Brighter with a burger

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 18 Oct 2019

American-style hamburger shop Five Guys is opening a new place in Central. The news represents a bright spot on the otherwise gloomy local retailing landscape, which has been seeing much more bad news than good in recent months.

Five Guys forayed into Hong Kong with the first outlet in Wan Chai, followed by a second one in Tsim Sha Tsui. That it is planning a third one, despite exorbitant rents, shows that it could be more aggressive than Shake Shack, another American burger shop.

Five Guys' signature handcrafted hamburger is well-liked, and its name got a further boost when former US President Barack Obama visited.

Riding on its rising popularity, the shop introduced concept burgers too.

The US is a land of capitalism, so even someone as important as the president would become a de facto ambassador for a brand to give it a hand to expand internationally.

I tried the Wan Chai shop a few months ago. Subsequently, I visited Canada and visited the shop there.

The biggest difference between the Five Guys in the two places is that the Canada shop serves customers delicious free peanuts - crunchy with a hint of salt flavor - as they are waiting for their order, which gives you a particularly good feeling about the shop.

I saw many customers munching on the snack as they waited patiently for their food. I don't think I've seen this service at the Hong Kong outlet yet.

Also, the shop in Canada is not crowded, so it has a quiet and comfortable ambience. The food is also slightly cheaper than that in Hong Kong.

Same brand, but the mode of operation is different in Canada to that in Hong Kong, where the shop goes for the high turnover.

Judging from its rate of expansion, I believe the Hong Kong outlets are quite lucrative, and could even be much more so than its counterparts in Canada or the US.

Therefore, one can't be far wrong for saying that Hong Kong is the goose that lays golden eggs for many US enterprises.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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