Established in 1986 and with 1,200 locations worldwide, burger chain Five Guys is not only leading the gourmet burger boom but building a cult-like following around the globe in the process. That includes the UK, where the US-based chain has wasted no time in rolling out a string of high street-based stores since striking a partnership with British entrepreneur and Carphone Warehouse founder Sir Charles Dunstone.
In just 24 short months of UK trading, the company has opened 28 restaurants, while its maiden Covent Garden site is reportedly one of its highest grossing stores in the world. Research firm Horizons named Five Guys the fastest growing brand by store unit in a recent survey of the foodservice landscape, noting that it has ambitions to eventually operate 175 to 200 UK sites. That’s a lot of potential kitchen projects, as Jonathan Cope, head of construction at Five Guys UK, knows only too well. Five Guys reinvented the traditional QSR burger model by embracing open kitchens and placing them at the heart of its operation. As a result, they dictate the viability of every potential site, explains Jonathan. “We only have two types of kitchen layouts — if we can’t make them work in a potential new site, we don’t do the site. Kitchen is king — we don’t compromise on our kitchen layout.”
Jonathan is no stranger to the lay of the land in the UK fast-service restaurant market having previously worked at GBK, Gondola and Nando’s in project roles. Freshly-prepared food and customised burgers (there are 250,000 possible combinations of toppings to order at Five Guys) are part of its USP and as a result you’ll never find freezers, microwaves or can openers in its kitchens. Efficiency is the order of the day.
With regards to new equipment, any changes are generally innovation-led rather than spec changes, notes Jonathan. “We are currently looking into a new prep sink that will save water usage and produce more consistent fries,” he says. “I don’t want to say too much as it’s early days, but it is in testing.”
“We only have two types of kitchen layouts — if we can’t make them work in a potential new site, we don’t do the site”