Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Five Guys Burgers and Fries planning Fresno expansion

Five Guys Burgers and Fries apparently really likes Fresno. A company that owns many of the franchised restaurants is planning to open 10 more — yes 10 — restaurants in Fresno. Encore Restaurants, LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Encore Enterprises, Inc. announced Tuesday that it has purchased the existing Fresno restaurant in River Park (along with the Five Guys locations in Elk Grove, Lodi, Natomas, RosevilleStocktonTracy, and West Sacramento). The company plans to open 45 more Five Guys locations in the state over the next four years, with 10 of them in Fresno.

Of course, this is the point where my suspicious reporter brain said “Really? All 10 in Fresno? Not the ‘Fresno area’ that could potentially stretch to Bakersfield?” Nope, said the marketing director who double checked with the company president.  All 10 in Fresno.

They have found locations for the sites, but are not releasing addresses yet. Building will start in early 2015. Marketing director Amy Upton said: “They just have had a lot of feedback [from] people wanting them. There’s a need for it in the area. People are requesting them.”

Five Guys serves burgers, of course, but also hot dogs and sandwiches, along with providing peanuts in bulk for customers. Is this a challenge to the Valley’s beloved In-N-Out Burger perhaps? 

Hanford gets really excited about its In-N-Out

inoutburgerAn In-N-Out Burger opened in Hanford today and this is a really, really big deal there. Why? Because people in Hanford have been pushing for one for years. Fans launched a “Bring In-N-Out to Hanford” Facebook page that has 9,195 likes, decorated an In-N-Out themed float in their homecoming parade and got 8,000 signatures on a petition. One guy who’s been messaging me even had the red palm trees from the cups tattooed on his arms.

Anyway, today was the big opening. Some folks showed up in the early hours of the morning to be the first in the door. The restaurant is at 280 S. 12th St., which is right near Highway 198 and in front of Walmart. It has a drive-thru and employs 50 people, with a starting wage of $10.50 per hour.

Zealous In-N-Out fans to get Hanford location

inoutburgerOne of the first things I learned when I moved to Fresno over a decade ago was that this is In-N-Out Burger country. And Hanford is no exception.

In-N-Out fans there recently found out they’re finally going to get one of their beloved restaurants. It’s in the very beginning stages, but sometime months and months from now — if all goes as planned — there should be an In-N-Out on 12th Avenue in front of Walmart.

This is a special victory for fans because they’ve been campaigning to bring In-N-Out here for the last 23 months. Let me give you a sampling of the zeal of their efforts:

  • The “Bring In-N-Out to Hanford” Facebook campaign has 8,692 likes.
  • A petition drive brought in more than 8,000 signatures, including local soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iran.
  • In-N-Out fans had their own float in a homecoming parade, a fire truck decorated by people dedicated to bringing the restaurant to Hanford.
  • Somehow Good Morning America host Josh Elliot and ABC 30 got in on the action, with the host giving on-air shout outs to the effort. You can see him getting the news here.

And I’ll leave you with the entertaining words of one of In-N-Out’s most dedicated Hanford fans, MichaelAnthony LaCrue. This guy is so in love with this restaurant that he’s been calling the company every other week for years, and is even planning to have the red palm trees from the In-N-Out cup tattooed on his wrists.

I think Corporate In-N-Out finally decided the only way they could shut me up was to stick a double double in my mouth. I received a gorgeous In-N-Out snow globe from corporate at Christmas and soon after they sent me the message I have been waiting for ,,,, for oh so long,,,,,, They are coming to Hanford!!!!

Time for the burger taste tests

With Monday’s opening of Eureka!Burger and today’s opening of Five Guys Burgers and Fries, we finally get a chance to taste and judge their dishes.

Check out my column today for the stores’ locations and hours of operation — and to see why I think the real burger war is between Five Guys and In-N-Out Burger across the street from River Park.

Here are some photos from my trips to Five Guys and Eureka!Burger:

1. In my column, I said the grilled onions and mushrooms were skimpy on the Five Guys’ burger I bought last week while on vacation in Maryland:


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Let the burger wars begin


In my last post about River Park restaurants, burgers were on everybody’s minds. There was much excitement about Five Guys Burgers & Fries taking over Johnny Rockets’ old spot. And we speculated about competition between Habit, the upcoming Eureka!Burger, In-N-Out and Five Guys.

Bee reporter Bethany Clough wondered “if the burger places even consider other burger places competition.”

The answer arrived today, in the form of a press release announcing the August 9 opening of Eureka:

“There are a lot of restaurants out there serving burgers, but we take it a few steps further by creating an atmosphere and menu that make guests of all ages want to stay, hang out and visit multiple times per week,” said Paul Frederick, managing partner of Eureka!Burger. “Eureka!Burger separates itself from The Habits and Five Guys Burger & Fries of the world by offering 11 gourmet burger selections, six terrific ‘meal salads’, nine flat screens for sports entertainment, a full bar featuring artisan beers and liquors together with great music. Although food is our number one passion, our restaurant is designed for far more than just a food experience.”

Kinda interesting that they directly addressed their competitors, no? Like I said, let the burger wars begin.

[photo of the turkey cobb burger at Eureka!Burger]