Monday, January 26, 2009

Best of What's New - Boston

Five Guys was named "Best of What's New" in Boston by the Globe -- here is the text of the article:

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

There's no better place to satisfy a burger craving than Five Guys, and (finally!) two have opened locally, in Dedham and Foxborough. Started in a suburb of Washington, D.C., the rapidly expanding fast-food franchise will quickly have you falling for the juicy, greasy stacks. Single and double burgers are made to order (but they're always well done), and you pick from 15 classic toppings."

There are many burger places around the Boston area, so this honor is a great accomplishment for Five Guys.

Our franchise group is looking forward to getting our first store open shortly -- construction starts next week -- and to getting our second store signed up. Looks like there will be another award sign we can put on the wall...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ready to Start Construction

Tomorrow morning we are meeting with Brian Abbey from DCM, who will be our GC for our Marlborough store opening. Last week, Marc and I spent several hours with Five Guys' construction guru Brian Gill going through every inch of the architectural plans and kicking off ordering. Basically, we order the equipment and then Brian and his crew are responsible for receiving and of course installing it all.

The franchise-restaurant equipment list creation is pretty systematic and pretty painful, and that's even if your architect has labeled things very clearly on the drawings. Most don't. Basically, Brian (or your favorite frachisor) goes through the architectural blueprints inch by inch to come up with what we need to order. For us, this includes:

- grills
- fryers and fry baskets (one set for blanched fries -- blanching is key to great fries)
- walk in coolers
- refrigeration systems
- shelving
- tables and the "15 minute" chairs, thus named because you don't want to spend more than that sitting on them
- legs for the tables (yes, these are a separate order)
- soda dispensers and icemakers
- work stations
- kitchen utensils, including fry cutters and grill accessories
- ketchup dispensers
- POS (point of sale) system

If this doesn't sound fun, it's not. Each has its own set of vendors, none of which supply credit of any kind, in this or any other type of financing environment. 5 Guys has approved (or owns) most of these vendors, but in some cases, is changing its mind week-by-week on what constitutes an "approved" order. For example: we had to get approval for our fry basket order and were informed by 'corporate' that the certain type of fry basket we were instructed to by is actually NOT approved by TRAINING or OPERATIONS (their capitalization, not mine). And you thought the TSA was hard to deal with.

Luckily BB&T, our financing partner, is making paying for these items as simple as possible by pre-funding invoices as we send them. This is better than the usual standoff between waiting for things to arrive before they get funded, but not being able to order anything without 100% cash up front. How is someone supposed to run a business that way? It makes you wonder how anyone who doesn't already have credit can start a business in this environment.

So after a lot of hard work, we are ready to roll on construction. For posterity's sake, here are a few pictures of what the site looks like before we begin construction. I have also included a few pictures of the signage both on the strip center's main sign, and in the window.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Calorie counts

It's been reported recently that Massachusetts is considering having "major" chains post calorie information for their products. New York City does this already, which is why I know that the tasty Starbucks iced lemon loaf is really, really bad for you. I can wolf this thing down in about a minute, packing in 450 fat-rich calories and little or no nutrition.

In case you haven't seen it, here is a link to that article (sorry that it's pasted in - Blogger is giving me problems right now):

In a related note, McDonald's apparently has been working behind the scenes to convince moms that its food actually isn't that bad for kids. Kids love McDonald's, obviously; my kids already know, even though they are only 5 and we never go to McDonald's, that their colors are red and yellow. Whenever we play Uno, they tell us so ("Dad! I only have McDonald's colors). But Moms are the so-called "gatekeeper" that prevent their kids from going to McDonald's, so the restaurant chain's challenge is to get them bought in. The Washington Post had this story on their front page earlier this week.

I don't know if Five Guys can be considered a "major' chain since in Massachusetts there are literally 2 stores open. But here's one thing I do know: Five Guys is not health food. We all know this. The difference between Five Guys and other chains, however, is that we don't pretend it is. I've heard our Director of Franchise Development (McGuire - he's the white-suited guy in the Phantom Gourmet clip) announce this at ICSC events to wild cheers. We don't serve 1,000 calorie Asian Chicken salads. We don't sell "all white meat" Chicken McNuggets that have even more saturated fat than a Big Mac. We sell burgers and fries and they are not going to help you lose weight.

However, they are high-quality, award-winning products with legions of loyal customers. Giving these customers visibility into calorie counts, if that's what we are asked to do, is a part of the privilege of winning their business. It doesn't worry me much. I know all about the Starbucks lemon loaf and ate one only this past Tuesday. And it was delicious.