Since its humble beginnings in 2004, Shake Shack has taken the throne as the East Coast’s burger powerhouse, guided by the midas touch of restaurateur, Danny Meyer.
The brand’s regional locations and global popularity (check out the frenzy in the Middle East) has made Shake Shack a stockholder’s dream, too. With big plans to move to the West Coast, many are questioning whether or not it can compete against local legends like Umami Burger and In-N-Out. But if the brand’s huge success on Wall Street is indicative of its future, Shake Shack might be destined for nothing but success.
We dug through the franchise’s rich history to find out the backstory behind what made this brand the powerhouse that it is today. From installing live feeds to monitor long lines, to revolutionary burger collaborations, here are 10 facts you didn’t know about Shake Shack.
1. Shake Shack broke into the scene by serving hot dogs.
— House Small Business (@HouseSmallBiz) May 14, 2015
Shake Shack wasn’t always the giant burger empire that it is today. The restaurant came from humble beginnings, starting with a hot dog stand which appeared during the summers of 2001-2003 in Madison Square Park. The stand supported Madison Square Park Conservancy’s first art installation, “I Heart Taxi,” and was so popular that it returned for two additional summers. Come 2004, Shake Shack was born—earning itself a permanent spot in MSP.
2. Culinary hero Dan Barber once released a limited-edition veggie burger.
Shake Shack is known for their proteins, but thanks to the open-mindedness of Meyer, the company has collaborated with several high-profile chefs over the years. For one day only, Shake Shack decided to feature Dan Barber’s revolutionary veggie burger. Barber’s wastED Juice Pulp Cheeseburger got some pretty mixed reviews, but the idea that a fast-food chain served something made from recycled vegetable pulp and stale rye bread is pretty astounding.
3. The Madison Square Park Shake Shack has a live feed camera.
Shake Shack’s OG location in Madison Square Park, notorious for drawing long lines, does a huge favor for its loyal patrons—it allows you to monitor crowd activity from your computer. (A handy tool to use during new product launches.)
4. You can order a grilled cheese, an ice cream sandwich, and more off the secret menu.
— michaelj (@mikesenich) July 24, 2014
If you truly want to come across as a true Shake Shack connoisseur, you must know the restaurant’s secret-menu hacks. Vegetarians might take delight in a grilled cheese sandwich or pepper cheese fries. For a next-level dessert, try the Shake Shack beer float, or some ice cream sandwiched between a burger bun.
5. Shake Shack refuses to install drive-thrus.
For those of you praying for the day where you’ll be able to wait out the long Shack Shack lines in your car, we have some bad news for you. CEO Randy Garutti once told the Connecticut Post,”we spend five times what a fast food chain spends on design. Their model is to get you in and out … We will never do a drive through.”
6. The concept for the Shake Shack empire was sketched on the back of a napkin.
— Joseph Abraham (@kjosephabraham) June 11, 2015
Although Shake Shack began as a hot dog stand, CEO Randy Garutti always had big plans for the restaurant. Inspiration can truly hit you anywhere, which might have bene why Garutti opted to sketch his ideas for the Shake Shack menu on the back of a napkin. (Check out his notes regarding the tuna burger that never came to fruition.) But many of the menu classics do appear on the napkin. Shout out to the custard and Chicago dog.
7. Shake Shack will cater your wedding.
Hearing wedding bells? Met your husband-to-be waiting in line for a burger in Madison Square Park? Then follow the lead of lovebirds Gabriel Trujillo and Vanessa Valdez, who had big plans for their wedding day and wanted Shake Shack to be apart of it. So much so that the couple decided to create a video pleading Garutti to craft some burgers for their special day. After talking with Shake Shack’s Director of Operations, Trujillo noted “they are totally game with helping us out and even offered to make/name a custom custard flavor for our special day (how cool is that?!).” Dreams really do come true.
8. Tina Fey, Aziz Ansari, and President Obama love it.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 17, 2014
Over the years, several big-time celebrities have professed their love for the restaurant. Comedian Aziz Ansari once filmed an interview while standing in line at Shake Shack’s Madison Square Park location, because nothing gets between him and his burgers. Tina Fey’s ideal day includes hitting up the Shake Shack on the Upper West Side. Even the POTUS himself was spotted having a pretty great time with Vice President Joe Biden at a Shake Shack location in Dupoint Circle.
9. The I.P.O. says the company is worth billions.
— Jessie Evans (@jessieeevans) January 13, 2016
While some fast-food restaurants are experiencing record-breaking lows on Wall Street, Shake Shack has proved doubters wrong. After the burger titan went public last January, everyone wanted a piece of the company. According to Bloomberg, Shake Shack made a splash as it entered the stock market and valued at $1.6 billion. Stock prices even jumped from $21 per share to “$45.90 at the close of the market.”
10. A Momofuku-Shake Shack Shrimp Burger caused the longest line ever.
We came, we saw, we burgered. We had an epic line today for @davidchang’s special edition Momofuku Shrimp Stack. 450+ people at its peak–longest line in Shack history. We sold out around 3:30pm just like yesterday. See ya tomorrow for Andrew Zimmern’s collab burger! #shakeshack #davidchang #momofukushrimpstack #decadeofshack
Shake Shack lunch rushes are a nightmare. The company should have known that bringing David Chang into the mix would only make those lines even longer. The limited-edition “Shrimp Stack Burger” that he created triggered one of “the longest lines Shake Shack had ever seen” within just 30 minutes of opening its doors.