London—often the laughing stock of American food connoisseurs— is set to become a haven for U.S. burger lovers as two of the country's most popular chains open stores in the U.K. capital.
Five Guys, a fast-growing upmarket burger chain, opened the doors to its first outlet outside North America in London's Covent Garden on Thursday to coincide with Independence Day. By Thursday evening there was a three-hour wait for a table at the restaurant.
Hot on its heels, rival Shake Shack will open its first location in London just 300 meters away on Friday.
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London is an obvious choice for both restaurants. In the past few years, the city has witnessed a growth in high-end burger eateries, with chains like Honest Burger and Byron opening a number of stores. The British have taken such a liking to high-end burgers that they commonly refer to them as "posh burgers".
The Choice of Country Leaders
In fact, the British finance minister George Osborne sparked a wave of media coverage recently when he tweeted a photo of himself enjoying a late-night burger and fries in his office, ahead of June's government spending review.
He was heavily criticized when it was revealed that the burger he was eating while finalizing cuts to benefits and government spending wasn't the typical fast food fare from Burger King or McDonald's, but a high-end burger from Byron, which costs £6.75 ($10.30). A quarter pounder with cheese at McDonald's, by comparison, costs £2.59 ($3.95).
Defending his gourmet choice on TV, Osborne said: "Well McDonald's doesn't deliver, I was working late in the office." He added that he was "partial to a quarter-pounder with cheese".
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Like Osborne, U.S. President Barack Obama enjoys an upmarket burger and can recommend Five Guys to the Chancellor. Back in 2009, the U.S. President was spotted in a local Five Guys in Washington, D.C., where he ordered a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, jalapeno peppers and mustard.