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11 Flavorful Facts About Five Guys

The build-to-order burger chain has become one of the fastest growing franchises in the country, even while refusing to deliver or advertise. Check out what else has made this family company such a delicious success.

1. FUNDING FOR THE FIRST FIVE GUYS CAME FROM A COLLEGE SAVINGS ACCOUNT.

Five Guys' initial $70,000 in startup funds was meant to pay college tuition for Jerry and Janie Murrell's (at the time) four sons. They sensed their oldest children were on the fence about heading off to college, and the pair offered an alternative in 1986: using the tuition money to launch a family burger joint. Jerry Murrell, who now acts as Five Guys' CEO, has said the idea was about keeping his family together. "They weren't scholars ... I always liked having my kids around me, so I thought that was a good way to do it." That same year, the family launched the first Five Guys location in Arlington, Virginia.

2. THERE ARE REALLY SIX GUYS, NOT FIVE.

When the first Five Guys launched, Jerry Murrell and his four sons—Jim, Matt, Chad and Ben—made up the restaurant's namesake. But a year after opening for business, another son, Tyler, was born into the family. Jerry Murrell now says the Five Guys name references only his sons.

3. HAVE A PEANUT ALLERGY? FIVE GUYS IS YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE.

Five Guys fries all its food with 100% peanut oil, and offers complimentary bins of peanuts for customers to snack on while waiting for their order to come up. Five Guys does acknowledge its peanut-laden atmosphere with labels on its doors and asks customers to keep nuts within the restaurant to prevent causing possible reactions outside its doors. 

4. FIVE GUYS HOLDS FAST TO ITS 'NO DELIVERY' RULE—EVEN WITH THE PENTAGON. AND THE PRESIDENT.

Pentagon officials once called in a 15-burger order, expecting delivery. When Five Guys staff responded that the restaurant didn't deliver, Jerry Murrell received a direct phone call from a Pentagon higher up, contesting the restaurant policy. Five Guys took extra steps to ensure everyone knew about its "no delivery" provision: "Matt and I got a 22-foot-long banner that said ABSOLUTELY NO DELIVERY and hung it in front of our store. And then our business from the Pentagon picked up," Murrell said

5. MILKSHAKES AREN'T A STANDARD SIDE.

That's because (most) Five Guys restaurants don't have freezers due to the company's focus on fresh ingredients. Jerry Murrell said customers often ask about the menu addition, and with some push, Five Guys began testing milkshakes at some of its East Coast restaurants in 2014. Within the past year, milkshake test locations have spread to Five Guys locations in 37 states and Washington D.C.

6. THE 'SECRET HACK' MENU IS ALL ABOUT CHEESE.

While Five Guys is all about building a custom burger or hotdog, you can't get certain supposed 'secret menu' items at all locations. Double grilled cheese burgers and cheese fries aren't on the standard menu, but some locations are willing to put them together for you. Other locations won't honor the order, but you can make your dietary dreams come true by ordering the components and putting them together yourself. 

7. THE MURRELL FAMILY INITIALLY BUTTED HEADS ABOUT FRANCHISING.

The Five Guys chain is considered one of the fastest growing U.S. franchises—even extending into Canada and London. But, the idea of creating a chain wasn't well accepted among the family. Jerry Murrell said he was against a Five Guys franchise, and that his family successfully launched the chain with him "kicking and screaming." Apparently, Murrell family disagreements can get rowdy, so the Five Guys office features a soundproof meeting room to keep arguments contained. 

8. SHAQ OWNS 155 FIVE GUYS LOCATIONS.

In 2013, the former basketball player told an NCAA convention crowd that one of his main business investments included 155 Five Guys restaurants—that's 10 percent of all franchise locations.

9. FIVE GUYS TAKES ITS MAYO SERIOUSLY.

During product taste testing, the Five Guys family tried 16 kinds of mayonnaise before deciding on the right kind. Each location uses the same mayo—and all ingredients for that matter, down to bread that's baked fresh daily and trucked or flown to nearby restaurants.

10. A YOUTUBE VLOGGER LANDED HIS OWN TV SHOW BECAUSE OF HIS FIVE GUYS REVIEW.

Fast food reviewer Daymon Patterson, known online as Daym Drops, struck greasy gold with a review of Five Guys burgers. His 2012 video description of a Five Guys meal ("You bite the fry, the fry bites back!") landed him a Travel channel show highlighting fast food restaurants around the country. "Best Daym Takeout" lasted six episodes before being canceled.

11. CEO JERRY MURRELL'S FAVORITE BURGER IS PRETTY PLAIN.

You'd think the patriarch of Five Guys would have an all-out custom favorite, but Jerry Murrell's burger of choice is as tame as it gets: a plain cheeseburger. Out of the restaurant's 250,000 ways to make a burger, he'll sometimes spring for a plain burger with ketchup and mustard. But that's the beauty of having a built-to-order burger—there's no wrong way to order it.

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This Just In
Target Expands Its Clothing Options to Fit Kids With Special Needs
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Target

For kids with disabilities and their parents, shopping for clothing isn’t always as easy as picking out cute outfits. Comfort and adaptability often take precedence over style, but with new inclusive clothing options, Target wants to make it so families don’t have to choose one over the other.

As PopSugar reports, the adaptive apparel is part of Target’s existing Cat & Jack clothing line. The collection already includes items made without uncomfortable tags and seams for kids prone to sensory overload. The latest additions to the lineup will be geared toward wearers whose disabilities affect them physically.

Among the 40 new pieces are leggings, hoodies, t-shirts, bodysuits, and winter jackets. To make them easier to wear, Target added features like diaper openings for bigger children, zip-off sleeves, and hidden snap and zip seams near the back, front, and sides. With more ways to put the clothes on and take them off, the hope is that kids and parents will have a less stressful time getting ready in the morning than they would with conventionally tailored apparel.

The new clothing will retail for $5 to $40 when it debuts exclusively online on October 22. You can get a sneak peek at some of the items below.

Adaptive jacket from Target.
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Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

[h/t PopSugar]

All images courtesy of Target.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
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“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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