District Manager Jeff Mannion demonstrates the proper way to dress a burger during a training session.
District Manager Jeff Mannion demonstrates the proper way to dress a burger during a training session. ( JEREMY PAPASSO )

There's a new burger in town.

"I have no doubt we'll do well," says Jay Hefflon, Operations Manager of the Five Guys and Fries opening on the Hill Tuesday at 1143 13th St. "We're as fresh as it gets and our fries are gonna kill it.

"We get 'Best Burger' in every town we move to," says Hefflon, who works closely with Five Guys Boulder franchisee Robin Karst, owner of one Five Guys in Longmont and two in Fort Collins.

When the offer to open a Five Guys in Boulder was made to local real estate developer Michael Boyers, the Del Mar Interests manager was all ears, particularly as Boyers has owned Little Caesar, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchises in the past.

"It's about bringing in the best businesses I can," said Boyers. "I would prefer to work with local companies, but I'm open to any that sells a good product."

First opening its Arlington, Va., doors in 1986, Five Guys Burgers is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The restaurant remained a Virginia area mainstay with five restaurants -- one for each of the "five guys," the Murrell brothers who continue to operate the family-run company along with their father, Five Guys CEO Jerry Murrell -- until franchising in 2003.

Today, the chain boasts more than 600 locations in 40 states, with five restaurants in Canada.


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Boyers is well aware of Boulder's affinity for local/independent businesses. But he also says he's friendly with the folks at the Sink and that he's not worried about any real competition. Especially since Five Guys is not the same kind of sit-down restaurant as their locally beloved neighbor.

Rueben Verplank, owner of Boulder's year-old Rueben's Burger Bistro, agrees with Boyers' distinction.

Supervisor Tony Shellenbarger, right, shows employee Chris Ehlebracht, left, and other trainees the proper way to cook a french fry.
Supervisor Tony Shellenbarger, right, shows employee Chris Ehlebracht, left, and other trainees the proper way to cook a french fry. ( JEREMY PAPASSO )

"We offer a different kind of environment and product," says Verplank. "There's plenty of room in Boulder for everyone. The Hill's better off with businesses than with vacancies."

Richard Fleming, President of the Board of the Boulder County Independent Business Alliance, feels another corporate franchise like Five Guys moving into the Hill is symptomatic of a larger problem.

"The Hill is its own unique microcosm and I don't understand it," said Fleming. "It's not focused on small-town businesses. Having corporate entities moving in does not make for a sustainable local economy because those entities are not invested in that economy, or in area social and environmental concerns. They're interested in profit, not in community-building."

Knowing that brand loyalty is important to busy students looking to grab a quick bite between classes, Fleming says his goal now is "to figure out how to leverage CU into educating students on the importance of buying local."

In the meantime, Hefflon says Five Guys Boulder has already received a great reception.

"CU brings in kids from all over the country, some of whom have grown up on our burgers and are now excited that we're in town."