Shake Shack to Open in Westport in 2011

Fries and a ShackBurger, Shake Shack’s acclaimed cheeseburger. ShackBurgers are made of a proprietary blend of freshly-ground and hand-formed premium beef, topped with American cheese, green leaf lettuce, plum tomato and ShackSauce on a grilled potato bun. | Photo by Ben Reiser '13.

Shake Shack, a contemporary roadside burger and hot dog stand, will be opening new doors in Westport during the second half of 2011. The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission, along with Shake Shack itself, plan to open the restaurant at 1849 Post Road East, the site of the recently closed Pho Mekong Thai-Vietnamese Noodle House and Restaurant.

Shake Shack first opened as a burger stand in New York City’s Madison Square Park in July of 2004. The idea for the stand was conceived by restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group—a New York-based organization that has created and developed some of New York’s prominent fine dining locations, such as The Modern and Eleven Madison Park.

The original stand was celebrated by the public, even garnering the name “Best Burger 2005” by New York Magazine. Now, Shake Shack is a mini-restaurant chain with five locations in New York City, and one in Miami, Fla. All of the locations serve burgers, hot dogs, fries, milkshakes, custards, and other similar foods.

Although Shake Shack may sound like an average burger joint, its consumer appeal is not to be taken lightly.

“They have the most amazing burgers ever, coming from a person who generally doesn’t like burgers at all,” Beth Lester ’13 said.

Nick Daley ’12 finds the burgers delicious as well. “Let’s put it this way. I had that burger like, two years ago, and I still remember it. It was incredible; super incredibly juicy,” Daley said.

While many flock to Shake Shack for its naturally-cased, all-beef hot dogs, as well as its frozen custard—a trademark mixture of soft serve shakes with premium ice cream—its main attraction is its classic cheeseburger, which is eminently known as the ShackBurger.

According to, the ShackBurger contains “a proprietary blend of ground fresh and hand-formed beef…a griddled potato bun…fresh, crisp lettuce…the freshest, juiciest tomatoes,” and American cheese.

Inside a ShackBurger, one will also find a dollop of ShackSauce, a mayonnaise-based sauce which, after six years of existence, no one can quite seem to figure out.

In an October 2009 post to food review blog A Hamburger Today, writer J. Kenji Lopez-Alt argues, “The ShackSauce is almost as important on a ShackBurger as the patty itself.”

There is also a vegetarian burger option, which is essentially the same as a ShackBurger, but a crisp-fried Portobello mushroom filled with melted cheese replaces the meat patty.

Since many already consider the Westport food scene to be alive and bustling, some question if the addition of Shake Shack will actually have an impact on the community.

Jeremy Heitz ’12 thinks Shake Shack will contribute to Westport’s dining success. “It will allow for a more diverse choice when someone wants to eat out, but not settle for an over-extravagant and expensive meal at one of Westport’s finer dining restaurants,” Heitz said.

The addition of Shake Shack will not only have an effect on the Westport food scene, but will also create a new venue for people to spend time together.

“Shake Shack will be another good place for people to meet up and hang out,” Katie Hickson ’13 said. “The only thing is that it’s pretty far away from Main Street, which is where a lot of people get together. But I don’t think that really matters too much.”

Some anticipate the opening of Shake Shack to have an effect on burger chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which opened in Westport less than a year ago.

“I’ve never had a Five Guys burger, but I hated their fries,” Lester said, “so if their burgers are anything like their fries, well, too bad for them.”

Heitz has a different opinion on the matter. “It comes down to consumer opinion,” he said. “Five Guys was a great addition to our young people’s social infrastructure, and hopefully Shake Shack will do the same, upholding the positive effect it has already created.”

Barbara Foldvary, General Manager at Five Guys, does not believe the arrival of Shake Shack will have an effect on the business.

“As long as we keep giving out the best, I think we’ll still be here,” Foldvary said.

The arrival of Shake Shack in Westport will coincide with two more 2011 Shake Shack openings, one in Washington, D.C., and another in New York City’s Battery Park.