Burger chain Five Guys set to open two new restaurants in Northern Ireland as business expands
Burger chain Five Guys could open at a further two Northern Ireland locations, following the launch of its first restaurant in Belfast, the three brothers behind the business have said.
The Desmond brothers - sons of Irish billionaire Dermot Desmond - are launching their first restaurant at the Victoria Square complex on Monday, creating 55 jobs in the process.
The burgers have won the backing of their father, as well as son Brett Desmond's pop superstar wife Andrea Corr.
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, brothers Brett (38), Ross (33) and Dery (27) spoke about their grand plans to open 10 of the US-owned chain of restaurants in the next couple of years.
It was younger brother Dery who first spotted the successful business during a trip to the US.
"The next time we were over in the US, we tried it out, and everything Dery had said, we thought," Brett Desmond said.
"That got us thinking, 'Could we get it?' I lived in Washington, where Five Guys started, and tested the food quite a bit."
"Our initial plan is 10 in Ireland and Northern Ireland. I would say we would like to open three or four, maybe five, in Dublin, dependent on locations," Ross said.
Five Guys is eyeing up Londonderry next, with other outlets to soon follow.
"Londonderry is an obvious choice, and we are definitely targeting there - but it is site-dependent," Ross said.
"We would hope to have another one in Northern Ireland by the end of next year, and then another one the year after," Brett added.
The franchise has been four years in the making, from initial conversations with owners the Murell family.
The Desmonds have also invested time and money in sending some of its staff to the US for a month to train.
Five Guys first launched in the US back in 1986. Since then, it has grown to have more than 1,200 outlets.
The expansion into Ireland and Northern Ireland comes after the chain landed in Great Britain two years ago. The Belfast store is, however, the first of its kind in Ireland.
Five Guys prides itself on not using freezers, with triple-cooked fries made fresh each day.
It offers a simple range of burgers with a range of topping, along with a selection of customised milkshakes.
Despite the massive number of competing restaurants at Victoria Square and a host of new burger businesses opening up - including Ed's Easy Diner and Eddie Rocket's - the brothers are confident of their restaurant's success.
"The quality of the ingredients won't be beaten anywhere," Ross told this newspaper.
"It's a customisable, made-to-order dining experience that is made with the best ingredients."
Ross also told how every decision on location and the expansion of the business in Ireland had involved Five Guys' owners, the Murrell family.
"They've be amazing to deal with," he said. "They are very hands-on, and it's really a collaboration. They have got to be protective of their brand. We collaborate with them in terms of locations we pick. They have a say in everything, because they want to protect their brand."
The three brothers have been working in a number of areas, including finance and technology, over the last few years.
But despite having their own far-reaching business empires, Ross said their the new restaurant venture was taking up most of their time.
And dad Dermot Desmond is already a fan of the burgers.
"I believe in the early 1970s he wrote to McDonald's looking for the franchise, but they never responded," Brett said.
"He's just watching from a distance, but he's excited for us," Ross added.