It’s been a week since Five Guys opened in the Old Brewery Quarter, Cardiff, attracting attention from both the public and the press. When we visited the new burger restaurant a few days after it opened, it was jam-packed – we were lucky to get a table!
This is the 24th Five Guys restaurant to open in the UK, with two further restaurants opening soon in Greater London and another due to open in Glasgow (Braehead).
The story behind Five Guys
Five Guys began in Washington, DC in 1986 when Jerry and Janie Murrell gave their four young sons a choice: start a business, or go to college. The boys chose the business path and the family opened a takeaway burger joint in Arlington, Virginia. They served only hand-formed burgers, cooking them under a grill and serving them with freshly cut fries cooked in pure peanut oil. The small burger joint grew popular very quickly, with customers voting the burger ‘#1’ in the metro area.
The family continued to improve the restaurant right through to the 1990s, providing customers with an almost endless list of toppings to bulk up their burgers. Then, a fifth brother was born and as the family grew, so did the business; Jerry and Janie opened a further 4 restaurants to cater for customers.
In 2003, Jerry, Janie and the five ‘guys’ began offering franchise opportunities and sold options for over 300 units in less than 18 months.
Today, more than 20 years after Five Guys first opened, there are over 1,000 restaurants worldwide and over 1,500 units in development.
The ordering experience
To order your food, you wait in a queue and pay at a till before collecting a ticket to take to the collection point at the right of the tills. You can also order food online for collection from Five Guys, which is definitely a good idea if you’re visiting the Cardiff restaurant any time soon, as it’s new to the area and tends to get very busy.
The serving staff are really passionate and knowledgeable about the Five Guys brand, including the history of the business and the menu. The menu includes burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, fries, soft drinks (just about every kind you could think of), milkshakes and several alcoholic beverages (namely Budweiser, Brooklyn Lager and Corona). Simple, yet effective.
As you wait to collect your order, you can watch your food being prepared in the open plan kitchen. All food is prepared fresh daily, right down to the beef patties, which are made using only freshly rolled, stamped prime beef. This is why you won’t find any freezers in Five Guys restaurants, only fridges – nothing is ever frozen.
Within about 7 minutes, our order was ready and we went to find somewhere to sit (easier said than done!)
Having found an empty table in the outside dining area, we sat down and eagerly unwrapped our foil-covered burgers, tearing open our brown paper bags to get to our fries.
I ordered a cheeseburger (£8) with regular fries (£4). You can add as many toppings as you like, free of charge; I chose lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, relish and mustard. Wedged between a soft, sesame seed bap were two handmade meaty patties, each with plenty of bite, served with two thick slices of fresh tomato and crisp lettuce leaves.
The patties were cooked to perfection and had that delicious, smoky taste common to grilled food, while the cheese was placed in between each patty, allowing it to melt with the heat of the burger.
However, there was definitely room for improvement. Although the burger tasted fantastic, it looked slightly squashed when I unwrapped it from its foil and by the time I’d finished eating it, the bap was so soggy that it was almost falling apart. This was a little disappointing – if you pay £12 for a cheese burger and fries, you expect it to be amazing.