Friday, April 16, 2010

Five Guys

Five Guys is an upscale fast food restaurant chain that originated in Arlington, Virginia. I've heard about this place from various sources during the past couple of years, and noticed a location that opened in downtown Naperville. However, since Bobcat & I aren't big fans of "grease food", nor do we eat out during the weekdays, we never had an opportunity to stop by.
Then I read an article in INC. Magazine... I really love their coverage on well-known "giants", ie. Yelp, Facebook, etc. Since they're interviewing the owner of these companies, and writing in a story-telling style, I always end up intrigued.

"Five Guys" was named after the owner, Jerry Murrell, and his 4 sons (later, his 5th son also joined this business). Jerry's sons didn't want to attend college, and he was supportive of their decision, so they took their college tuition to open up 'Five Guys'.

This is a place that put little focus on decor, but strong emphasis of fresh ingredients. For example, although it would be easier to import potatoes from California, they are insistent on quality Idaho potatoes. They do not want to add a lot of menu items...just want to focus on making good burgers & fries. They never advertise... they believe customers are their best advertisement. They do not deliver...the Pentagon once called for a delivery, and they insisted they do not deliver. They are also insistent on cleanliness. Although Jerry Murrell originally did not want to franchise (felt he wouldn't be able to ensure quality), they now ensure quality by holding meetings & having 3rd party auditors. They have $1000/store contests for cleanliness and excellent services.

I respect all of the principles, thus, decided that I must try their burgers & fries. Bobcat & I went to their Naperville location after work on Thursday. The place is simple, straightforward, much like their services (nothing extraordinary nor friendly). The kitchen is open, so you can see that it seems well-organized and clean. However, the dining area had nut shells, receipt, misc. garbage on the floor and dirty tabletops. I don't remember seeing anyone on the floor, clearing up the tables after customers (ie. at Panera, there's always someone that sweeps & wipe down tables).

Food-wise, the boardwalk-style fries are good. I thought it had just enough salt, with crisp exterior, soft potato-intense flavor. It's good by itself, but dipped in vinegar & ketchup was tasty too. In the article, it said they soak fries in water, so when they pre-fry them, steam is forced out of the fries. This creates a seal so when they fry them a second time, the fries won't be greasy.

The regular burger is too big for me.. I didn't realize the "little" version would be single patty, which I'd strongly prefer. I thought about getting the smaller burger, but I didn't know what the difference would be. Since it was the first time trying a place, I didn't want to end up not being able to enjoy their "best" item to its full potential. I appreciate the fresh, meaty flavor of the beef. But after getting through half, I was stuffed, and the meat started to feel bland, and I needed more ketchup. I really think a single patty would be a better balance w/ the ingredients. Since it was double, I could barely taste the sauces & veggies. The bread was soft -- I prefer it slightly crisp. I'm surprised grilling it didn't make it crisp. Maybe it was because they use their hand to mash the sandwich together (you can see the finger imprints on the buns). The bun has a sweetness, soft flavor to it though. I do like their variety of free ingredients, since I love piling stuff on my burgers. Bobcat was not impressed by the burger at all. It was complaint after complaint. One of the big issues is their patties are always cooked well-done (another thing they're insistent on). We're used to the red, juicy, soft medium rares (or at least medium well).
It will probably be a while before we stop by again, but when we do, I'm going for the single patty.

Sidenote: HUGE portion on fries -- we shared 1 regular order & it was more than enuf.

Five Guys Burgers & Fries
22 East Chicago Avenue
Naperville, IL 60540-4900
(630) 355-1850

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