How Many Hamburger Restaurants Can The Market Support?

Last weekend, we went to a new hamburger joint (Wahlbugers)-started by ex-New Kid and actor Donnie Wahlburg.
The hamburgers were ok (nothing special)…which raises the question:here (in the Boston area) there are several chains…Red Robin, Fuddruckers, Five Guys, and now Wahlburgers…to add to the Micky D’s, Burger King, Wendy’s.
How many of these places can survive? I cannot see so many places being able to srvive-I like hamburgers, but not all the time.

Don’t forget the surge in non-chain burger places here in the Boston area (and I assume in other places too).

Back in a moment with some names…

Well, the big thing is that, while, yes, they all serve hamburgers, there are several different types of restaurant on your list.

McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King are all “quick-service” (a.k.a. “fast food”) restaurants. Relatively low prices, counter service, doing a lot of business on drive-thru, etc.

Five Guys and Fuddruckers are a different segment: “fast casual”. Theoretically, a bit higher food quality, a bit higher-priced, and food that’s generally prepared to order (which means it typically takes a few more minutes to get your order). Also, they rarely, if ever, have drive-thrus.

Red Robin is in a different segment entirely: “casual dining”. They compete more directly with places like Applebee’s, Friday’s, etc. Table service, alcoholic beverages, and again, theoretically a bit better food quality.

Most people would not see all of these chains as mutually interchangeable.

Keep watching. If Wahlburgers is in business in 5 years, the answer to your question is: “more than there are.” If it isn’t, the answer is “not that many.”

eta: simulpost on hamburgers at 4:20. Coincidence?

Four Burgers
Flat Patty’s
Tasty Burger
Mr. Bartleys (may not count since it’s so old)
Boston Burger Company
5 Napkin Burger

And then all the places with a reputation for good burgers.

Slight tangent: In addition to burger places, I have noticed that the type of new restaurants opening recently have been mostly in the casual/small size/quick/cheap variety. For example, prior to the recession I do not recall seeing too many of these types of places, but have since seen them opening:

  • Cupcakes
  • Hot Dogs
  • Hamburgers (not fast food, necessarily),
  • Buffalo Wings
  • “Gourmet” food trucks

Will any of these trends last or are they just a fad until the economy picks up? Are these “Recession Eats”? These would have been considered “snacks” 10 years ago, but now a whole business is built around them.

Yep-the cpcakes thing amazes me-when I was a kid, cupcakes were things your grandmother made.
Now they are “gourmet” fare-people were standing in line (20 deep) to buy these things in Boston.
I jst don’t get it-they are just little cakes with tons of sugary frosting on top-weird!

There are several near where I live. The “gourmet” ones are:

Red Robin
The Habit
Giant Burger

There’s also:
Mc Donalds
Carls Jr.
Burger King
Jack in the Box

These are all within about a half mile radius.
The fast food doesn’t surprise me, but the number of not quite fast food burgers in such a small area amazes me. Only the Giant Burger is less than a year old, so the others seem to do okay.

Are any of those any good? I haven’t found a really great burger place in Boston, and I’ve looked. (Love the atmosphere at Bartley’s though.)

And it’s worth pointing out that there are chains we don’t have in Boston. Fatburger, Whataburger, and In-N-Out all seem to be catching on in other parts of the country. And Red Robin and Sonic are recent arrivals here.

I’m sure most new hamburger chains are not counting on vast increase in the market for hamburgers, but on cutting in on the market share of existing hamburger chains. Should be a LOT of room for new players given how many hamburger joints already exist.

I have some friends who are trying to tour all the hamburger places, so I will ask them. My favorite - Krazy Karry’s - closed a year or so ago. It was really good.

I’ve been to Boston Burger Co. (Davis Square, right?), and while it was good, I haven’t been dying to go back.

Now that I think about it, there was one at Central Square that was pretty good. Four Burgers, I think is the place.