Along with his sons, Jerry Murrell of Five Guys Burgers and Fries built a 570-store chain that enjoys a cult following.
Sell a really good, juicy burger on a fresh bun. Make perfect French fries. Don’t cut corners. That’s been the business plan since Jerry Murrell and his sons opened their first burger joint in 1986. When they began selling franchises in 2002, the family had just five stores in northern Virginia. Today, there are 570 stores across the U.S. and Canada, with 2009 sales of $483 million. Overseeing the opening of about four new restaurants a week, the Murrells are proof that flipping burgers doesn’t have to be a dead-end job.
There was this little hamburger place where I grew up in northern Michigan. Almost everyone in our town, except the uppity uppities, ate the burgers. Even though the owner had a cat, which he’d pet while cooking. People called them fur burgers, but they still ate them because they were good.
I studied economics at the University of Michigan. I had no money and needed a place to stay, so I ran a fraternity house’s kitchen. I got the cook a raise and let her do the ordering. We started making money, because she knew what she was doing.
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