If you grew up in America, you were probably brought up on the concept of the American Dream – the idea that anything you put your mind to you can achieve. In a list of The 30 most American things ever… the American Dream is number two, beaten for the number one spot only by the Constitution itself. What this means is that you have a large population of people constantly trying to achieve their very best. In a different list of The Most American Things Ever, McDonald’s is number twenty-six. However, when you do a search for “burgers and fries,” the Five Guys website is the top result.
In the modern world, it’s taken for granted that an education is an essential part of success. Yet, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, “[t]he number of students projected to attend American colleges and universities in the fall of 2018 is 19.9 million.” Of course, not everyone chooses to pursue a college education. But that doesn’t mean those who don’t cannot achieve the American Dream. The origin story of one of America’s favorite burger joints is an inspiring testament to that.
As Jerry and Janie Murrell’s oldest two sons approached their college years, the couple realized that their children truly had no interest in subscribing to that particular American institution. So, rather than use the savings they had accumulated for their education, the Murrells proposed to their sons a different avenue: use the money to start up a business. As a result, Five Guys was born. The Murrell family opened up their first hamburger spot in 1986 in Arlington, Virginia.
Why is it Called Five Guys?
At first, according to Jerry Murrell, the story of the name went like this: “Our lawyer said, ‘You need a name.’ I had four sons… So I said, ‘How about Five Guys?’” Simple. Right? But, eventually, a fifth son was born, and so the namesake shifted entirely to the sons, who, to this day, are still involved in the running of the national chain, including the franchises.
Jim, Matt, Chad, Ben, and Tyler work every day to maintain the quality and integrity of their products and stores. Matt and Jim travel the country, visiting stores to ensure consistency. Chad is responsible for the training and the dependability of their employees’ work. Ben mans the franchises, and Tyler watches over the bakery side, where the recipe for their burgers’ buns have not changed since the beginning.
Truly, the Five Guys story is full of interesting anecdotes. They say, for instance, that around the opening of the store, they received a call from the Pentagon, requesting delivery of fifteen burgers. Having already decided that they would not – or could not – deliver, they turned the order down (from the Pentagon!) The story goes that a higher-up called shortly after to declare: “Mr. Murrell, everyone delivers food to the Pentagon.”
In response, the family purchased a 22-foot long banner that declared “ABSOLUTELY NO DELIVERY.” The most surprising part of this story, perhaps, is that this seemed to get the Pentagon’s attention and soon the institution was ordering regularly from the burger joint—pick-up only, of course. What other burger-and-fries chains can claim they are Pentagon approved?
Travis McDonald is a professional freelance writer who creates content for a wide variety of clients. He received his bachelor’s in English from The University of Texas at Austin and his MFA in creative writing from Virginia Tech.