By Annie Zhang
16 years ago, Madison Square Park in New York City had deteriorated due to misuse. In 2000, a hot dog cart was opened there in order to support an art exhibit that would raise awareness of the park’s reconstruction. Today, that hot dog cart has been replaced by a fast-food restaurant chain—Shake Shack. Having come a long way from its humble beginnings, the restaurant has become one of the fastest growing food chains in America. In fact, two months ago, Shake Shack opened its second restaurant on Long Island, conveniently located in the Lake Success Shopping Center in New Hyde Park.
From the outside of Shake Shack, I could already see the bustling business of the restaurant, which is usually filled close to its 80-person maximum capacity. Once I entered, I was immediately met with the smell of all-natural angus beef burgers and the sight of wooden tables with green-lettered white signs that advertised the restaurant’s eco-friendly initiative—undoubtedly similar to Great Neck’s Bareburger.
Despite its apparent resemblance to Bareburger, Shake Shack’s menu is actually very distinct. Known for its all-natural angus beef burgers, Shake Shack also offers fries, frozen custard, concretes, and namesake milkshakes. Since Shake Shack is a fast-food restaurant, the relatively inexpensive food arrived rather quickly. My friends and I sat down with all our food, totaling $25, within a mere five minutes. To my surprise, I found that Shake Shack’s burgers are slightly smaller than Bareburger’s, making them much easier to manage. Even when drenched in oil, the burger was quite scrumptious. In addition to the angus beef burgers, there is also a considerate vegetarian option: a cheesy mushroom burger.
The small burger left room for the variety of desserts and sides. The large quantity of cheesy fries tasted more potato-like and authentic than other fast-food fries. However, the Shakenstein, a green, artificially colored milkshake, was extremely sweet. I felt like I was developing a stomach-ache with every sip I took from the unappetizingly huge cup. Similarly, the Malt Whitman, a frozen custard composed of vanilla ice cream and chocolate chunks, was surely saturated with sugar. It was pleasant in small amounts, but unappealing otherwise. Even with a group of four people, we were barely able to finish our entire five-item, 3000-calorie order.
Although the food was nothing special, the environment Shake Shack created was memorable. As they advertise, Shake Shack is genuinely clean and eco-friendly. The many employees constantly clean up tables and bathrooms, leaving the area essentially spotless. The food quality is also considerably high since their cows are free roaming, vegetable fed, and antibiotic and hormone free. The free triple-filtered water is additionally notable. Unlike other fast-food restaurants that seem to ignore their impact on the environment, Shake Shack promotes an environmentally friendly initiative. Every restaurant is constructed with sustainable and recycled materials; all the wooden tables are handcrafted from reclaimed wood. The New Hyde Park tables in particular are made of recycled wood from an abandoned Brooklyn bowling alley while the walls are constructed with antique barn siding. Not only does Shake Shack recycle, but it also proactively reduces its environmental impact. Every Shake Shack restaurant boasts an energy-efficient kitchen and lighting, creating a pleasant, environmentally conscious atmosphere.
Though Shake Shack highlights its eco-friendly initiative, I feel that its Stand for Something Good movement, which is its way to give back to the community, is not emphasized enough. Each Shake Shack has a local charity partner. The New Hyde Park location coordinates with and supports The Cohen Children’s Medical Center down the street. In fact, five percent of the proceeds of the Malt Whitman, one of their most popular items, go directly to the medical center. In addition, the community manager strives to arrange events at the medical center where employees can volunteer. On Oct. 29, the New Hyde Park Shake Shack hosted its first event at the hospital. The employees asked the children to draw their ideal concrete, which is a mixture of frozen custard and toppings. The children were overjoyed, using bright colors to illustrate creative concretes such as the “creamsicle” and “chocolate with marshmallows.” Then, to the children’s surprise, the employees brought actual concretes for the children to enjoy. This event reminded me that restaurants often represent much more than what’s on the plate. I highly recommend visiting Shake Shack if you want to socialize in an excellent environment, support a good cause, or even eat a tasty burger once in a while.