I took my kids to Five Guys tonight (Heidi had the night off). I've been hearing about Five Guys for a while now, and they just opened in Libertyville, about 15 minutes from my house, and one is opening in the spot where Ben and Jerry's used to be in Vernon Hills. I live my life in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger so I've been looking forward to this visit for a while.
What did I think? I guess the most important thing is that their most famous item, the cheeseburger, is fantastic. Their regular cheeseburger has two quarter pound patties (you have to get a "little cheeseburger" to only get one patty) and it's excellent. Great flavor. Moist. Lots of cheese. Even the sesame seed bun was good. The fries left me wanting, but I think it's because they were undercooked. I would like to see how they are on a second visit. I had a bite of my kids' hot dogs and those were also great. So the food was excellent.
What didn't I like? First, the price. I understand it's not McDonalds and I actually don't mind that a double cheeseburger is just under $6.00. But $3.39 for a hot dog? That's bordering on outrageous. And I'm not sure when we as a society decided that charging $2 for a fountain drink was normal. They proudly display that they offer free refills, but so does everyone (the notable exception being Portillo's). And as a parent, my feeling is that they desperately need some kind of kids' menu, as I am unlikely to return frequently to spend that much money on a hot dog for my 5 year old.
But it's clear that that isn't happening any time soon. I respect the fact that they keep their menu simple. It's hamburgers and hot dogs. No salads, no chicken...take it or leave it. And as their website boasts, they sell over 250K burgers daily, so plenty of people are taking it.
Finally, and this is my biggest beef (Get it? Beef? I'm killing), I CANNOT STAND the outrageous self-promotion screaming at you from every square inch of the store. As if the 8 x 10 articles from every publication imaginable lining the walls isn't enough, they have quotes from those articles in giant red and white posters about every two feet. "Voted Best Burger in Baltimore." "Heaven on a Bun." "Fries Alone are Not to Be Missed." Example from a picture from their website:
It feels like going on a date with someone who can't stop talking about herself. And she might even be genuinely attractive and funny and charming, but if all she does is talk about how everyone thinks she's so attractive and funny and charming, pretty soon, she loses all attraction, humor, and charm. You almost want to yell out: "We get it, we get it, you're pretty. People love you. Can I just eat my hamburger now?" It's honestly very offputting.
Will I go back? When my desire for a good cheeseburger outweighs my disdain for the self-promotion (and maybe on payday), yeah probably.