Make us your home page

Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries popping up in Pinellas

Lowell Stange spots a bacon cheeseburger and fries as he waits for his order at the new Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times Lowell Stange spots a bacon cheeseburger and fries as he waits for his order at the new Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries.

Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries is staking a claim in Pinellas County — all of it.

Virginia businessman John Nguyen is bringing the popular restaurant, noted for its burgers and fries, to shopping centers and plazas throughout the county.

He opened the first restaurant recently at the Shoppes at Park Place in Pinellas Park. The second restaurant opened Feb. 20 at 3700 Ulmerton Plaza on Ulmerton Road near Largo. An April opening is planned for the third in a building that already displays the Five Guys name in large letters at Westside Center on Walsingham Road in Largo.

Nguyen is also planning two restaurants in St. Petersburg — Shoppes at the Royale in the Tyrone area and the Progress Energy Tower — and one in East Lake in North Pinellas.

He said he expects to open about 18 branches in Pinellas County during the next five or six years.

"We plan to hit the main arteries in Pinellas and then branch out to the beaches," said Melisa French, an independent Clearwater broker who assists Nguyen and other franchisees in Pasco, Hillsborough and Sarasota counties in finding restaurant sites. "We want to cover the market, but we don't want to saturate it."

• • •

The Five Guys menu hasn't budged in more than 20 years.

It features burgers with all the trimmings, fries, kosher hot dogs and veggie or grilled cheese sandwiches. Nothing is frozen and everything is prepared fresh each day. Even the buns are baked in-house.

Customers can munch on free peanuts while waiting for their orders and Coca-Cola drinks are available.

All the restaurants have red and white checkered tile on the walls and are decorated with copies of news stories and customer quotes. Customers can eat in or take out. The restaurants don't have drive-through windows and don't deliver.

• • •

Here's how it began.

When Jerry and Janie Murrell's three oldest sons — Chad, Jim and Matt — were about to graduate from high school, the couple offered them two choices. They could use the money set aside for them for college or they could use it to start a small hamburger and fries business. They took the money and became "Five Guys," including their younger brothers Ben and Tyler in the name.

The first Five Guys restaurant opened in 1986 in Arlington, Va. It developed a cult following and, after winning awards, the young entrepreneurs had enough capital to launch several more restaurants in northern Virginia. They began to franchise in late 2002.

Today, there are 249 restaurants in 18 states. All but 30 are franchises, said Molly Catalano, who is Five Guys' public relations manager. "We're already in Wisconsin and we're planning to open locations this year in Colorado, Missouri, Texas and California," she said.

Franchisees pay $45,000 for the rights to the franchise, Catalano said, and then invest $250,000 to $600,000 to open their restaurants.

The company's corporate headquarters is in Lorton, Va., and all seven members of the Murrell family still work in the business, Catalano said.

"There's always room for more burger restaurants," she said. "We're able to fill a niche and people seem to like us."

• • •

Nguyen ate his first hamburger at a Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries restaurant two years ago. It changed his life.

"I happened to walk into one of the restaurants in Virginia," he said. "It was so good. I've tried many burgers, but Five Guys is the best."

The businessman enjoyed the burger so much he decided to buy a franchise. He was impressed not only by the runaway success of the business, but the simplicity of the menu, the quality of the product and the friendly atmosphere.

"I thought I cannot go wrong if I join Five Guys," Nguyen said.

Christina K. Cosdon can be reached at or (727) 445-4154.


Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries

Where: 3700 Ulmerton Plaza (across from Stoneybrook Drive and the old Airco golf course).

Call: (727) 573-2500.

Hours: Store hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Prices: from $4.19 to $5.19 for large burgers, $2.99 for small ones and $2.79 for the hot dogs. Fries are $3.89 for a large portion, $2.29 for a regular size.

.IF you go

Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries

Where: 3700 Ulmerton Plaza (across from Stoneybrook Drive and Airco golf course)

Call: (727) 573-2500

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week

Prices: $4.19 to $5.19 for large burgers, $2.99 for small ones and $2.79 for hot dogs. Fries are $3.89 for a large portion, $2.29 for a regular size.

Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries popping up in Pinellas 02/28/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:19am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay home prices still soaring amid tight supply

    Real Estate

    But despite Tampa Bay recording its most expensive residential sale ever — $11.18 million for Clearwater's fabled Century Oaks estate — there were signs that the pace of price increases may be slowing just a bit for single-family homes.

    The historic Century Oaks estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor has sold for $11.18 million, the most ever paid for a home in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy: Coastal Properties Group]
  2. These days, don't hit the theme park without an app and a phone charger


    Emile Crawford stocks two back-up phone battery chargers these days when she takes her kids to Disney World. But she dare not venture into a theme park without a smart phone app, an accessory becoming as necessary as sunscreen in Florida theme parks.

    A wristband visitors will wear at the new Volcano Bay water park in Orlando, Florida. The wristband, called Tapu Tapu, tells you when it's your turn to get on a ride. It also lets you pay for food so you don't have to carry a wallet and opens lockers so you don't have to  carry a key. (Universal via AP)
  3. James Cameron, Zoe Saldana and more appear at Disney's Pandora


    ORLANDO — As he stood on a stage at Disney World Wednesday, director James Cameron revealed his teenage dreams.

    Zoe Saldana tweeted a photo of herself from Wednesday's appearance at a new land in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Pandora -- the World of Avatar. The land is based on James Cameron film, in which she stars. Photo via Twitter.
  4. Parent of struggling DeVry University is changing its name to Adtalem


    Associated Press

    DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — The company that owns one of the nation's largest for-profit college chains is changing its name.

    This 2009 photo shows the entrance to the DeVry University in Miramar, Fla. DeVry Education Group, which owns DeVry University, announced Wednesday that it will now be called Adtalem Global Education. 
[Associated Press file photo]

  5. New DEP secretary says there's no conflict in political side businesses


    TALLAHASSEE — When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state's top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying …

     Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He will take the helm on June 5, with a salary of $150,000 per year. [Florida Governor's Office]