Pulling them in

Epicurean and design delight

Headed back from a long trip abroad, we had a day to spend in New York. As lunchtime approached, on a gorgeous (and low humidity) day, we decided to try the famous Shake Shack in Madison Square Park (night shot above). This “50’s burger-shack-modern”-style structure was impressive. Its scale is small and nestles in a corner of the park; the roof and back wall are covered with vine-wrapped trellises to help blend in with surrounding foliage; the bold signage and cool menu graphics are fun without feeling trendy.   It was designed by the NYC firm SITE and opened 7 years ago.

Believe it or not, it was worth the wait

Above is a shot of the line (roughly 30 minutes) that we stood in; initially we were dubious,  but as friends realized where we were, they sent jealous messages assuring us we were in for a treat. Indeed we were–right-sized portions of fantastic, fresh food, perfectly suited to the setting.  Birmingham continues to strengthen its foodie culture, with local chefs receiving national awards regularly.  Perhaps the new Barons baseball park to be constructed downtown could showcase similar, creative food concepts rather than the predictable chains. If we construct a new neighborhood, let’s entice the best of local talent to help sate our appetites.

UPDATE: For an in-depth article on Shake Shack’s creator, Danny Meyer, see the article from yesterday’s New York Times Magazine.

[thanks to wallyg for the night pic]

10 responses to “Pulling them in

  1. i used to work right across 23rd street from the shake shake. it was the hardest thing to say goodbye to in manhattan.

  2. I love everything Danny Meyer does in NY. He started Union Square Cafe when the area was sketchy as hell. Do something wonderful and people will come to you, wherever you are.

    • Yes–hard to believe, but Union Square was indeed somewhat sketchy back in 1985 when Meyer opened his restaurant. I remember as late as the early ’90s being mildly curious as to why this high-end restaurant was booked constantly, in such an “off-the-beaten-track” neighborhood. Besides Strand Books there wasn’t much else. So you are absolutely right, if it’s done well people will make the trip. Or stand in line!

  3. 30 minutes would have been a blessing…we spent about an hour in line in March. Delicious as usual though! My new favorite lunch spot is Luke’s Lobster on the UES though.

  4. Thanks for personal report on the Shake Shack. I read the piece in NYTimes Magazined yesterday and was very intrigued by this concept. Couldn’t help wishing Meyer would open one here but your idea of a local take on this would be great. Thanks.

  5. Nationals Stadium in DC has food from local joints but also, new this year, Steak Shack. Their ballpark venue looks similar to the one in your photo (font and the words running around etc.).

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