How Steak 'N Shake Was Ahead Of Its Time

When you crave a classic burger experience, nothing hits the spot like Steak 'n Shake. This chain has a long history of pleasing crowds — according to Steak 'n Shake, the business opened in 1934 in Normal, Illinois to great fanfare. The restaurant excelled in serving only the highest quality steakburgers and handspun milkshakes and even took pride in the fact that the founder Gus Belt would grind the steak in the middle of the kitchen, which appeared in plain sight of customers. This strategy has done wonders for the company. Despite taking a hit in 2020, the brand maintains 528 restaurants nationwide, making it a real heavy-hitter when it comes to serving up classic burgers (via Restaurant Business). 

The open kitchen plan that Steak 'n Shake features broke incredible ground when it first appeared almost 100 years ago. According to Mentalfloss, hamburgers in the 1930s had a public image problem. The sandwiches had a reputation for poor quality and most people saw them as a lesser option to order at restaurants. To combat these stereotypes, Steak 'n Shake's founder designed the open kitchen space to help ease customer concerns, and backed it up with the company motto "In Sight It Must Be Right."

Steak 'n Shake led the revolution for hamburgers nationwide

This open kitchen design broke new ground and the architectural design became a phenomenon. This desire for culinary transparency and to show customers how their food gets made has survived for generations and provides the model for how a wide range of American chains now get designed. According to Time, fast-food chains like Chipotle or Domino's thrive thanks to customers seeing that the restaurants have nothing to hide in their kitchen. The design boosts consumer confidence and defines the way in which we eat out in the current day and age.   

Steak 'n Shake broke new ground thanks to this particular kitchen design that truly took off well before other eateries had the chance to catch up. Fast forward to the present, and the business continues to forge ahead thanks to the attention spent on creating the perfect burgers and showing us there's nothing to fear. Next time you visit any restaurant where you can see the staff make your food, remember where the trend started!