality that keeps customers coming back for more.
2. The Refusal to Deliver: The Pentagon Incident
Five Guys has a steadfast policy against delivery services, even when requested by prestigious customers like the Pentagon. Jerry Murrell adamantly refused to compromise on the quality of their products, believing that delivery would cheapen the brand.
This bold stance led to hanging a massive banner outside their Arlington store with the slogan “Absolutely No Delivery.” Surprisingly, this decision paid off as their business at the Pentagon increased by around 20 percent, and even President Obama paid a visit.
3. The Bun Controversy
While Five Guys’ burgers are renowned for their deliciousness, some customers have complained about the squishy condition of their buns. This unique taste and texture are the result of the early days when the buns came from Brenner’s, an Alexandria bakery.
However, as they expanded, they started contracting out bun production, ensuring their signature bun’s consistent quality. Though more expensive, these buns are cherished by devoted fans.
4. The Art of Making Perfect French Fries
Five Guys takes immense pride in their french fries, which are prepared with precision. They source all their potatoes from Idaho, making up 5 percent of the state’s potato sales. After hand-cutting the potatoes, they undergo a 3-minute power wash to remove excess starch.
Pre-cooked, cooled, and finished in the fryer, the fries are then served with a distinctive shake and a liberal use of peanut oil to enhance their taste.
The 3-minute power wash process for the potatoes is crucial as it ensures that the fries achieve the perfect crispy exterior while retaining a fluffy interior. The liberal use of peanut oil not only adds to the flavor but also contributes to the fries’ unique texture.
5. Navigating Healthier Options
Five Guys is not known for being a health-conscious fast-food option. However, for those seeking healthier choices, they do offer alternatives like the Veggie Sandwich or a bunless, Little Burger with lighter toppings. Nonetheless, it’s essential to be aware of the calorie and fat content in their menu items to make informed choices.
The Veggie Sandwich is a popular choice among vegetarian and health-conscious customers. It is made with a custom blend of grilled mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and melted American cheese, served on a toasted bun with all the standard toppings.
6. The Peanut Dilemma
While peanuts are a popular accompaniment at Five Guys, they pose a risk for customers with allergies. The company uses peanut oil in their fryers and exclusively offers peanuts as a snack. Although allergy information is provided, Five Guys maintains their peanut-friendly policy, relying on posted warnings and restrictions to keep customers safe.
Five Guys takes food allergies seriously and provides clear information about potential allergens present in their menu items. They also ensure that peanuts are stored separately from other toppings to prevent cross-contamination.
7. Meteoric Growth and Franchising
Five Guys stands as a testament to successful franchising. In just six years between 2006 and 2012, the company experienced an unprecedented 792 percent growth, surpassing other major fast-food chains. Their decision to franchise paid off immensely, with the company reaching over $1 billion in revenue and expanding internationally.
The success of Five Guys’ franchising model can be attributed to their strict selection process for franchisees, ensuring that those who share the company’s vision and commitment to quality are chosen to represent the brand.
8. Infinite Burger Combinations
Five Guys boasts that there are more than 250,000 ways to order your burger due to the various options for toppings and sizes. This wide range of customization appeals to customers who appreciate choice and variety in their meals.
The “All the Way” option allows customers to enjoy their burgers with all the standard toppings without any additional cost, promoting a sense of value and satisfaction.
9. Coca-Cola Freestyle Machines
Five Guys made history as the first fast-food chain to introduce Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. These machines allow customers to mix various soda flavors, creating personalized beverages to accompany their meals. The innovative machines have become a favorite among customers.
The Coca-Cola Freestyle machines also offer a selection of low-calorie and diet beverage options, catering to health-conscious customers who wish to enjoy their favorite drinks guilt-free.
10. Dynamic Pricing and Market Influence
Five Guys employs dynamic pricing, allowing their prices to change based on the market and location. While this approach has advantages for the business, it has also faced criticism from customers who feel the prices do not always align with the perceived value of their meals.
Dynamic pricing allows Five Guys to respond to fluctuations in the cost of ingredients and operational expenses, ensuring the sustainability of their business in the face of changing market conditions.
11. Mystery Shoppers and Employee Incentives
In a unique marketing strategy, Five Guys invests its advertising budget into mystery shoppers. These anonymous evaluators visit stores and provide feedback, encouraging staff to maintain high-quality service. The company rewards its top-performing restaurants with generous bonuses, fostering a competitive and customer-focused environment.
