Checking Out the Upper East Side Shake Shack

Is that butter on the Shack Burger's bun?

When the first Shake Shack opened in Madison Square Park in 2004 -- with some grumbling about public space being appropriated for private uses -- it was a revelation and an instant hit. Burgers, fries, hot dogs, frozen custard, all like you might find in a kiosk in a municipal park in a small Midwestern city -- duck pond, tiny amusement park train, and bandshell with patriotic bunting and all.

Looking down into the restaurant through the street-level window is like having your own personal human aquarium.

Oh, yeah, but with certain sophisticated big-city flourishes, like scintillatingly fresh tomatoes and lettuce, an elevated bun, and a patty that represents a cunning combination of meats.

But the original location quickly lost its viability as lines ran around the park so that any self-respecting person had to ask herself: "Am I crazy enough to wait an hour for a small hamburger?"

This type of success would engender greater ambitions in anyone, including Danny Meyer, if only to engrave a new and more excellent chapter in the Book of Fast Food. So, the place was cloned in various parts of Manhattan, and soon thereafter around the world, so that even Eater probably hasn't kept track of all the iterations. (According to the website, there are 13 currently in operation, including one in Dubai. Does Dubai really deserve one?)

These are not bistro fries, but they do well enough in this context.

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