NJ Dining: Burger Battle In North Jersey (CLOSED)


Editor’s Note: Burger Boys is now closed.

Burger Boys
172 Broad Avenue, Fairview, NJ
(201) 313-3355

I love hamburgers, and I’m intrigued by new burger places. When I noticed a new, independently run burger restaurant, Burger Boys, opening up on Broad Street in Fairview, near the Super H-Mart Korean shopping plaza in Ridgefield in the old Fairview Diner location, I was overjoyed. I kept checking week after week waiting for them to open. Tonight, I went, only two weeks after its opening.

What I encountered shocked and rocked me to the core. Yes, it’s independently owned. Yes, the burgers are decent. However, I didn’t count on the place flat out, unabashedly and unashamedly copying another recently opened burger restaurant, Five Guys in Hackensack, an excellent chain burger franchise originating from the Washington DC area. And when I mean copy, I don’t just mean stylistically copying the food. I mean copying it right down to the restaurant decor, the uniforms of the staff, the menu, the food presentation, everything. Did they actually succeed, or is it a copy that doesn’t quite hit the mark? Read on.

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Burger Boys storefront on Broad Avenue in Fairview.

Is a great hamburger just the sum of its parts or is there something else to it? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Hey, they opened up next to the Baptist Church. Didn’t Jesus say something in the New Testament about Thou shalt not covet thy competitor’s intellectual property and trademarks?

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Burger Boys restaurant interior.

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Five Guys restaurant interior. Hmmmmmm.

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Burger Boys ordering area.

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Burger Boys menu. Hey look, they got onion rings! Oh, no peanut oil.

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Five Guys menu.

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Burger Boys packaging

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Five Guys packaging

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Burger Boys Bacon Cheeseburger with Fried Onions, Lettuce, Tomato and Barbecue Sauce. Like Five Guys, the default burger is also a double. I will freely admit here that Burger Boys does make a good hamburger, although they are taking the Five Guys religion to the letter when it comes to Well Doneness. In the Five Guys case, I think its a CYA statement, because I never get truly Well Done burgers at their establishment, they are always still juicy. These were tasty, but something was missing, it just didn’t seem the same. I think I like the burger mix itself from Five Guys better as well. The burgers at Burger Boys are slightly bigger, and I didn’t think they executed the Maillard reaction as well with a proper crusting/caramelization of the meat as Five Guys does. Rachel and I both agreed that Five Guys does a much better job of crisping the bacon as well, the Burger Boys bacon was unevenly cooked. When we told the owner about it, he told us “well, its probably just that one strip of bacon that came out like that.” When we showed him the other pieces of bacon that came out that way, he just shrugged it off. I didn’t expect him to replace the bacon or the burger, but I was somewhat surprised he refused to acknowledge it.

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The identical burger from Five Guys, minus BBQ sauce.

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BBQ Sauce Bacon single patty bacon cheeseburger with raw onion at Five Guys.

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Rachel’s Bacon Cheeseburger with Mayo, Mushrooms, Pickles and Mustard from Burger Boys.

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Rachel wanted me to take this photo to reveal her unevenly cooked bacon.

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An identically prepared burger at Five Guys.

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Onion Rings and Fries at Burger Boys. As you can see, Burger Boys does not fry their fries nearly as crisp and they also use Canola Oil instead of the Peanut Oil that Five Guys uses. This apparently was a choice that Burger Boys made in order to not have the issue of having to turn away people with peanut allergies. While I respect this business decision, the truth of the matter is that peanut oil just plain tastes better and results in a better tasting product. I also miss the fact that there are no peanuts to eat at Burger Boys while you are waiting for your order like at Five Guys. Good onion rings though — this is one deficiency at Five Guys that Burger Boys actually remedied.

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Five Guys fries.

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To add additional insult to injury to Five Guys, they copied the format and layout of the takeout menu as well. WTF?

So the question remains, does Burger Boys make a decent burger? Yes. Do I like Five Guys burgers better? Yes, without question. Do their fries compare with Five Guys? Not even close, although they are certainly better than other alternatives in the immediate Fairview/Ridgefield area.

Personally, if I were opening an independent burger restaurant, I would have pursued a completely different strategy for brand identity, and I would have done something different with the burgers themselves. I think Burger Boys is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and Five Guys would be totally in their rights to litigate them into the ground. I’m sure a cease and desist is on its way, if it isn’t in their hands already. However, if it was up to me, I wouldn’t bother wasting my money on attorney fees because Burger Boys’ product just isn’t as good. However, if you’re in the Fairview area and craving a burger, I think the place is worth a stop, and definitely better than the other fast food options locally. However, when given a choice, I would much rather eat at Five Guys — I think they are taking much more exacting care with their food and peanut oil just plain rules. Sorry Canola.

35 Responses to NJ Dining: Burger Battle In North Jersey (CLOSED)

  1. Scott says:

    As someone who has dined at the original Five Guys 8+ years ago I applaud this post. This rip off is amazing, although I agree not worth the lawsuit. Now I have my issues with some Five Guys post chain expansion but really this is ridiculous. I still say if you want Five Guys you have to go to the Old Town Alexandria location. I never dreamed this local chain would inspire this rip off attempt.

