Why Is Five Guys So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)

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In the fast-food industry, there are a few big players that tend to dominate the market. But there is one player that seems to be a bit more expensive than the rest: Five Guys.

So what gives? Why is Five Guys so much more expensive than its competitors?

The main reason that Five Guys is more expensive than its competitors is that it uses higher-quality ingredients that are never frozen and they are also generous with its portions of fries and beef patties. While this attracts the loyalty of many customers, it also drives up the cost of their meals.

Five Guys burgers and fries restaurant_Why Is Five Guys So Expensive

10 Reasons Why Five Guys Is So Expensive 

Let’s dig deeper into the reasons behind the high prices at Five Guys:

1. They Take Good Care of Their Employees

One of the main reasons that Five Guys is more expensive than its competitors is that the company offers competitive employee benefits.

They offer retirement plan matches, health insurance, and regular bonuses at regular intervals of the year.

For students or aspiring students, there is also an opportunity for employees to apply for tuition reimbursement and receive personalized educational coaching.

This funding can range from a partial payout of $5,250 to a fully funded degree.

Every employee is also offered a free meal during their shift, which can help to offset the cost of food for the workers.

2. They Have a No Freezer Policy

Fruits and meats in cooler

All of the ingredients that Five Guys uses are fresh and never frozen. This includes beef, potatoes, and even peanut oil.

While this might not seem like a big deal, it actually makes a huge difference in terms of taste and quality. Frozen ingredients tend to be less flavorful and can often be mushy.

So the company is committed to using only coolers, which means that they have to go through more products and incur higher costs.

3. They Use Healthier (and Costlier) Oils

Most restaurants, especially of the fast food variety, use canola oil or vegetable oil to cook their food. However, Five Guys uses peanut oil for all of their fryings.

While this does make their burgers and fries a bit more expensive, it’s also healthier since peanut oil has a lower saturated fat content than canola or vegetable oils.

It also gives their french fries a unique taste that sets them apart from other locations.

4. Portions Are Much Larger

Another reason that Five Guys is more expensive than its competitors is that portions are significantly larger.

A small order of fries at Five Guys is actually the same size as a large order at McDonald’s.

The same goes for their burgers; a “small” burger at Five Guys is actually bigger than most average patties at other fast food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s.

While we may see this as expensive, it actually may be about the same cost as competitors, since you don’t have to pay for size upgrades to receive the same amount of food.

5. Everything Is Made to Order

At Five Guys, everything is made fresh and to order. This means that there are no pre-made patties or buns sitting around waiting to be used.

They also cut their own fries in-house and season them at the location.

This process actually makes a big difference in terms of quality and taste.

Not only does this cost more when it comes to ingredients, but it also costs more in labor. And, of course, it results in tastier Five Guys burgers.

6. You Can Get Free Toppings

Aburger sandwich with toppings

One of the things that make Five Guys so popular is that they offer free toppings on their burgers and fries.

This includes items like grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, jalapenos, and green peppers.

There are over 15 different fresh ingredients that you can mix and match and even the cheese on your burger won’t come at an additional cost.

There are also secret menu options that have become fan favorites, such as the “Double Grilled Cheese” and the “Patty Melt.”

All of these options add up and affect the cost of the products.

7. All Packaging is Disposable

Even if you’re dining inside of a Five Guys location, everything is still served in disposable packaging.

This includes their iconic red and white paper bags, as well as their plastic cups and straws.

Since there aren’t any reusable materials that can be washed and extended in the restaurant indefinitely, the company needs to constantly purchase new packaging materials that will be used once and then thrown away.

This adds up over time and affects the overall cost of their products.

8. Franchisees Have to Pay a Percentage of Sales

All Five Guys franchisees are required to pay a percentage of their sales back to the company, which affects the prices that consumers see.

The initial franchise fee is $25,000, the development fee ranges from $50,000 to $125,000, and the leasehold improvements range from $100,000 to $300,000 when a franchise is opened.

There are also additional fees including rental fees, equipment, signage, inventory, engineering, setting up cash register systems, employee onboarding and training, business licenses and permits, insurance, and any travel or lodging expenses.

These total costs can range from $300,000 to $750,000, which is all built into the product’s cost.

9. Employees are Rigorously Trained

A group of restaurant staff

To avoid potential issues with employee incompetence, Five Guys spends a lot of time training its employees.

While employees are being trained, they continue to receive their salary. Furthermore, the trainer is being compensated simultaneously.

