The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 11, 2014

Wally Kennedy: Cold doesn't stop fans of Five Guys

JOPLIN, Mo. — At 11 a.m. last Monday, four guys were standing outside of the doors to the new Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 1801 S. Range Line Road. They would be the first to enter a minute later.

It was about 2 degrees outside while they were waiting.

Cold? What cold? It was simply a minor inconvenience for them. They knew they were seconds away from getting their cold hands on some hot fries and a tasty burger.

I arrived one hour later and would be customer No. 64. And people thought I was crazy to venture out in the cold for a burger and fries. By the time of my departure, customer No. 96 was being called to pick up an order.

My first impression of Five Guys is that it rocks — literally. You know you’re off to a good experience when you walk through the door and hear music by Paul McCartney followed by U2 and then Duane Allman. Talk about eclectic. The music was punctuated by the staff yelling “two in the door’’ or “four in the door’’ when someone walked into the restaurant. And then there was the guy who was calling out the numbers. I haven’t heard numbers called out with such force since I was on the scrimmage line at Junge Field.

The owner of this franchise, Jeff Offutt, made sure the opening, no matter how cold it was outside, would be warm and memorable inside. The staff had two weeks of training for the opening. They were on their game.

I ordered a burger with a single patty. Five Guys has 15 or so toppings. This is the key to success for your burger, so choose wisely. For my toppings, I chose mayo, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and jalapenos. To go with that, I got some fries and a regular drink. The total with tax came to $8.28.

The fries were perfect. They cook them in zero-cholesterol peanut oil. They came in a paper cup that overflowed in a brown paper bag. The hamburger, which was wrapped in foil, would have been perfect if I had ordered grilled jalapenos instead of fresh ones. Silly boy. What was I thinking? Grilling jalapenos for about 20 seconds really brings out their flavor and takes a little of the edge off the heat. But considering how cold it was outside, the raw ones got the job done.

There is method to the madness at Five Guys. You can get a hot dog or veggie sandwich there, but most people go for the burger. So when they say “two in the door,” the cook knows to throw a couple of patties on the grill. They take four minutes or so to cook. By the time the customer has ordered and has received a pickup number, the cooking is almost done. It’s a nifty system.

Our new Five Guys is No. 1,190 in the franchise. It is one of only 30 or so that are free-standing buildings. Most of them are in shopping centers. Five Guys is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Five Guys does not have a drive-through window. It’s one way to ensure that every customer gets piping hot fries.

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