  2. Yeah, looks like a ‘cease and desist’ order should be just around the corner for those guys. I’ve never seen such a blatant ripoff! Back in the early days of White Castle there were endless knockoffs (the biggest was White Tower) and all faced strong lawsuits that put them out of business. Have you read ‘Selling ‘Em By The Sack’? It’s a facinating story about the birth of fast food and the history of White Castle. A must read.

  3. Pigtrip says:

    Another great post Jason. When you were talking to the owner about the bacon, did the Five Guys similarity come up?

  4. Jon says:

    Couldn’t one argue that the whole “checkerboard” motif was copied even earlier by Five Guys from the Checkers/Rally’s burger chain?

  5. Jon: I would let the checkerboard thing go except they ripped off EVERYTHING else. And unlike this place, nobody could argue in court that Five Guys’ business model or their burgers or fries are anything like Checkers/Rally.

  6. Hans Kobelt says:

    Jason,
    You should check out the lawsuit filed by Pearl Lobster Bar against Ed’s Lobster Bar. It’s all about copying the decor, menu and everything else, just like above.

  7. Hans Kobelt says:

    Sorry, I meant Pearl Oyster Bar!

  8. Frank says:

    I walked into Burger Boys a few weeks ago and was shocked that it was a Five Guys clone. Since everything on the menu was practically the same I tried one of the things not on the Five Guys menu, the Cheese Steak. I have to say the Cheese Steak was pretty good and highly recommend it if your going to give them a try.

  9. Joe Esposito says:

    This is amazing. The welldoneness keeps will keep me from both places. I wasn’t impressed when five guys opened up in Schenectady, NY. I did manage to drop my fries off the roof of my car though. They literally fell into a puddle of unknown material.

  10. Jim says:

    Wow. I can’t believe how blatant this ripoff is! How exactly do they think they can get away with copying everything, right down to the UNIFORMS?

  11. Christine says:

    Holy cow! What a great post. What a sad way to have to create a business…

  12. Joey Deckle says:

    Those Boys are going to H-E-L-L. That’s just crazy! FWIW, I don’t think this case is at all like the Pearl/Ed’s case. I tend to think the whole Pearl/Ed’s think lacks merit, but this is just insane.

  13. Kirk says:

    That’s almost as bad as when Two Pesos copied Taco Cabana. They copied everything – floorplans, color schemes, menus, you name it. Taco Cabana sued and won. I remember the signs that were posted in every Two Pesos, stating something to the effect of “Two Pesos unfairly copied our look from Taco Cabana, the two chains are not connected, blah, blah blah.”

  14. […] in New Jersey has ripped off local DC burger chain Five Guys. […]

  15. PatboyX says:

    I’m not so sure this is as cut-and-dry as it seems. I mean, the whole idea of a throw-back, big portion burger joint isn’t exactly patent material. Jersey’s also got White Mana and White Diamond, who specialize in small, quick-cook burgers. I don’t think White Castle is seriously eyeballing these guys looking for cash. Hell, they could pre-date White Castle but if Castle made it sell better, that’s the country we live in.

    I can’t say if Five Guys is all that original to begin with. While damned tasty, I find this concept hard to pin to a single person or chain. Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight but if Burger Boys are that bad, they will fail. However, if we expect poor moral standing to be punished in the restaurant and business world, we got a long wait, Boys.

  16. […] a shop in Hackensack, N.J. Now here’s where it starts to get interesting. Überblogger Jason Perlow reports that Burger Boys, an independent joint, has also set up shop in nearby Fairview. They […]

  17. PatboyX: In the case of White Castle, they’ve already sued everyone out of oblivion who they consider to be infringing on their IP. See Hamburger America’s post above.

    I don’t seriously believe White Castle could claim White Manna is copying them or successfully litigate. I mean, White Castle has a patented process in which it cooks its burgers, with a patented bun, and White Manna is as low tech and old school as you can possibly get. White Manna has been around since the late 1930’s, it would be a hell of a long time for them to wait until filing suit :) Besides, they seem to coexist quite nicely in Hackensack.

    What Burger Boys is doing is actual theft — they really have copied everything, to the point of anal retentiveness. I mean, couldnt have they gone with a different shirt color? Different menu layout? A double thick patty rather than a double patty? Martin’s Potato Rolls instead of an exact copy of the Five Guys bun? Why not make it uniquely Jersey than doing some exact copy of an out of state chain? I mean, show some originality for Christ Sake. Chili Cheese fries. Shakes! Some unique burger/topping combos. Anything.

  18. francine miller says:

    I recently had lunch at burger boys on my way to home depot in n. bergen. I dont know who copied who, or do i care, because the burger was really good and the fries were good too. Definitely would go back when i crave a burger.

