Fast Food Chains To Conquer America

Discussion in 'The Studio Lounge' started by Wolf, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. Wolf

    Wolf The Lone Wolf

    8 'Better Burger' Chains Poised to Conquer America

    The rise of fast casual has changed the fast food industry forever. Restaurant chains like Panera Bread are becoming as big as longstanding fast food stalwarts like Arby's and Domino's Pizza.

    Amongst the fast casual pack are a breed of upscale burger brands — generally known as "better burger" chains — which cost more, but are better quality. These specialty chains are taking off, led by the rapid ascent of Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

    We asked the folks at food industry research firm Technomic to figure out which "better burger" chains are spreading quickly across the country.

    The Counter

    Number of U.S. stores in 2011: 32
    % change: +23.1%

    The Counter Custom Built Burgers, founded in 2003, has over 312,120 unique burger combinations for customers to choose from in restaurants that span nine states and three continents.

    The restaurant is known for its fresh, creative toppings and ordering style — customers are handed a clipboard when they walk in where they can choose everything from the type of bun to the sauce and cheese.

    In the last year, The Counter saw a 22.4 percent rise in sales, generating $60 million, and now has over 30 locations open nationwide.

    The Habit Burger Grill

    Number of U.S. stores in 2011: 46
    % change: +39.4%

    This west coast-based chain has made quite a name for itself in California and Arizona but has yet to expand east.

    The Habit Burger Grill is best known for its smokey flavored charbroiled burgers, friendly service, and, more recently, for its sleek black Habit Truck that die-hard fans can rent out for parties and events.

    In the last year, sales at The Habit skyrocketed by a whopping 41.1 percent and it raked in $59 million, making it a tough competitor in the emerging fast food burger chain industry.

    Freddy's Frozen Custard And Steakburgers

    Number of U.S. stores in 2011: 58
    % change: +26.1%

    This Kansas-based burger chain is named after WWII veteran Freddy Simon and is famous for its 1950s style atmosphere, all-beef steakburgers, and creamy frozen custard.

    Since it's start in 2002 in Wichita, Freddy's has expanded to 20 states, and last year the company saw an astonishing 40.7 percent increase in sales. Sales exceeded $70 million.

    Farmer Boys

    Number of U.S. stores in 2011: 68
    % change: +7.9%

    Farmer Boys opened its first restaurant in 1981 in Perris, California but didn't increase in popularity until the late 90s.

    Known for its gigantic portion sizes, classic onion rings, burgers, and breakfasts, Farmer Boys continues to expand all over California and into Nevada.

    It saw a 0.5 percent increase in sales last year and made more than $95 million.


    Number of U.S. stores in 2011: 143
    % change: +53.8%

    Smashburger was founded in 2007 by the guy who thought up the stuffed crust pizza and McGriddles, Tom Ryan.

    It was originally named IconBurger, but the management team eventually changed the name to more appropriately describe how they actually create their burgers — smashing them into a grill with a metal plate.

    The chain is killing it right now. A 71 percent surge in sales last year generated upwards of $118 million for Smashburger.

    In-N-Out Burger

    Number of U.S. stores in 2011: 266
    % change: +5.6%

    In-N-Out Burger has positively exploded on the west coast in the last 30 years but remains relatively small in terms of unit size and geographic location. Unlike its competitors, the company has actively resisted expansion, choosing to focus its energy to quality products and customer rapport.

    In-N-Out has hundreds of units but it's still only present in five states. In the last year, the burger joint known for its Double Double and irresistible grilled onions, saw a 5.5 percent increase which brought it to $500 million in sales.


    Number of U.S. stores in 2011: 444
    % change: +4.7%

    Culver's first opened its doors in 1984 in Suak City, Wisconsin and has since gone on to establish hundreds of restaurants that span as far west as Arizona and as far east as Ohio.

    Known best for its ButterBurger, named for the lightly toasted and buttered bun, and for its fresh frozen custard, this family-owned business saw sales increase 8.5 percent to $747 million last year.

    Five Guys Burgers And Fries

    Number of U.S. stores in 2011: 918
    % change: +24.7%

    Five Guys Burgers and Fries got its start in Alexandria, Virginia in the late 1980s when four brothers decided to open a burger joint instead of going to college. It's best known for its creative toppings and prides itself on having over 250,000 unique burger combinations.