Mystery shoppers play a crucial role in maintaining Five Guys’ standards of excellence. They evaluate factors such as food quality, customer service, cleanliness, and adherence to company policies.
12. Controversial Acts and Legal Battles
Five Guys faced controversies, including providing free food to the National Guard during a crisis in Baltimore, accusations of wage discrimination, and legal disputes over restaurant design copyrights and gift card dormancy fees.
The decision to provide free food to the National Guard garnered both praise and criticism, with some praising the act of support while others questioned the potential impact on the company’s bottom line during challenging times.
13. Shaquille O’Neal’s Franchise Empire
Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal made headlines for owning and selling over 155 Five Guys franchise locations, making him one of the brand’s most successful franchise operators.
Shaquille O’Neal’s association with Five Guys brought additional visibility to the brand, attracting fans of the basketball star to the fast-food chain.
14. The Employee Dress Code
Five Guys follows a specific dress code for its employees, distinguishing different roles by shirt color. Red shirts indicate cooks, white shirts designate shift leaders, and black shirts are worn by managers. This color-coded system not only facilitates seamless communication but also helps customers easily identify staff members, enhancing the overall dining experience.
The dress code also includes the iconic Five Guys cap, adding to the brand’s recognizable image. Moreover, the company prioritizes a clean and professional appearance, reflecting their commitment to quality and service.
15. Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing
In recent years, Five Guys has taken significant strides towards sustainability and ethical sourcing of ingredients. They have made efforts to partner with suppliers who follow environmentally responsible practices and adhere to high animal welfare standards. Additionally, they continuously explore ways to reduce their environmental impact, such as implementing energy-efficient practices and reducing waste.
Five Guys regularly reviews its supply chain to ensure that the ingredients used meet their quality standards while also aligning with their commitment to sustainability. They prioritize sourcing ingredients from local suppliers whenever possible to support local communities and reduce carbon emissions.
16. The Secret Menu
Like many successful fast-food chains, Five Guys has a secret menu, adding an element of exclusivity to the dining experience. While not officially listed, some customers are aware of these hidden items and enjoy the thrill of ordering something unique and off-the-menu.
Some of the items rumored to be part of the secret menu include the “Double Grilled Cheeseburger,” the “B.L.T.,” and the “Patty Melt.” These items are not available at all locations, and their availability may vary depending on regional preferences.
17. The Social Media Presence
Five Guys actively engages with its customers through social media platforms. They use various channels to share new menu items, promotions, and interact with their fan base. Their social media strategy allows them to stay connected with customers, receive feedback, and respond to inquiries promptly.
The company often features user-generated content on their social media accounts, encouraging customers to share their Five Guys experiences and building a sense of community around the brand.
18. The Allergen Chart
Understanding the importance of catering to customers with food allergies, Five Guys provides a detailed allergen chart on their website. This chart allows customers to review allergen information for each menu item, enabling them to make informed choices based on their dietary restrictions.
Five Guys also includes a section on their website dedicated to frequently asked questions related to allergens, reaffirming their commitment to transparency and customer safety.
19. Charitable Initiatives
Five Guys actively participates in charitable initiatives and community outreach programs. They collaborate with various organizations to support causes like education, hunger relief, and healthcare. Through donations and fundraisers, they contribute positively to the communities they serve.
The company has been involved in initiatives such as providing meals to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting local schools and charities, and partnering with non-profit organizations to make a difference in people’s lives.
20. The Future of Five Guys
As of the time of writing, Five Guys continues to be a dominant force in the fast-food industry, with its expansion showing no signs of slowing down. Their commitment to quality, customer satisfaction, and innovation has allowed them to weather challenges and maintain their popularity.
Five Guys has expressed interest in further international expansion, aiming to introduce their brand to new markets worldwide. They also continue to explore menu innovations and sustainable practices to stay ahead in the competitive fast-food landscape.
The success story of Five Guys is a testament to the power of perseverance, dedication to quality, and customer-centric focus. From their humble beginnings to becoming an international fast-food icon, Five Guys has left an indelible mark on the industry.
The company’s commitment to using fresh ingredients, maintaining a dynamic and diverse menu, and fostering a sense of community with their customers has undoubtedly been a recipe for success. As they continue to grow and evolve, their journey will undoubtedly be one worth following for both fans and critics alike.