  19. Mark Davids says:

    Tried burger boys this past Tuesday on my way through town and was shocked at how delicious everything
    was. After having their double burger and a kosher frank, I actually sent a couple of friends who I work with
    there as well. They loved it! I’ve only been to five guys once and it was quite a while ago, but I don’t remember
    the food being nearly as good or fresh as burger boys. The truth is that with food this good, I could care less who’s
    menu looks like who’s or what color the uniforms are. I’ve been craving another burger ever since I left.
    This place is definitely worth a try if you love a great burger… I’m hoping to get back there at some point this weekend!
    A++++

  20. Marc Cohen says:

    On my way to the Police Concert in the Meadowlands my friends and I stopped by Burger Boy for dinner. I have to say this is a great concept. The food was great and the ambiance was fantastic. I want to open a restaurant like this in Central New Jersey. Best Burger I had in a long time.

  21. PatboyX says:

    Now I’m excited to read that book.
    Obviously, they are both cashing in on the same market. My only question is how to determine if Five Guys is really the ones that are being ripped off? I would say they are currently pretty well known and successful but if we are truly concerned about IP in the food business, I think there may be a hard struggle to prove that the kitsch and style presented by Five Guys is “theirs” enough to base any complaint they may have. It’s basically just a roadside burger-joint Americana gimmick and, although delicious, hard to really pin down as being any one man’s.
    I don’t disagree with what you are doing, though. Fight the good fight hard enough and you may keep enough customers away to force a change.
    Also: I assume the last two replies were plants. Partially because I’m paranoid but mostly because they were too glowing and didn’t address a damn thing you wrote in your review.

  22. justin says:

    While the decor is nearly the same, I’m pretty sure there’s menu templates out there anyone is free to use. That’s probably what happened. Did you bother asking the people working there? Those burgers look pretty awful, really.

  23. Mike C says:

    I live right near Burger Boys and I love it. I never tried five guys. All i care about is that there is a decent place to get a burger near my house. It is surprising how similar they are but i dont really care cause its close.

  24. josh is loyal to fiveguys says:

    This place is rediculous…. I’ve been around five guys for about 19 years and I have never seen a burger place copy them a-z. These guys definately have no creativity nor do they probably have any idea why they do things they way they do them… they just copied five guys right down to the exact menu items, aside from cheese steaks and onion rings. All I have to say is these guys are boring, lame, and down right stupid for not having the balls or ambition to create something from scratch and watch it grow

  25. francine miller says:

    Went back to burger boys on friday and was very suprised to find the menu has changed, the priced lowered, and shakes were added to the menu. I guess your review had a pretty strong effect on
    burger boys.

  26. […] chronicled on the blog Off the Broiler, an independent burger chain called Burger Boys has popped up which has copied the Five Guys […]

  27. […] a shop in Hackensack, N.J. Now here’s where it starts to get interesting. Überblogger Jason Perlow reports that Burger Boys, an independent joint, has also set up shop in Hackensack. They copied […]

  28. Mark Davids says:

    Finally had a chace to get back to Burger Boy’s this weekend. They have changed their menu a bit to include
    combo meals and shakes. They have also lowered their prices across the board and seems to be much more
    crowded then when they first opened. Burger’s were still delicious!
    Good Job Guys!!!

    Mark

  29. snoh says:

    Went to Burger Boys for lunch today and had the burger combo. The patty was small and the fries limp. Sorry, I am not also sold on mushy buns. Pretty disappointed. But then again, I did not have high expectations. Will not go back.

  30. T Man says:

    Not sure if it is still around, but drive up Fairview Avenue to Nungessers for a clone of Dairy Queen called Dairy CREAM. Shares a similar name and look, except you look at the location and wonder why they would locate in such a cramped place.

    I really don’t think this will last here. Outside of possible litigation, this location is kind of a black hole for food places. Most don’t last very long.

  31. kurt magavitz says:

    Why dont they call it micdonalds or burger queen at this point. stopped in the see what the fuss was about
    and happened to catch the owner, and i asked him about the knock off. His response was that he tried to get the five guys franchise and the territory was taken. He wanted to go with what has worked and has since changed a large part of the menu. In all fairness the food was really good and they have a killer
    strawberry milkshake. Give it a chance, because the guy really seems to run a good clean business and
    seems like a really nice guy.

  32. Dan H says:

    I went by Burger Boys today and it has closed. The sign on the door said said it was out of business and thanked the customers for their patronage.

  33. John Fox says:

    Serves them right for blatantly ripping off Five Guys.

  34. SANDRA says:

    IS THERE A BURGER BOYS IN SOUTH CENTRAL?
    THAT IS CALLED BOY’S BURGER?
    I WAS WONDERING IF IT WAS THE SAME ONE.

  35. Log Cavein says:

    White Castle only has a patent on the five-hole square hamburger patty. The bun, nor it’s “method of preparation” are patented. Anyone can copy it as long as they don’t put the dice-arranged round holes in it, but you can still put holes in it. Litigating a restaurant that steams small hamburgers today would be ridiculous. Krystal hamburgers, a large chain in Tennessee, use essentially an identical method of preparation, and they co-exist with White Castle.

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