Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Five Guys could become seven

Franchise owner has big plans for city

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Its first outlet has only been open a little more than a week, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries already has at least two more in the works.

The local real estate agent who has been handling its leasing arrangements in Manitoba said the Utah-based consortium of investors that owns the master franchise rights for Five Guys restaurants in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec (except Montreal) also has leased a 2,600-square-foot space in a newly built strip mall at 2425 Pembina Hwy.

And it has a third premises under contract, said Michelle Constant, a retail-leasing specialist with the Winnipeg office of Cushman & Wakefield.

Constant, who also negotiated the lease for a Five Guys restaurant that opened two years ago in Brandon, said the investment group hopes to open up to seven outlets in Winnipeg.

She said it hopes to have the Pembina Highway location up and running before the end of the summer, and the third -- she wouldn't say where it will be -- operational before Christmas.

The Virginia-based chain's first Winnipeg store is a 2,400-square-foot outlet that opened June 10 in Crossroads Village Shopping Centre at 1579 Regent Ave.

Constant said the other areas of the city the group is looking at include Polo Park, west Portage Avenue, St. Vital and north Winnipeg. She wouldn't speculate on how long it might take to hit its target of seven outlets.

"It's all opportunity based -- when the right locations become available. But they have the ability to act pretty quickly (when they do)," she said.

Five Guys, which has been described as the fastest-growing burger chain in the United States, was originally expected to enter the Winnipeg market in the spring of last year. Constant said it took longer than expected, because a 600-square-foot addition had to be built onto the Regent Avenue outlet and they had to wait until the Pembina Highway strip mall was built.

Five Guys was started in 1986 by Jerry and Janie Murrell. It's named after their five sons, who are all in the business, and now boasts more than 1,000 outlets in the United States and Canada.

The chain was in headlines when, shortly after moving into the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama made an impromptu stop at a Five Guys' restaurant in Washington to buy lunch for his staff and some members of the media.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 16, 2012 B7

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