Sitting in Madison Square Park and enjoying the company of fellow New Yorkers under the watchful eye of the titans that are the Metlife building, One Madison Park and the Flatiron building, has become a daily routine for many residents in the Gramercy area, after the park’s renovation in 2001. However there is one building that catches the eye more than these impressive skyscrapers- the Shake Shack.
A small, eco friendly restaurant situated by an entrance, just inside the park, Shake Shack does not look out of place. Having the most envied location of all eateries in the area, the Shack has been churning out its signature Shackburger, Chicago-style hotdogs and cheese fries, all whilst giving Gramercy residents, new comers and tourists some space to relax and enjoy their meals.
Brandon, 20, a student from the New School, felt the location was excellent, saying, “I could sit here for one and a half hours, not having any food and still enjoy myself.” While sitting under the umbrella heaters provided by the Shack, and enjoying his vanilla shake and cheese fries, Brandon did stress that he came here for the food, but with the décor being Madison Square Park, “its hard to say no” to Shake Shack. Lee, 20, a student from NYU mentioned that, “I can see the shack from anywhere in the park.” Madhuri, 19, said that she imagined the popularity of the shack would sky rocket in the summer.
Shake Shack opened in 2004 under the guidance of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. An instant success the New York Magazine named it Best Burger in 2005. It went on to win numerous awards and expand to other parts of New York. In 2010 the first Shake Shack outside of New York opened in Miami, with two more planning on being unveiled in Saratoga Springs and Kuwait. SITE, an architectural and environmental design firm designed the first Shack in Madison Square Park.
The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, after looking over the construction and sustainability plans, gave the Shack a permit in 2004 allowing it to be built in the park. This public record could not be accessed, and the Shake Shack offices declined to comment on its whereabouts.
The location of the Shack gives it an edge over its competitors in the area claims Jimmy, 35, who works at Press, across the street from Madison Square Park. “There are a lot of offices around and during lunchtime there is a lot of food traffic in the park.” Jimmy went on to say that there is enough business for everyone, but the Shack reaps the most rewards. The manager at NY Burger Co. did not comment, saying he was not at liberty to discuss the business or it’s competitors.
The Shack is famous for its food and location, but with such popularity they run the risk of losing customers due to the long lines they rack up. As he waited at Fresh and Fast Burgers for his order, Mohamed, 34, said that the location might be an advantage but, “I come here because the lines are too long.”