Five Guys’ sizzling expansion had a long prep time.
“It isn’t anything we wanted to do,” founder Jerry Murrell said. “We just kind of got pulled that way” after would-be franchisees continually pitched the concept. He opened his first store in 1986, and through 2001, the company expanded to just five locations — one for each of Mr. Murrell’s five sons.
Mr. Murrell didn’t think Five Guys’ cooking lent itself to easy replication. The potatoes were flown in fresh but often had slightly different starch contents that required tweaks in cooking times. Burger patties are always hand-formed.
After expanding regionally for a few years, the company began a national expansion two years ago. In 2009, Sales jumped 50 percent to $453 million, making it the fastest-growing restaurant with sales over $200 million, according to Technomic.
Mr. Murrell relishes the competition.
“If I were choose between opening in a town with 100 burger places and one with none, I’d go to the place with 100 burger places. People eat burgers in that town,” Murrell said. “I like being next to McDonald's.”
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