Five Guys, an international restaurant chain that has developed a bit of a cult following for their made-to-order burgers, fresh-cut fries and milkshakes flavored with real bacon bits, is looking to come to Roseburg.
The fast-growing chain, which is based in Arlington, Virginia, has submitted plans to build a 2,500 square-foot eatery near the Hampton Inn on Mulholland Drive. Early plans also call for a coffee shop and bank to be built at the site, known as Hanna Heritage Place.
“We’re just in the beginning phase of this process. The franchisee is looking at our site, but it could go either way,” said Polly Johnson, president of Hanna Retail Investments, which owns the property. “We’re hoping to stir the pot and get something going.”
Five Guys is often in the conversation for best chain burger, alongside eateries like Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger. Five Guys devotees tout its never-frozen burgers that feature more than a dozen topping choices, including grilled onions and mushrooms, jalapenos and green peppers.
Five Guys is also known for its fries — burlap sacks filled with whole potatoes are displayed to show their freshness —which are fresh cut and double-fried in peanut oil. Several hot dogs and a vegetarian sandwich are also on the menu, along with shakes, including ones flavored with coffee, peanut butter and, yes, bacon.
Five Guys also gives out free peanuts for patrons to nosh on while they wait for their order.
“There’s something kind of refreshingly simple about Five Guys. They are basically just a burger stand, that’s how they started, with a really great sort of diner-style cheeseburger,” said Kevin Alexander, who covers the fast food industry for the website Thrillist and has published a book on the topic.
Alexander rates Five Guys fries “superior” and its milkshakes “delicious.” He warns people to avoid the veggie sandwich and instead opt for the patty melt, which is not listed on the menu.
The “five guys” refer to founders Jerry and Janie Murrell’s five sons: Jim, Matt, Chad, Ben and Tyler.
The Murrells opened their first Five Guys in 1986 in Arlington. The company grew slowly, with five more restaurants opening in the Washington, D.C. area over the next 15 years. In 2002, Five Guys began to franchise in Virginia and Maryland and things quickly took off. Five Guys sold 300 units over the next 18 months in those two states and then decided to open franchises throughout the country.
Today there are more than 1,500 Five Guys restaurants in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Europe and the Middle East, and another 1,500 in development.
There are 16 Five Guys in Oregon, most clustered in and around Portland. There are also locations in Eugene, Springfield and Medford.
Five Guys is considered a “fast-casual” restaurant, a trend that is proving to be increasingly popular nationwide. Other fast-casual restaurants include Panera Bread, Chipotle, Panda Express and Jersey Mike’s.
“The expectation is that these places are a tier above fast food. They offer made-to-order counter service without a drive-thru,” Alexander said.
Any excitement over Five Guys coming to Douglas County will likely be tempered by the time it will take to get the restaurant up and running. Even if everything falls into place and the development process goes smoothly, it will probably be at least 18 months before the restaurant is serving any customers, Johnson said.