Kyle Dureau Wants Shake Shack to Be Open 24/7 As Much As You Do

“People that kept walking up would be like, ‘Oh, please, can we just get on line — I'll give you $20, $50…’”
“People that kept walking up would be like, ‘Oh, please, can we just get on line — I'll give you $20, $50…’”haha Photo: Melissa Hom

Forty-three-year-old Kyle Dureau was working at Terrace 5 at MoMA when he was transferred to that other Danny Meyer outdoor eatery, the Shake Shack, three years ago. He still divides his time between the Shack — where he mans the cashier, makes custards, and flips the city’s most coveted burgers — and Blue Smoke, but the Shack will probably become his year-round home if certain rumors of expansion prove true. We got him to spill the beans (the ‘shrooms?) on those and other Shack secrets.

What’s the secret of the Shack Burger?
It’s brisket and sirloin and fat that’s ground all together. We season it with salt and pepper. We grill the potato buns with butter and toast them on the inside, which gives them a nice crispiness. And we have a homemade mayonnaise Shack sauce. They add some spices and a little chipotle and ketchup and some seasonings.

Do people make weird requests?
Some want it seasoned with celery salt. One customer used to bring their own whole-grain bread, and we would have to toast it.

When is it possible to just walk right up to the window and get a quick burger?
First thing in the morning and when it rains. The other time is in the middle of the afternoon; maybe 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.

You increased your grill space this year, but it doesn’t seem to have sped things up.
A lot of times when it’s really busy, it’s not possible to get an even flow. When the cashiers start punching tickets really fast, we can’t pump the food out as fast as they punch it up.

What about the rumor that someone paid $1,000 to skip the line? Do people ever try to bribe you?
At the end of the night, they send someone to the end of the line to stop it. People that kept walking up would be like, “Oh, please, can we just get on line — I’ll give you $20, $50…” I’ve never heard about $1,000.

Have VIPs ever had to wait in line?
Jon Stewart. Tim Allen came by, and Brad Garrett. Uma Thurman was there. The people behind them don’t even know it’s them.

What are the funnier names people have given at the window?
One guy calls himself Spider-Man. We’ve had Superman and Batman. One lady comes all the time and calls herself Hungry.

How did the staff feel about getting cited by the Department of Health for health violations? How are you holding up these days?
I was a little embarrassed. Most of the violations were mechanical— we did have flies, but we got machinery that keeps the flies out.

What do you guys eat for lunch?
We do a family meal in the morning; we get our delivery from Hudson Yards catering. After that we have to stand in our stations for the rest of the day.

So you’re working from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.? Where do you go to the bathroom?
There’s a restroom right below us. The Park offices are downstairs below the Shack. That was one of the Health Department things last year — we had to go across the street to Eleven Madison to use the restroom. That was too far and took too long.

What’s on the horizon?
I heard they might be opening somewhere in Chicago or Central Park or maybe downtown. I heard they’re looking at properties to open up another one. This year they’re going to stay open all year; that’s the rumor going around.