In spite of all the negative pressures on beef demand – sluggish economy, high beef prices, unwarranted negative publicity – Americans still love a good burger.
Case in point: Forbes this week lists Five Guys Burgers and Fries as America’s fastest growing restaurant chain. Five Guys, in case you are not familiar, is part of the “better burger” category of fast-casual restaurants. These restaurants feature burgers that aim to be a step up – in quality and in price – from those offered at fast-food restaurants. According to the Forbes article, Five Guys has 1,039 stores in the U.S. and Canada with another 1,500 committed for building. Since 2006 the company has grown 792 percent. The entire chain, including sales at franchises, will surpass $1 billion in revenues this year, up from $950 million last year. (Overall, McDonald’s remains by far the biggest chain of restaurants, with $34 billion in U.S. sales in 2011.)
Five Guys leads the better-burger pack, but the entire category is a hot trend in the restaurant world. A Business Insider article last week titled “8 'Better Burger' Chains Poised to Conquer America” lists up-and-coming chains that each put their own spin on our favorite lunch.
In addition to Five Guys, their list includes:
- The Counter – Custom-built burgers in nine states, with 22 percent sales growth last year.
- The Habit Burger Grill – Char-broiled burgers with 41 percent sales growth last year, primarily in California and Arizona.
- Farmer Boy’s – Known for huge portion sizes, primarily in California
- Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers – Kansas-based chain with a 1950’s theme and 41 percent sales growth last year.
- Smasburger – They start with a round ball of fresh beef and smash it on a hot grill to sear the surface. Only open since 2007, the chain now has 143 stores and last year saw 71 percent sales growth last year.
- In-N-Out Burger – This popular West Coast chain has resisted expansion into other areas, but recorded $500 million in sales last year.
- Culver’s – This Wisconsin-born chain now serves its signature “Butterburgers” in 444 stores across much of the nation.
So check some of these better-burger chains out when you have a chance, and help build beef demand. Is it lunchtime yet?