November: Shake Shack
Euclid Avenue is a mixed-use district that is extremely walkable and offers a unique range of amenities and attractions! Global cuisine, retail spaces, coffee houses, gyms and a diverse range of residential opportunities - Euclid has it all! For the month of October, we decided to sit down and chat with Ryan-- the General Manager of Operations at Shake Shack.
Shake Shack was founded by St. Louis native Danny Meyer, a restaurateur, and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group. Part of Meyer's approach to being a restaurateur is being active in the community, and in the early 2000s Meyer helped to spearhead the redevelopment efforts in Madison Square Park in New York City with the creation of the Madison Square Park Conservancy. What started as a Chicago-style hot dog vendor at a 2001 fundraiser led to a permanent kiosk in 2004-- the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. The park kiosk was extremely successful, and this led to its chain expansion beginning in 2010.
Shake Shack is a modern version of the classic roadside burger stand. "It's a throwback to the American smash-style cheeseburger, fries, milkshakes-- all the things that put smiles on people's faces," says Ryan. The restaurant's motto, "stand for something good," is both a play on words as a throwback to their origin as a food stand and the way the company filters every decision made. Whether that's the way its employees are treated, where they source their ingredients or their approach to community involvement, the company leans into this phrase to operate a brand and business they can be proud of.
The Euclid South Shake Shack opened in December 2017, and Ryan moved from Philadelphia to St. Louis to open this location. Founder Danny Meyer wanted to bring a location to his hometown and wanted it to function as a warm community gathering space. The Central West End neighborhood seemed like a good fit with its walkability, mixed-use buildings and proximity to Forest Park and the medical centers.
Shake Shack employs about 50 people. The restaurant offers "fine casual" dining, which balances the attention to detail and quality of fine dining with the accessibility of casual dining. To Ryan, this is something that makes Shake Shack unique, along with its approach to hospitality. "Just because you're ordering at a counter doesn't mean you can't get the same level of hospitality you would get at a full-service restaurant." And that hospitality starts with the way the staff takes care of each other, which is something Ryan hopes that customers can feel each time they come in.
In the next five years, the company's goal is to have 450 domestic locations, with one-third of its business international. Shake Shack will continue to strive for a smart, well-executed concept for investors, while also staying true to its roots with each location being unique and "of the community."
Shake Shack believes in extending hospitality beyond the restaurant's walls, and one way the Euclid South location does this is through its partnership with Forest Park Forever. 5% of all sales from the Pie Oh My concrete (seasonal pies from local vendors blended into ice cream) go to Forest Park Forever. The restaurant also works with local food banks and values volunteering. Shake Shack offers team members volunteer opportunities at fundraising events for Forest Park Forever. This gives staff a chance to spend time with each other, leaders and managers, all while doing good for a local cause.
One thing Ryan wants the Central West End neighborhood to know about the business is that it strives to be unique and specific to the area. He wants Shake Shack to be a part of the community rather than an outsider moving in. Some of his favorite things about the neighborhood are how close it is to Forest Park, the frequency of events happening there and the number of visitors that come through to explore the area from these events. Ryan is proud to see Shake Shack as a place that provides meals for people working nearby and as a hangout spot for nearby residents.
Shake Shack is opening a new location in Ladue Crossing Shopping Center this Spring!