Customers make orders at the Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant in southern Seoul. The U.S. fast-food chain sold some 15,000 burgers during the first week after its debut on June 26. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Galleria

US fast food chain attracting visitors even from Japan

Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant hit the jackpot in Seoul on the launch of the U.S. fast food chain here, according to Korea’s Hanwha Galleria on July 4.

During the first week after its debut in southern Seoul on June 26, the Five Guys restaurant sold around 15,000 burgers, or some 2,000 burgers a day and 200 burgers an hour.

Hanwha Galleria said that customers had visited the two-story outlet with some 150 seats from across the country. Some even flew to Seoul from Japan where Five Guys has yet to debut.

Last October, Five Guys minted a partnership with Hanwha Galleria, a luxury retailer as a subsidiary of Hanwha Group, to tap into the South Korean market.

Founded by the Murrell family with five brothers, Five Guys started a business in Virginia in 1986. The franchise chalked up success by selling hamburgers, French fries, and hot dogs.

Last month, South Korea became the fifth Asian country to host the Virginia-based brand, after Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and Malaysia.

From day one, people stood in long lines to taste Five Guys’ foods despite heavy rains. The queue was more than 300 yards long, and it took up to five hours to enter the restaurant.

From the perspective of Five Guys, its Seoul branch broke the sales record for a new store in the Asia-Pacific region during its first week of opening during June 26 and July 2.

It placed among the top five in sales among some 1,800 Five Guys stores across the world.

“With the advent of Five Guys, the competition in the domestic burger market will be really fierce,” business consultant Leaders Index CEO Park Ju-gun said.

“Traditional burger brands like McDonald’s would have to remain alert not to lose its market share.”

The South Korean burger market has been dominated by McDonald’s, Burger King, and local brand Lotteria.

In 2016, however, the country’s food giant SPC Group launched the U.S. brand Shake Shack here to target the high-end burger market and chalked up a success. There are currently 25 Shake Shack stores in Korea.

Another U.S. fast-food franchise Super Duper Burgers also waded into the country late last year. In-N-Out Burger has yet to make a foray into Asia’s fourth-largest economy, though.