The Five Guys Burgers and Fries chain came to Ocean City, Md. just this summer but brought with it a reputation for quality food quickly. To make that happen, manager Karen Cathell said they start early. Staff comes to meet the truck that brings them their ground beef fresh daily. The place doesn’t have a freezer because if it’s not fresh it’s not served at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
To that end, in addition to fresh ground beef, produce and hand cut fries, Five Guys Burgers and Fries has its own bakery. Rolls are delivered from regional bakeries to ensure the product goes on a perfectly complimentary bun. That the rolls are fresh is kind of a given but juggling freshness and consistency is tricky.
Still every Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant serves the same menu with the same high quality. It’s like normal fast food in that you know precisely what to expect. It’s nothing like fast food in that it’s fresh and personally prepared with ingredients that have to meet an almost absurdly high standard.
When they arrive in the morning, in addition to weighing and patting out the day’s burgers, Five Guys Burgers and Fries staff gets busy slicing potatoes. Since french fries make up the bulk of their menu, like the burgers they take their selection and production very seriously.
With the first round of potatoes poised over a long sink filled with oil and the last of the prep cooks finishing up slicing the fresh toppings in the back, the fry cooks get psyched up for a busy afternoon. It’s part of a culture that promotes teamwork. Cranking out food is easy, but preparing fresh food cooked to order while keeping the waits to a minimum takes coordination as much as it takes enthusiasm.
Each of the nearly 500 stores is visited regularly by a secret shopper, if the food and the service are perfect the employees get a cash bonus. So rather than performing at a level that prevents them getting yelled at, the Five Guys Burgers and Fries employees perform at a level that could earn them extra cash.
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