Anyone familiar with great fast food knows that Shake Shack is the place to be. This amazing burger joint that started in New York counts celebrities like Tina Fey and even Barack Obama among its many fans. The line ups for the food are famously long, but it’s worth the wait. These are the top ten untold truths of Shake Shack.
10. The name is from an unlikely movie
Shake Shack seems like a perfectly obvious name for a restaurant that specializes in burgers and, well, shakes, but the fact of the matter is that the inspiration for this venerable restaurant’s moniker actually came from somewhere you might not expect. Of course, any major cinephiles might have already figured it out, especially if they also happen to have an affinity for movie musicals. As it turns out, the name for Shake Shack came from none other than the John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John starring vehicle, Grease. This film, which was based on the musical of the same name, was, and still is, massively popular, and had people dancing and singing along with many of its famous musical numbers. While there are people who love “Grease Lightning” and “Beauty School Drop-Out,” probably one of the most popular songs from the movie is the final duet between the stars, “You’re The One That I Want.” At the end of the film, the two main characters, Sandy and Danny, sing this famous duet while making their way through a carnival. They end up dancing on a number of rides and attractions, one of which is a tilting platform called (you guessed it) the Shake Shack. As it turns out, Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer is a huge fan of the musical, and claims that he probably just came up with it because he had seen the movie so many times. It just goes to show that inspiration can strike anywhere!
9. It originally only sold hot dogs
Shake Shack first started as a pop-up in Central Park. It was part of an art installation, and it quickly became a hit due to its legendarily friendly service and great food. However, the Shake Shack of all the way back in 2001 wasn’t known for its hamburgers. In fact, it didn’t even sell them! Instead, Shake Shack trafficked in an entirely different food: hot dogs. These weren’t even just your average hot dogs, either. Sure, anyone can get a hot dog from a cart and slather it in ketchup and mustard, but these hot dogs were actually made Chicago style. What?! Chicago style hot dogs in New York?! Surely people were not on board with this sort of food blasphemy! You might think that to be true, but actually, the hot dogs were a huge hit. So what exactly is a Chicago style hot dog? Well, you start with a regular wiener on a regular bun, easy enough. Then, you add mustard, sweet green relish, chopped onions, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, sport peppers, and a sprinkle of celery salt. Yeah, it’s actually a lot of stuff on a single dog, and the way to order it properly is to ask for the hot dog to be “dragged through the garden.” While the hot dogs sort of fell by the wayside to make room for hamburgers, one thing stayed the same: the sport peppers.
8. The very first menu was written on a napkin
Danny Meyer, Shake Shack’s founder, was so excited about the opportunity to permanently open a restaurant in Central Park, that he pledged to donate some of the restaurant’s earnings to the park in exchange for a business permit. IT was a done deal, and Shake Shack was on its way to becoming a New York institution. Unfortunately, it had a bit of a rough start in its original incarnation and actually lost money for its first three years. However, Meyer was inspired by the number of people who came to the restaurant, and knew that he had to keep going and chasing his dream. He decided that he wanted the restaurant to resemble the burger joints of the midwest, where he grew up. He decided that the restaurant would do the standard burgers and fries as well as frozen custards, much like the places he used to eat. He was so excited about the prospect of having an amazing new restaurant, that he came up with the original menu and wrote it all down on a napkin. It only took him nine minutes to come up with the entire thing, and when the time came for the real menu to go into effect, it was essentially the same as what he had written down originally. In fact, the napkin became so famous, that it is currently framed and hanging in the office Randy Garruti, the current Shake Shack CEO.
7. There is a Shake Shack Running Club
Eating burgers, fries, and shakes is a lot of fun (it’s also really, really delicious). However, no one is denying the fact that those things are not exactly great for your health. Really, is anything that tastes that delicious beneficial to your health? Probably not. So what do these places do to balance out their not-so-healthy options? Well, some places offer salads, grilled chicken, and other lean options that are probably just okay, but not really that great for you either. There must be a better way, right? Well, apparently, Shake Shack has figured it out: start a running club. Shake Track and Field is a community run organized by the restaurant that is open to the general public. The club meets on the second Tuesday of every month and generally, the runs last for about an hour, according to the Shake Track and Field website. It’s a great way to get fans of the restaurant out, moving, and getting some fresh air and exercise. Plus, when you get back to the restaurant you get a free drink! That’s not exactly a bad motivator either. It just goes to show that some restaurants really want their clientele to balance both their indulgences and their health.
6. There are different concretes in different locations
Shake Shack may be known for its amazing burgers and fries, but what good is dinner without a little bit of dessert? The delicious frozen treats at Shake Shack are known as concretes, and while the name may be a little intimidating, we guarantee that you would love the flavor. Concretes are the restaurant’s signature frozen custards with plenty of mix-ins to make any frozen dessert fanatic lose their mind. While that would be good enough, the truth is that Shake Shack isn’t going to just stick to serving the same flavors at all of its locations. No way! In fact, the concretes are often customized to match the local desserts of each city. For example, there is a Shake Shack in Philadelphia that utilizes crushed up cannoli shells from the legendary Termini Brothers. Another example is the concrete at the Palm Beach location, which uses broken bits of key lime pie. There are plenty of fast food restaurants that attempt to have local fare incorporated into their menu, but so few of them actually utilize these flavors for desserts. It’s actually really nice to see that Shake Shack isn’t just serving up the same food all over, but rather embracing the flavors that make each city so unique. If more restaurants followed this example, then fast food would probably be a lot more interesting!
