Motor City, meet Shake Shack
BY ERIN BEN-MOCHE
OU News Bureau
Hundreds of Detroiters gathered near downtown’s Campus Martius Park on Feb. 23 to welcome Shake Shack’s first Michigan restaurant.
At 11 a.m., doors opened and the crowd wrapped around the First National Building. Shake Shack has locations in 16 major cities, including Chicago and New York, and in more than a dozen countries.
“We’re thrilled to bring Shake Shack to the Motor City,” said Randy Garutti, Shake Shack CEO. “The resurgence of Detroit celebrates its storied past and the bright future ahead. We’re honored to play a small part and looking forward to immersing ourselves into the community and contributing to downtown Detroit’s placemaking movement.”
Since its opening in 2004, Shake Shack has earned its cult-like following offering burgers made with 100 percent all-natural, antibiotic-free Angus beef, fresh produce and fresh-made frozen shakes and concretes.
Detroit shack’s media director, Stella Shi, said the downtown Detroit Shack created a selection of frozen concretes — Shake Shack’s frozen custard mixed with toppings — aimed toward the city. The Motor City Mix incorporates chocolate from Detroit business Bon Bon Bon, Pie Oh My showcases local pie company Sister Pie, and Shack Attack Detroit edition uses Zingerman’s Black Magic brownies and products provided by Mast Brothers.
Shake Shack is also teaming up with local nonprofits by donating 5 percent of its Pie Oh My sales to Detroit’s Gleaners Community Food Bank.
Menswear designer and Detroit native John Varvatos collaborated with Shake Shack to create a T-shirt that embodies the spirit of the city. It is now sold at the Downtown Detroit Shake Shack and online.
Kale Davidoff, founder of Detroit pop-culture website Woodwords, said he was pleasantly surprised to hear about the food chain’s incorporation of local products. As someone who has seen Detroit’s growth firsthand, he thinks the collaboration should be dealt with carefully.
“I think when you’re revitalizing the downtown area, there’s always a delicate balance to be found between populating the area with local places and chain (or out-of-state) franchises,” Davidoff said. “It’s awesome to see places like Shake Shack dedicate themselves to our local flavor and the community. I think it’s a big step.”
Allison Hendricks, content writer for Opportunity Detroit, had been anxiously waiting in line for 20 minutes before the clock struck 11.
“I think this place offers a huge interest to the city,” Hendricks said. “It provides a lot of jobs because Shake Shack hires locally and it raises the economic value and excitement value to Detroit that it needs right now.”
Shake Shack isn’t the only large corporation locating itself in Detroit. Nike, Quicken Loans and Wahlburgers also made the move during the past decade.
“It is really exciting,” Davidoff said. “This stuff never used to come here, but now you see announcements like this all the time. It shows that other people from around the country are excited about what’s happening in Detroit.”
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