Close up of homemade mini burgers with stew beef, tomatoes and basil on wooden background, Modern delicious fast food, Low angle view. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The Nostalgic Foods That Inspired Shake Shack's Menu
By Aimee Lamoureux
Founded by St. Louis-born chef and restaurateur Danny Meyer in 2001, Shake Shack got its humble start as a little hot dog cart parked in Madison Square Park. Taking inspiration from the foods of the Midwest, Meyer began selling Chicago-style hot dogs, which were something of a novelty in New York City back then.
According to Shake Shack's CEO Randy Garutti, "it was Danny's Midwest upbringing" that really helped set the tone of the menu, even early on. By 2004, the hot dog stand had become a fixture of Madison Square Park, and Meyer had also won the bid to open a permanent structure in the park, as part of Madison Square Park’s rejuvenation plan.
In July 2004, the temporary cart reopened as a permanent fast-food kiosk, and the menu expanded. Meyer continued to take inspiration from nostalgic foods he remembered from his childhood growing up in the Midwest, while attempting to make them “taste even better” than how he remembered them.
"We wanted to look at everything fast food ruined over the last 60 years and just do it right," Garutti explained. Now, with over 360 Shake Shack locations operating worldwide and annual revenue of $739.9 million as of 2021, it's probably safe to say Shake Shack and their nostalgic Midwestern menu have accomplished that goal.