5. There is live surveillance monitoring the line
Shake Shack is so popular (how popular is it?!) that people will wait in line for hours on end just to get inside and order one of those delicious burgers and shakes. Now, not everyone has the time or the patience to wait in a line that long. Of course, some people would argue that the line is part of the experience and that the food is more than worth the wait. Really though, who wants to be in a line anywhere, even if at the end of it is a delicious meal? Luckily for shake Shack fans everywhere (and even just the kind of people who like to watch this sort of thing), there is actually a live surveillance camera that monitors the line at the Central Park restaurant at all times. That way, if you ever want to make sure that the line isn’t too long before you head over, you can take a look for yourself on the website to see just how many people are ahead of you. Shake shack might just be the kind of place where you either want to beat the lunch rush or go for a later meal, because at peak times, that line is going to get very, very long, and you don’t want to spend your precious lunch hour waiting in line and never actually reaching the front. That’s the kind of thing that is just going to leave any burger lover feeling dejected and sad.
4. The fries are frozen, but people love them
One of the weirdest things about Shake Shack, considering how much they pride themselves on their food, is their insistence on using frozen, crinkle cut french fries. You would think that a place as great as Shake Shack would want to use freshly cut, beautiful golden straight french fries, or even go the more unconventional route with curly fries like Arby’s (but way better, obviously). Well, the fact of the matter is that people really do love those crinkle cut fries. They may not be perfect, but there’s just something about them that really appeals to people. Clearly, the fries are yet another throwback to Danny Meyer’s midwestern influences. Anyone who has stayed over for dinner at a friend’s place and had their parents make fries has probably had crinkle cut fries, albeit ones that were most likely baked in the oven and therefore not as good. One restaurant critic even had the audacity to openly insult the Shake Shack fries. This led to the restaurant trying out a different type of french fry, one that was going to be a little bit better than the standard crinkle cut variety. However, even though the new fries probably did taste a little better, Shake Shack devotees were not having it. They immediately jumped on the restaurant for daring to change their famous fries. The outcry was so loud, that Shake shack eventually ent back to their old, familiar fries, and everyone was that much happier for it.
3. Bacon was not always an option
It’s hard to think of anything better than a Shake Shack burger. Wait, a Shake Shack cheeseburger! No, wait, a double Shake Shack cheeseburger! No, Wait! A Double Shake Shack cheeseburger… with bacon! Now that sounds like something we can definitely get behind. After all, it’s almost like bacon and cheeseburgers were made for each other, right? So it would be weird to think of a world where Shake Shack didn’t include bacon on its menu. However, that was the sad reality for a long time. Originally, Shake Shack did not feature any items with bacon on its menu, and even though people would have been fine without it, it still probably would have felt like there was something missing. In fact, the restaurant was up, running, and fully operational for a full eight years before bacon was added to the menu. That may seem impossible, but it’s true. That’s due, once again, to Shake Shack’s rigorous standards and commitment to quality. nothing gets added to the menu at Shake Shack without first being tested by some of the greatest culinary minds in the world of fast food. So while it may seem crazy that Shake Shack refused to put bacon on its menu right away, it’s only because they knew that they had to get it just right, and they didn’t want to dive right into having bacon on the menu without first seeing that they could do a good job of it.
2. The peanut butter bacon Shack burger
Speaking of bacon, we need to talk about one of the most sought after secret menu items at Shake Shack. As anyone can tell you, Shake Shack, much like other fast food joints like In-N-Out, has an extensive secret menu, known only to those who are savvy enough to find it. On this secret menu, lies one of the strangest, yet most intriguing burgers in the world of fast food: the peanut butter bacon Shack Burger. So what is on this burger, you ask? It is exactly what it sounds like: bacon and a special peanut butter sauce developed by the restaurant. Is it a strange flavor combination? Definitely, but those who have tried it have described the flavors as being perfectly balanced, and not as weird as you might think. While it’s true that peanut butter on a burger might not exactly be a new thing, Shake Shack definitely made it popular with this secret burger. It’s the kind of burger that you might not want to try at first, but admit it: your curiosity is getting the best of you, and if you ever find yourself at Shake Shack, you might just end up ordering one.
1. The rest of the secret menu
Speaking of a secret menu, the peanut butter bacon Shack burger is not the only secret item that Shake Shack offers. There are plenty of other ways to customize your order and make it even more delicious. Remember how we mentioned those sport peppers earlier when we talked about the Chicago style hot dog? Well, Shake Shack still has them, and you can ask for them on anything, including your burger or your cheese fries. If you are of legal drinking age, you may also know that Shake Shack carries a wide variety of great beers. They also make their lemonade, and if you order a ‘shandy,’ they will actually mix one of their beers with a lemonade of your choice. It’s a refreshing option on a hot summer day, and would go really well with a quad burger. Oh we’re sorry, did we not mention the quad burger yet? That’s four patties and four slices of cheese on one sandwich for you. IT’s exactly the kind of thing that any burger lover should try to conquer.