How Shake Shack Keeps Sizzling

By When They Were Startups FOXBusiness

Shake Shack's recipe for success

Before Shake Shack was a sizzling burger chain that wowed Wall Street with a tasty IPO it was an idea born from a simple hot dog cart in a New York City park.

CEO Randy Garutti’s passion for his fast-food restaurants is palpable, “Shake Shack just has a magic. It has a thing that people want to be around” he said. As one of the fastest growing fast-food chains, it’s a hard sentiment to dispute.

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How It All Began

If you can believe it, fine-dining is responsible for the birth Shake Shack (SHAK). At the time, Garutti and celebrated chef Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, were running Eleven Madison Park, a popular, upscale Manhattan restaurant. Across the street, efforts were underway to restore Madison Square Park, and Meyer and Garutti were committed to helping. As Garutti puts it, “As with all great neighborhood rejuvenations, it always starts with art.” In this case, an artist in the area, unbeknownst to him, began what would become the blue print for Shack Shake. He requested that a hot dog stand accompany his exhibit, I <3 Taxi.

Danny Meyer Comes to the Rescue

Meyer and Garutti never dreamed of the popularity surrounding the hot dog stand. With each passing day and week, the line stretched further and further. During this time, the kitchen of the hot dog cart was hardly more than a couple of coolers. Workers quickly ran back and forth between the stand and Eleven Madison Park for supplies to keep pace with the crowd. Garutti explains that some of the organization’s best people started at that hot dog stand.

From a Hot Dog Cart to a Billion Dollar Company

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In 2003, the city approached Meyer and Garutti with an opportunity to make the hot dog stand a permanent kiosk in the park. Garutti recalls, “I’ll never forget on that day, Danny wrote on the back of a scrap paper sketch in pencil of what Shake Shack should be.” With that, Garutti set out to create the modern form of an American, old roadside burger-stand.

The Bigger We Get, The Smaller We Have to Act

As Shake Shack grows, Garutti’s commitment to treating each location as the most important location strengthens. “That means every time we look at each other and make a big decision for this big, growing company, we consider how thoughtful and intimate and special that restaurant needs to be. And if we can do that every time, we’re going to keep growing,” he promises.

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