Consequently, payroll will be expensive, and employees will accomplish less than they would on a standard workday.

While this may save the company more money over time, it will certainly lose them money upfront.

To keep training programs effective and relevant, those who are in charge need to develop and assemble employee training programs.

These programs take time and money to develop, and again, they will add to the overhead costs of the business.

10. Five Guys Branding Is Expensive

Few brands have as recognizable a branding image as Five Guys. From their red and white checkered packaging to their ubiquitous yellow t-shirts, almost everyone can identify a Five Guys product.

Creating and maintaining this level of brand awareness is not cheap. In addition to advertising, they also invest heavily in things like store design and uniforms.

All of these things help to create an experience that customers will remember and want to come back for, no matter which Five Guys locations you’re frequenting.

All of these factors working together affect the cost of their products.

So Five Guys Is Expensive, But Is It Worth It?

Now that you have a good idea as to why Five Guys have higher food costs than other restaurants, you may be wondering if it’s worth it to spend your well-earned money there.

And the answers, as with most things in life, are subjective. So ask yourself the following questions to decide if this is a good deal for you or if you should favor cheaper brands:

1. Do You Actually Like the Five Guys Menu?

This is the most important question you can ask yourself.

If you don’t like their burgers or fries or hand-spun milkshakes, then it doesn’t matter how good of a deal they are—you’re not going to be happy with your purchase.

But if you love their food and think that it’s worth every penny, then go ahead and treat yourself!

Maybe it’s something you eat as an occasional treat to justify the cost, or maybe it’s your go-to spot for every meal.

If you can afford it, it’s your choice.

2. Do Prices At a Five Guys Restaurant Fit Your Budget?

What’s considered “too expensive” is different for everyone.

When evaluating the cost, take into account how much you usually spend on fast food, as well as any dietary restrictions you may have.

If a burger and fries from Five Guys is going to put you way over your budget for the week or month, it might not be the best choice for you right now.

You can also save up to eat there if it’s something you really want to do. Setting goals such as not eating out all week so that you can enjoy Five Guys Burgers on the weekend can work well for some people.

Remember that time is money. If you value your time, then it might be worth it to spend a few extra dollars on a meal that’s already prepared, rather than cooking at home may be a better value for your lifestyle.

3. Is It Convenient For You To Visit Five Guys?

If you have to go far out of your way to enjoy a Five Guys burger, then it may not be worth it for you.

Luckily, there are plenty of locations worldwide, but there are also many other fast-food restaurants that may be more convenient for you to stop by.

You can order your Five Guys food online for delivery or pickup, but keep in mind that the Five Guys menu may have higher prices when you shop online, especially through third-party delivery services.

Still, this makes it more convenient for many people and justifies the purchase for some.

4. What Is Your Overall Experience When You Dine at Five Guys?

If your family loves to visit Five Guys and you always have a great time, then it may be worth the money to you.

On the other hand, if you frequently have issues with your orders being incorrect or find that the customer service is lacking, it may not be the best use of your resources.

In general, Five Guys employees are well-trained and compensated, so many people appreciate their service.

5. Would You Recommend the Restaurant To Others?

A group of friends eating burger

Your personal opinion of Five Guys will likely play a role in whether or not you think it’s worth the money.

If you think it’s a great spot for families, have friends that also love their burgers, or would recommend it to others, then it’s probably a place you’ll continue to visit and is worth the expense.

6. Can You Extend the Value of Your Purchase?

There are many ways you can get more value out of your Five Guys visit despite price hikes. For example, since the fries come in such big portions, you can easily share them with a dining partner.

You can also order as many free toppings as your heart desires to up the value of your burger.

7. Do You Care About the Quality of Ingredients?

If you’re someone who is willing to sacrifice quality for quantity, then Five Guys may not be the best place for you to eat. 

On the other hand, if you believe that you deserve only the best quality ingredients, you may appreciate the standards this company holds itself to.

Your burger won’t be organic, but it’s a bit expensive because the company pairs with food producers that have high standards for their products.

Final Thoughts: Why Is Five Guys So Expensive?

In conclusion, there are many factors that contribute to the high cost of Five Guys burgers. From the fresh ingredients to the free toppings, everything adds up.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether or not Five Guys is worth the money. Consider your budget, convenience, overall experience, and whether or not you would recommend it to others.

If you extend the value of your purchase and don’t mind spending a bit extra for quality ingredients, it could be a good value for you.

A Five Guys restaurant with text overlays that read Why Is Five Guys So Expensive


About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.