The Good Burger vs. The Best Burger Business Plan

Burger lovers need not settle with the regular fast food burgers which are done in a hurry with very little passion or creativity. Maybe just reserve those burger moments to super busy days when you can’t be caught sitting and enjoying burgers for too long.

But when time permits and you want to give yourself some extra love, go to a gourmet burger joint instead and enjoy the same all American beef snack fresh with a little touch of artistry.

There are currently 3 major players in the gourmet burger industry and we’d like to take some time in comparing them.

The Players

Five Guys started in 1986 at Arlington, Virginia. It currently has expanded to over 1,000 locations in 47 states.

Smashburger started in 2007 at Denver, Colorado and to date, has expanded to more than 300 corporate and franchised restaurants in 32 states.

Burgerfi started in 2011 at Delray Beach, Florida and has 43 locations at the moment.

We cannot draw any conclusions from their growth and expansion because of the disparity in their years of exposure. Nor can we conclude that experience is a good determinant for burger perfection. In most cases, perfect blends are just random discoveries that have nothing to do with expertise. And besides, taste is always subjective judgment.

Let’s look at the menu.

Burger Menu

burgerfihamburgerMost of the gourmet burger patrons are burger lovers so there is no point in looking at other entrees other than the burger list.

Five Guys serves Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, Bacon Burgers, Bacon Cheeseburgers and their little versions for kids and adults with a small appetite.

Smashburger has the Classic Smash and 8 original recipe burgers to choose from; Avocado Club, BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon Cheeseburger, Buffalo & Blue Cheese, Spicy Jalapeno Baja, Spinach, Cucumber & Goat Cheese, Truffle Mushroom Swiss and Avocado ranch Black Bean Burger, plus, a create your own burger option.

Burgerfi has 5 burger options; Burgerfi Burger, Burgerfi Cheeseburger, breakfast All Day Burger, Veggie Burger and Brisket Burger. Classic burger and cheeseburger are served with double patties and, a build your own burger option as well.


Five Guys wants to make everything a lot simpler, not even creating special names for their burger options just plain hamburger, cheeseburger etc. This could be a sign of confidence.

Since Five Guys is basically an establishment set up by young guys who were at the prime of their hamburger loving years when they came up with the recipe, they probably felt that there was no need for a come on name, just the perfect taste. They are content in defining their product as “THE” burger.

They cook their hamburgers well-done without compromise because they know it’s the best.

The Five Guys Burger recipe is really something to be proud of. To say that the taste is superb is too subjective but, the over 1,000 successful Five Guys locations are proof enough that their burger blend is well appreciated by the majority.

Smashburger presented more burger options. They want to set themselves apart from the regular fast food burger joints by taking time in creating cheese, burger, veggie, condiment and add ons to give their products distinct profiles that will fit different types of burger lovers.

Of course, the main reason why customers will prefer to go a gourmet burger restaurant rather than the regular fast food is because they want something different from the hamburger generics.

Smashburger takes the theme of being different to a whole new level using food elements that are not usually associated with burgers like avocado, goat’s cheese and the likes to tickle every hamburger lover’s curiosity.

And, they have a reliable, can’t fail, create your own burger deal so that if you know exactly what you like, you can go ahead and create your own perfect hamburger.

For those who are searching for a different burger experience, Smashburger would be a good place to dine.

Burgerfi also wants to be different but, mainly by being bigger. The fact that their burgers are presented in double patties shows that they would like to cater to customers who would like to eat a sizeable amount of burger patties.

Their build-your-own burger option will provide the venue for those who would like to be a little more creative. But of course, the customer will have to be responsible for any “misconcoctions” they come up with.

While there are extreme hardcore large burger joints that cater to the more rugged and casual diner, Burgerfi would like to focus on the mid-range size eaters who would like to have something bigger than the McDonald’s Big Mac but smaller than Heart Attack Grille’s Quadruple Bypass.

It’s a safe move for Burgerfi because it will cater to a much bigger audience than Five Guys that’s so basic and Smashburger that’s so distinctive.

What will determine success in the burger business?

Is it in the creation of the best tasting burger?

Is it in packaging and burger presentation?

Or, is it in the identification of a potentially large market?

Burger success won’t be achieved in the kitchen. It will still be won on the businessman’s work table.

Though Burgerfi still has the lowest number of locations of the 3 gourmet burger joints at the moment, it will grow rapidly in the next few years and overtake the other two.

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