Five Gents

Five years ago I interviewed celebrity chef Daniel Boulud about the burger wars in New York (when one place did foie gras, another did Kobe beef, and another added gold leaf, and so forth in deadly escalation). Boulud said, “The funny thing now is that in France, in hotels and chefs are making burgers all over the place. So I mean maybe I should open a little burger place in Lyon, my hometown. That will be the biggest satisfaction I will get—if I can make burger place in Lyon and the Lyonnais come and eat it, I’ll be the king!” He should open a place across the Channel, too.

As CNN Money reports, “Two U.S. burger chains—Five Guys and Shake Shack—opened their doors in the heart of London this week as they look to take advantage of the city’s voracious appetite for top-quality burgers.” And I thought it was a big deal when Shake Shack came to D.C. (for the price, I find it a bit overrated).

Five Guys is more interesting—it started as a family-run business right here in Arlington. Jerry Murrell and his four sons would oversee the five outposts in the D.C. area. But then they expanded into a franchise operation, and I began spotting them in places like midtown Manhattan and my hometown, Toms River, NJ, where almost nothing new opens. (With a population of more than 86,000, T.R. has precisely two Starbucks. When T.G.I. Friday’s came to town, it was the busiest restaurant in the entire nationwide franchise for several weeks.)

In any event, there are currently more than 1,000 Five Guys locations—soon to include Covent Garden. It will be interesting to see if the quality of food and service at these various locations has been able to remain consistent. Hmm, sounds like an excellent story idea!

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