Five Guys and the Art of a Great Burger

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logo2.gifYesterday I told you how my college education cost me $1.6 million and questioned whether it was worth the lost opportunity cost. Today, we look at Five Guys who took their education fund and, instead of going to college, started flipping burgers. Here’s the story (and its true).

Founded in 1986 in Arlington, Virginia, Five Guys is a burgers and fries joint. Owned by Janie and Jerry Murrell and their five sons, Five Guys was the result of a choice (isn’t everything in life). Go to college or use your college fund to start a burger joint. The sons chose burgers and fries. The original store and the few that followed were, at first, standing room only. Literally, there was no seating in the restaurants. You could eat peanuts out of a cardboard box while you waited for your made-to-order burger, and shells littered the floor. The first expansion came with seating in some of their stores, and by 2002, the Murrell’s had grown their business to five stores on the success of a burger that regularly won award after award.

A few years ago, the Murrell’s decided to franchise their operation. By March of 2007, they had 150 stores, all east of the Mississippi! Today, there are more than 1,000 stores in the planning and building stage. How much does a store make? About $1 million in revenue a year. If you’ve never had a Five Guys burger, by all means do if you get the chance. I regularly visit the Five Guys at International Square in Washington, D.C.. And by the way, the fries are as good as the burgers. Hand cut and fried in peanut oil, they are to die for.

So, do you think the Five Guys regret not going to college?

Published or Updated: May 23, 2011
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. mapgirl says:

    I can testify. They are EXCELLENT and a good value. They only take cash (so no credit cards for your everyday expenses), great topping selection, fresh UNFROZEN patties and are usually extremely clean. They have a white and red tile interior, which is harsh on most complexions, but you can spot dirt pretty quickly, so it pays to be tidy.

    I still think In N’Out has the best fast food burgers (Animal style please!), but Five Guys is a great value. We can eat a double patty burger, a little cheeseburger, fries and two drinks for less than $20. Part of their charm is the fact that they don’t offer a giant menu, just a lot of different topping options.

    I highly recommend it to anyone who visits DC.

  2. Ivan says:

    Stories like this don’t tell the big picture. They just motivate kids to make poor choices with their future.
    If we take, at random, 1000 people who spend their money on college, and another 1000 people who spend their money starting small businesses, which group would you say is better off today? Keep in mind that only 35% of small businesses survive their first year.

  3. Deacon says:

    Nice way to steer the answer to a question with that last sentence. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you but if you want an honest and self thinking answer, don’t point out a “fact” that few realize. Otherwise you’re just trying to prove a point.

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