I was reminiscing the other day about the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park in New York. “Hey, remember when we waited an hour in line for a slightly above-average burger and fries with a shake that makes you want to pass out afterwards from being full?” The line was so legendary that it had its own live webcam so you can see how long it would take.
That was 2004. Now, Danny Meyer’s cash cow is an IPO with locations in 10 U.S. states, D.C., United Kingdom, Russia, Istanbul, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. There’s a reason we went to war in Iraq in the 90s … freedom for Kuwait to get American burgers.
Here’s the thing. Places like New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and London are loaded with burger spots. While waiting in a 50-deep line (as below in London), tourists can look on their phones and easily find a superior burger.
I have nothing against the Shack. It’s good for what it is — simple, no-nonsense with better quality ingredients from the fast food joints of the world. There’s two in Jersey and they are perfect acceptable if you need a simple lunch fix.
It’s a tourist thing to visit places that you can go to anywhere in the world. It’s that thing where families coming from far off lands to New York to shop at the Gap.
The epic line at the Shake Shack near Times Square is ridiculous. Same with the Magnolia Bakery’s line. It crowds the sidewalk on 8th Avenue with half of that space taken up by tourists’ over-sized backpacks. Just because there’s a line doesn’t mean it’s worth the wait.
In that same time while you are waiting, you can go to J.G. Melon in New York or Patty & Bun in London. You can’t get those burgers anywhere else.