An indisputable East Coast favorite sets up shop in the Bay
The Santa Clara
January 31, 2019
If you’re from the East Coast or happen to have a talkative East Coast friend with a fetish for fast food, then you’ve probably heard of Shake Shack.
In the latter case, maybe that’s the only restaurant you ever hear about.
“Yes,” they ’ll say. “It’s that good.”
With the opening of a brand new storefront in Palo Alto, you can now test Shake Shack’s worth for yourself.
But you might want to think twice before embarking on the lengthy journey to its location—and the even lengthier journey from the end of the line to the screens where you can finally order your food.
Shake Shack, a fast-casual burger joint, started in 2001 as a hot dog cart in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park.
Since then, the marketable brand rapidly expanded, and today Shake Shack enjoys more than 150 physical restaurants internationally—with a heavy concentration back East.
The new location in the comparatively nearby Stanford Shopping Center marks the Bay Area’s first Shake Shack.
Relying primarily on its famous selection of mouth-watering burgers, Shake Shack provides options for all ranges of eaters.
In addition to the standard Shackburger, the meat-free, mushroom-filled Shroom Burger and the classic Veggie Burger give vegetarians some choices, and a host of hot dogs styles connects the restaurant to its roots. The potential to completely customize each dish makes the establishment perfect for the pickiest of eaters.
The burgers taste fresh and feel healthier than faster fare like McDonald’s, but the unmemorable flavors don’t stand head and shoulders above similar dishes like those from Habit Burger.
For comparison, the burgers from In-n- Out offer at least as much freshness, and the flavor reigns unique. You can only get In-n-Out at In-n-Out.
Of course, at a place called Shake Shack, burgers aren’t the only menu item of interest. Thankfully.
Each sip of the shakes comes with the sweetness and creaminess of any self-respecting malt shop’s finest offerings, with the luscious Cookies’n Cream shake standing out amongst usual flavor suspects like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
But, once again, the flavors are only enjoyable—not distinctive.
Making matters worse, patrons practically spend more time waiting to order the food than they do digesting it.
The line to even enter the building juts into the outside seating, extending down a sidewalk through the mall parking lot.
Around dinner time, the line can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, and that wait is just to make an order.
Inside, a series of touchscreens enable patrons to personalize and place their order, but with only two of the six units operational for large swaths of time, the technology is less efficient than even the most distracted cashier.
Seating is also a major issue. Despite the hipness of the sleek, industrial design straight out of an early 2000s music video, the seating options cannot support the number of patrons carrying trays with piping hot burgers and ice-cold shakes—and they certainly cannot accommodate the extensive line, leading to a bizarre, survival-of-the-fittest fight for chairs.
At one point, a bristly young man charged at a grandma saving seats for her family at a table. Towering over her, he asked if her family had ordered their food yet.
She pointed to her family. They were indeed ordering at that precise moment.
Dissatisfied with this response, the ever-so-prickly young man informed the grandma that he had the right to kick her out since she had taken the seats before her family had ordered.
She refused to budge, so he obnoxiously sat next to her and started devouring his burger, forcing the grandma to sit with the rude sounds of crunching lettuce from his open mouth.
If this competitive encounter sounds like the exact opposite of appetizing, maybe you should consider saving your time and not making the trip in the first place—no matter how quality the food is.
Contact Brandon Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.