Writing & Photography by Chris Perez
Shake Shack’s first Texas location opens May 5th in Austin’s rapidly developing Lamar Union district. We talked with the founders to learn about the Shake Shack origins, how the enterprise keeps it local with Uchi concrete and Lockhart sausage, and what their motto “stand for something good” really means.
THE ORIGINS OF SHAKE SHACK HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH SHAKES
The origins of Shake Shack had nothing to do with shakes and everything to do with hot dogs in an art park. In 2001, the hot-dog-cart-that-would-become-Shake-Shack, was launched as part of the redevelopment of Madison Square Park. Getting people to line up for Chicago style hot dogs was not only good business for restauranteur Danny Meyer, but also good for lowering crime and raising awareness about the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s restoration efforts. Shake Shake would eventually see itself grow into a kiosk-style restaurant at the park, where it then expanded its menu to include burgers, fries, and those eponymous shakes. The Austin Shake Shake is the enterprise’s 68th location, 41st in the US, and 1st in Texas.
Founders and CEO’s Danny Meyer and Randy Garutti think their original concept was successful because it had deep roots with the community. That’s why local integration is part of the formula for expansion, from the menu to the local non-profits each location gives back to. “Whenever we go anywhere, we want to be a mirror of that community,” says founder and CEO Randy Garutti.
The Lockhart Link Burger
The Veggie Burger
The Order: Uchi-Koncrete, Fries, Lockhart Link Burger
Special Austin exclusive items include the Lockhart Link Burger (a cheeseburger crowned with a Kreuz Market sausage link from Lockhart) and the insta-famous Uchi-Koncrete (vanilla custard with chunks of miso hazelnut blondie and swirls of huckleberry jam). And as part of the “Stand for Something Good” motto, 5% of sales of Uchi-koncrete benefits Austin Pets Alive (the staff at each location picks a nonprofit to support).
You’ll still find the hot dogs that made their cart famous, but Shake Shack is really all about burgers now. Wine, beer, and of course, shakes make the burger joint feel more like a restaurant than a fast-food chain. Even the interior is designed to show that this is something special, from indoor park benches to reflect the original location and local elements – like a wall made of Texas pecan – that celebrate Shake Shack’s newest home.
Burger joints are like coffee shops – the market doesn’t seem to become saturated until they exist within every square mile of Austin. And Shake Shack should manage to succeed in a city that screams “LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL” by partnering with big Austin names from everything to the architecture (Michael Hsu) to the food (Uchi) to the wine and beer (Hops & Grain). The burgers are good, the fries are fine, and the shakes and koncrete are worth standing in line for.
Eat like the founders and put these orders in…
Randy Garutti – Lockhart Link Burger, Cheese Fries, and Black & White shake
Danny Meyer – Shack Burger with a slice of raw onion, Fries, coffee Fair Shake
Their veggie burger – a fried mushroom with a fondue of cheese – is a standout that shouldn’t be overlooked.
1100 South Lamar Blvd, Suite 2100
• Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11 AM – 10 PM, Friday & Saturday, 11 AM – 11 PM
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