Shack Attack

The ‘Shacking of America’ Has Commenced

Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine

Today’s Times traces the evolution of Union Square Hospitality Group’s Shake Shack from its origins as a one-off retro hot-dog cart to its newfound status as a player on the global restaurant scene. The original Shake Shack, it turns out, was designed as part of a 2001 art installation in Madison Square Park; next year, a bunch of new locations — including a Kuwait flagship — are set to open. And hey, why not? Each Manhattan Shake Shack reportedly rings up a staggering $4 million in sales annually. In addition to previously reportedly Shack sites in Miami and Nolita, the article identifies two more locations — one at 86th and Lexington and the other on the corner of 44th Street and Eighth Avenue — that will soon be firing up their Miraclean griddles.

Dubbing him “the Yoda of Shake Shack,” the article appropriately extracts a few nuggets of existential wisdom from Danny Meyer that help explain the enormous success of the restaurant’s burgers and frozen custard. While other fast-food restaurants engorge the customers with “as many unhealthy calories as possible,” then push them back out the door, Shake Shack treats its customers with made-to-order food and “a communal experience,” apparently. “That stripping away of human experience?” Meyer asks, “That is where fast food went astray.”

The new Manhattan Shake Shacks will open next year, and after that, well, the sky’s the limit. Except for Boston, where USHG has been eyeing a potential Shake Shack location on the Boston Common; so far, the article reports, locals are not having it. In Boston, it turns out, the restaurant’s namesake milkshakes are call frappés.

The Accidental Empire of Fast Food [NYT]

The ‘Shacking of America’ Has Commenced