Exclusive: Five Guys to open their famous burger joint in Abu Dhabi
Good news for burger lovers. The popular American burger chain Five Guys is finally coming to the capital. It will open in Marina Mall this spring.
Five Guys is a family business that started in 1986 when Jerry and Janie Murrell told their four sons to “start a business or go to college.” The boys opted for a business and, with the guidance of their parents, launched a takeaway burger joint in Arlington, Virginia in the US (A fifth son was later born and is now also involved in the family business). That initial restaurant quickly gained attention and was beloved by people in the area. In 2003, Five Guys started franchising. There are now 1,300 locations around the world.
The menu is simple and it rarely changes, if ever. It includes burgers and hot dogs (halal in the UAE); grilled cheese sandwiches; veggie sandwiches; fries; and the restaurant’s famous customisable milkshake.
There are already two Five Guys restaurants in Dubai with a third on the way in Jumeirah Beach Residences. The one in Marina Mall will be the first in the capital. I caught up with Jerry Murrell on one of his recent visits to Dubai to learn more about the success and the future of Five Guys.
Did you ever imagine Five Guys would be what it is now?
My wife and I never thought the company would be this large. It is humbling and exciting at the same time. We set out to try a business idea and were excited when the restaurant was successful. We thought we were set when we had built five locations on our own. The rest has just been a bonus.
Your five sons are the current ‘Five Guys’. Are you still involved or do they handle most of the business?
Yes, our five sons are the Five Guys. Our sons have always run the restaurants and the business. They are all very much involved in the business as well as my wife and me. Our family is the reason we created this business. We love working together.
Why burgers? What took you down that path?
My mom always said if you could give a good hair cut or you could make a good burger, you could be successful. It is the simple things, so I figured if we could make a good burger we would be all right.
The menu is simple and straightforward. How important has that been to your success?
I think that is a very important part of why we have been able to grow. It takes a lot of time and people to focus on sourcing, prepping and cooking the few things we have. I cannot image having to put that much attention in more ingredients.
What can people expect when they walk into a Five Guys?
I hope that they expect to have fun. We want them to feel comfortable, welcome and relaxed.
Is it the same experience at a Five Guys in Washington as it is at a Five Guys in Dubai?
That is one of the really awesome things about seeing our company grow. Yes, the customers in Dubai have the same experience as our customers in Washington DC.
Will you ever add anything else to your menus or is this a menu that’s just too good to mess with?
Well, we added milkshakes. But, that took a lot of time and research. I don’t think we are looking to add anything and, if we did, we would only add it if our customers wanted it and we knew we could make the best item possible.
Why did you want to come to the Middle East?
Our growth, everywhere, has been fuelled 100 per cent by demand. Middle East consumers asked for us to come and we have found really great franchisees to run our restaurants here in the UAE and in other parts of the Middle East.
What are the expansion plans for the UAE?
This year, we plan on opening a few more locations in Dubai as well as locations in Abu Dhabi. Beyond that, we plan to grow as the demand grows in the country.
Updated: February 28, 2016 04:00 AM