2011-05-20 / Business

Five Guys bringing its burgers, fries to Simi

By Carissa Marsh

Renew your gym membership— Simi Valley is getting a new burger joint.

Five Guys, a Virginia-based purveyor of all-American fare, is set to open a new location at 2650 Tapo Canyon Road in July.

According to Molly Catalano, director of communications for Five Guys, corporate works with franchisees—in this case, Monument Restaurants LLC, based in Richmond, Va.—to find locations where the eatery would be a good addition. Simi fit the bill.

“They are looking for locations where they think Five Guys will be welcomed,” she said. “Where the demographics make sense and the foot traffic; making sure there are enough people in the area.”

Monument Restaurants already owns several Five Guys, including one in Culver City and a recently opened Valencia location, Catalano said. The website also shows they have Five Guys holdings in Alabama, Texas and Missouri. Although there are other franchisees in the California area, Catalano said Monument plans to open a total of 140 restaurants in the state.

While many would consider Five Guys fast food, Catalano said the restaurant actually fits into the “fast casual” segment.

“We have a high-quality product that is served relatively quickly. It’s not fast food because it’s prepared fresh, but it’s in a really casual atmosphere.”

Catalano said Five Guys has a small, streamlined menu so that it can focus on fresh, quality ingredients.

“Our concept is really simple. We focus on burgers and fries, and I think what differentiates us is our burgers are 100 percent customizable,” she said.

There are only four burgers on the menu: a hamburger, a bacon burger, a cheeseburger and a bacon cheeseburger. Each is offered in two sizes.

“(There’s) a regular hamburger and a little hamburger. Our regular hamburger actually has two patties and our little burger has one. They are not little by any means,” Catalano said, admitting that she’s never ordered a “regular” burger because it’s so large.

To jazz up the burger choices, customers can choose from 15 free toppings. There are the basics, such as mayo, mustard and ketchup, and a few unique options, like grilled mushrooms, jalapeno peppers and hot sauce.

“We also have hot dogs and you can have all the toppings on that. People really like that, that you can have so many toppings on a hot dog,” Catalano said. “But people really come for the burgers and fries.”

The fries are not typical for a fast-food restaurant. Cooked in 100 percent peanut oil, the thickcut spuds are served “boardwalk style.”

“They have a real baked potato like feel and quality inside,” Catalano said.

Five Guys is somewhat of an institution on the East Coast: President Barack Obama is known to frequent the eatery, whose devotees often draw comparisons with the cultlike following In-N-Out enjoys. Still, many out West are less familiar with Five Guys.

Catalano says that will soon change. Until August 2010, there were just two locations in California, she said. Since then, the brand has seen “ tremendous growth,” and there are now 25 Five Guys across the state.

Five Guys is excited to be in the California market, Catalano said.

“We think California consumers are really educated on burgers; there’s lots of great burgers in California already,” she said. “So we’re excited to be there and be part of the mix.”

For more information, visit www.fiveguys.com.

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