    As the business gained popularity and brother number five was born, units began popping up in some 40+ states. Last year, Five Guys saw a 33 percent increase in sales nationwide, earning a total of $950 million.

    It's now the ninth largest burger chain overall (by revenue) in America.
  2. hyson

    hyson Forum Jerk

    I've only heard of, and been to, a 5-Guys. And that was in either DE or MD.
  3. Wolf

    Wolf The Lone Wolf

    I have Smashburger, In-N-Out, Culver's and Five Guys within a few miles of me and just discovered there a Freddy's now open as well. I love In-N-Out and haven't been to Five Guys in months, I still plan on trying Culver's and Smashburger one day.
  4. hyson

    hyson Forum Jerk

    :agree: :bigclap:

    You're the best!
  5. Wolf

    Wolf The Lone Wolf

    You just messed with my words! :bigahh:
  6. dlnester

    dlnester Active Member

    Since I live in Kansas I've had Freddy's and it is great! They are actually building one next door to my place... that should be detrimental to my diet. 5-Guys is across the street along with Smash Burger, and Culver's is about 2 miles away. We don't have any of the rest. Out of the above, I pick Freddy's as the best.
  7. MadisonRadio1

    MadisonRadio1 MadisonRadio

    I used to like to get the $7 Cod dinner at Culver's. They also have good salads in addition to the ButterBurgers. Badger Hockey ticket holders get free custard when the Badgers score 5 goals. Very clean upkeep too.

    I haven't been to the others but they all sound wonderful.
  8. TOM C.

    TOM C. Member

    I do restaurant cooking equipment repairs, and I can tell you here in my area that 5 Guys are the cleanest chain restaurant I work in. One store is going on 5 years and is as clean is any place brand new. We have 6 store total and all are as clean. Cost a lot, but clean. And the burgers are pattyed out every morning and the fries were potatoes that morning.
  9. semipenguin

    semipenguin Cheeseburger Connoisseur

    I've stopped earring beef, but Whataburger needs to grow, too...

    Sent from my HTC EVO 4G using Tapatalk 2.0 :)
  10. JHDK

    JHDK Release Robin's Bra

    ive heard of in and out and been to a 5 guys a few times. yes they are clearly better burgers than the normal fast food joint.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
  11. Wolf

    Wolf The Lone Wolf

    I been to WhatABurger couple of times this year and the beef taste dry, I doubt I will probably go to one again.
  12. Wolf

    Wolf The Lone Wolf

    If you ever want to In & Out Burger, you have to come to the west coast. Because they are family own, which is good and not operated by a corporation.
  13. kingchuck69

    kingchuck69 Joker! Joker! Joker!

    I have both Culver's and Smashburger a few miles from my place and they can kick Mickey D's ass any day.
  14. Andrew8468

    Andrew8468 Plans on freezing in the dark

    I have none of the above close to me. There is a 5 Guys in Oshawa between my home and job
  15. JHDK

    JHDK Release Robin's Bra

    so the majority of us agree that these chains make a much better burger. so whats the secret? w/5 guys i know i like how the patties are more juicy. but the bread/bun does suffer for that. also they are great cause their normal burger is a double. u gotta ask for a single patty. i know that may make me sound like a fat ass but it is better that way. also the toppings are first notch compared to any of the huge places. they just seem crispier and fresher. worth the extra 2-3 bucks and the no drive through.

    so whats the deal...what do they do so much better?

    cause 5 guys does take like an extra 15-20 mins out of my day to get on on the way to/post work.
  16. hyson

    hyson Forum Jerk

    Does anyone else notice that all the burger/fast food avatars have yellow in them?

    Marketing thing?
  17. Wolf

    Wolf The Lone Wolf

    I just notice that now, yea even these other fast food chains use yellow:

    Burger King
    Taco Bell

    So does yellow mean something?
  18. sbv71

    sbv71 Well-Known Member

    Freddy's Frozen Custard just opened for business a few weeks ago about 30 miles from my hometown. Haven't been there yet. I guess they're similar to Culver's burgers with their buttered burger buns. Culver's is really good too...
  19. memebag

    memebag Top Brass, ADVP

    Yellow means pee. And red means blood. Mmmmm.
  20. hyson

    hyson Forum Jerk

    Yellow makes me hungry. Shit...

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