Phil Surico and Adam Willets started out working side by side on Wall Street as stock traders who had a dream to start up the kind of business in which they could have more day-to-day involvement.
“We started as traders on the New York Stock Exchange,” Surico said – but it was a precarious and uncertain future, filled with the fears of sudden rises or falls. Both men thought they were young enough to get in on the ground floor of some business venture that would be more stable.
“We wanted something to take pride in as business owners,” Willets said. “We figured a franchise is the right thing for us.”
“We see Bayonne as a good opportunity for us.” – Adam Willets
They currently own Five Guys franchise stores in Hoboken, downtown Jersey City, and North Bergen.
Both men had gone to school in the Washington, D.C., area, and were well aware of how much of a local legend Five Guys was in that part of the country. Not to mention that both men were big fans of the food. So when they learned that the company was offering franchises in the New York area, they jumped on it.
Five Guys is unique as a fast food chain for a number of reasons, one being that they limit their menu.
“Five Guys follows the philosophy of focusing on a few items, and serving them to the best of our ability,” Surico said.
Five Guys only serves burgers cooked well done, and the beef they buy requires the suppliers to treat the cattle humanely and follow all the procedures set forth by the USDA.
There are no microwaves or freezers at the store because everything must be as fresh as possible, including the bread, which is shipped in daily from regional bakeries. The Idaho potatoes are also freshly cut, and fried twice in peanut oil.
Since the food is cooked fresh, customers may have to wait a little longer than they would in another fast food place, so the store gives them peanuts to munch on while they wait.
You can customize your burger or hot dog with a choice of 15 free toppings, ranging from the usual — catsup, mustard, and relish — to jalapeños, hot sauce, or grilled mushrooms.
Named for five sons
Five Guys was founded in the mid-1980s by Janie and Jerry Murrell, who named it for their five sons. Their formula for success: a simple, virtually minimalist menu of freshly prepared food, served at nearly the speed of a fast food establishment.
They grill their burgers to order, with meat that’s never frozen, and serve them on fresh buns with a choice of almost a dozen free toppings. They’ve since expanded into a nationwide franchise.
Located at the Bayonne Crossing Mall on Route 440 near the New Hook entrance, Five Guys hopes to draw from many of the people doing business with some of the other stores there, including the recently opened Lowe’s Home Improvement Center, and was funded partly from loans through the Hudson County Economic Development Council and BCB Community Bank.
The two men see Bayonne and Five Guys as a natural fit.
“This is a very blue collar town,” Surico said.
“We see Bayonne as a good opportunity for us,” Willets added, noting that unlike its stores in Jersey City and Hoboken, which largely rely on a walk-in crowd, the Bayonne store will draw from mall traffic.
Willets, who serves as the chief operating manager for the franchise, said the company will hire about 30 permanent employees, and those interested can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.