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Five Guys Burgers and Fries piles it on in downtown St. Petersburg

Shawn Johnson, 27, of St. Petersburg, right, eats at Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Thursday, his first time in the restaurant. He smelled the food while driving downtown and decided to try it with his 7-year-old daughter, Zhanterria Burrows, center.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times\uFEFF

Shawn Johnson, 27, of St. Petersburg, right, eats at Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Thursday, his first time in the restaurant. He smelled the food while driving downtown and decided to try it with his 7-year-old daughter, Zhanterria Burrows, center.

ST. PETERSBURG

The wait is finally over.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a national chain of hamburger, hot dog and french fry restaurants, opened its new location at Progress Energy Tower on First Avenue N.

The chain doesn't call itself a health food store, and for good reason. But the food is all fresh, the fries are homemade and the meat is never frozen.

"Everything here is prime quality," said Les Pentz, manager of the fourth chain site established in Pinellas County. "We cut the fries ourselves right here in the store, and our buns have a five-day shelf life."

Customers receive their orders in plain, grease-spotted paper bags. French fry orders pour out of the cardboard containers meant for them and are often too large for just one person to consume.

A regular size cheeseburger at Five Guys features not one, but two 3.3-ounce beef patties smothered in melted American cheese. There's an option to add bacon for a real heart-stopping pleasure.

For less ambitious diners, Five Guys offers a "little bacon cheeseburger" featuring just one full-size meat patty with a bun, cheese and bacon. That "little" burger packs a punch of about 690 little calories. Add another 280 calories for the regular-size burger.

But who's counting, anyway? We didn't even get started on toppings.

"We offer lots of free toppings, and you can add an unlimited amount," said Pentz. "There's sauteed mushrooms, green peppers, onions, jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, relish, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, steak sauce, ketchup and mustard." Some customers like to order their burgers with the works — as many toppings squished in between the two buns as possible.

As for hot dogs, Five Guys serves kosher Hebrew Nationals on which customers can add an unlimited number of toppings as well. A popular choice is a hot dog topped with melted American cheese and bacon.

Besides being a binger's paradise, the new Five Guys hopes to add to downtown's nightlife.

"We're thinking of serving some draft beer, adding a few tables outside and maybe even having some live music play on the weekends," Pentz said. "We'd be the first Five Guys to have live music."

Right now plans are in the works to have 18 total chain sites in Pinellas County, with a new restaurant soon to open at Tyrone Boulevard and 66th Street.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries piles it on in downtown St. Petersburg 10/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 2:52pm]
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