Five Guys: Surely fast food isn’t fast if you have to queue overnight for it

The queue has become as much a part of the meal as dough balls before Pizza Express


He began queuing at 4am.

The staff hadn’t even switched on the fryers; a patty wouldn’t hit the heat for another seven hours but no matter, he would be the first man to sink his teeth into a Five Guys bacon cheeseburger on UK soil. Just imagine, he must have thought, as the grease oozed between his teeth and yellow cheese strings cobwebbed his chin, what my grandchildren will say!

Five Guys, the Washington-based fast-food chain, reputed to be the home of Barack Obama’s favourite burger, opened its first UK outpost in Covent Garden on Thursday to a queue which extended around the block by 11am. It stretched almost as far as another American burger Mecca, Shake Shack, which opened its UK flagship, 300m down the road, a day later, to similar scenes.

Waiting on a pavement for cajun fries before breakfast must, surely, be the peak of a foodie hysteria which began in more innocent times with Delia Smith causing a run on cranberries at Sainsbury’s. Now food is not proper food unless you’ve earned it by doing something a bit unthinkable first. Where our ancestors foraged and fought, we put in bids on eBay for a Heston Christmas pudding in July. Or make reservations six months before we actually feel hungry. Or turn up at a no-reservations hot spot for dinner – small plates only, mind – at 5.45pm in order to beat the queue.

The queue, though, has become as much a part of the meal as dough balls before Pizza Express. Last week, I was given a “wait time” of 90 minutes for a posh hot dog. No matter that you could fly to Frankfurt and source your own sausage in that time, the fad in London is to make diners feel grateful to get a foot in the door, let alone a good feed at a civilised time.

Hype-queuing used to be something the British public did only for gadgets, fantasy novels and the Next sale. Fine, if you like that sort of thing, but I don’t, so I’ve never joined one. Waiting hours to be fed, at a fast-food outlet too, is a new kind of madness. The bubble has to burst. Only one foodstuff is worth getting up at dawn to queue for, and that’s strawberries on Centre Court tomorrow afternoon.

*** In one black-and-white shot, he fondles her leather-clad rear while staring moodily down the lens. In another she holds her designer handbag in front of her face, but not quite high enough to hide a passionate kiss from him. These are just two of the pictures the actress Sienna Miller and her fiancé, Tom Sturridge, also an actor, have posed for as part of Burberry's new Autumn/Winter 2013 advertising campaign. There is also a short film, in which the couple are shown getting dressed, whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears and embracing. Candid, "behind-the-scenes" pictures from the shoot include one in which Miller laughs behind her sunglasses at a giant camera lens which hovers in front of her face. It is all very intimate – a close-up snapshot of two famous lovers' lives.

It was not so long ago that Miller was giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. Her testimony about being chased down dark streets by the paparazzi was among the most striking of the whole affair and the Hollywood actress became a poster girl for privacy, an articulate scourge of press intrusion. The memory of it makes these photographs, which mine her real-life relationship for cash, a little distasteful. She and Sturridge might argue that this is work – while being snapped on holiday together is not – but anyone can see that there is an uncomfortable blurring of lines here. The hot trend for Autumn/Winter '13 is, clearly, having one's cake and eating it.

Twitter: @alicevjones

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine