New Five Guys Opening Raises Concerns

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

January 9, 2006

A second Five Guys restaurant is coming to town. The new one will open on the Downtown Mall. Some mall shoppers are excited about the new location, but others think it will take away from the mall's small town feel.

The Downtown Mall is known for its unique stores and mom and pop restaurants. That's why some shoppers on the downtown mall feel a more commercial restaurant such as Five Guys wouldn't fit in.

"It's a little bit out of character with the mall is what I would call it," said Shopper Sara Rothenberger.

The popular burger joint is moving across from The Hardware Store Restaurant. About 20 years ago, chain stores were common on the mall, but many left because they found it too hard to compete with the local stores. This time, however, City leaders are hoping that will change.

"I don't see a threat from a chain coming in. I think there's a lot of people coming to the mall, this might bring some new people to the mall," said Charlottesville Mayor David Brown.

Local Resident Sara Rothenberger disagrees.

"I do think it would be better to try to keep somebody local. If you're going to have a hamburger place, have somebody local," said Rothenberger.

Others who work on the mall think the restaurant's cheap fast food appeal is more convenient than many of the local dine-in eateries.

"It might be easier to go in and get something, and come back out," said one shopper.

"I've worked here for 30 years or so, It'll be nice to be able to walk up and get a Five Guys hamburger," said shopper Jim Gibson.

Still, despite their anxiousness to see the store open, they agree that too many commercial stores would strip some of the mall's charm.

"I don't think it would be great if the whole mall is like that, but I think a couple stores is fine," said shopper Jackie Curtis.

The managers of Five Guys say they can't wait to open the store this summer. They have received numerous awards for their burgers, and they think they'll fit right in.

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