Why Some People Think Steak 'N Shake Is Failing

Steak 'n Shake is a great example of change not always being a good thing. The chain started back in 1934, and their main selling point was right there in the name: their burgers were made from steak (via Steak 'n Shake). Unlike other burger stands of the time, Steak 'n Shake put a huge emphasis on the quality of their ingredients, even going so far as to grind the steaks into patties right in front of their customers to prove they were selling the best of the best (via YouTube). This strategy served them well for decades, with the store expanding from one location to almost five hundred by the early 2000s, despite changing hands several times.

The downswing began around 2008, when Steak 'n Shake was purchased by Biglari Holdings Inc. Bilgari switched the chain's focus to lowering costs and increasing efficiency, a model that took a toll on the quality of their food, and their customer service. Steak 'n Shake has been struggling since to regain its lost success, even getting close to bankruptcy in early 2021 (via Eat This, Not That). However, despite being bailed out by Biglari earlier this year and recording a profit in the first quarter of 2021, customers are still convinced that Steak 'n Shake is failing. Here's why.

Reasons customers are fed up with Steak 'n Shake

Customer complaints about Steak 'n Shake range from long wait times to lower quality food to poor service, all reasons that former fans might stop frequenting the burger joint. As one Reddit user wrote: "I love Steak n Shake but my biggest problem is that every one I go to is SO SLOW" (via Reddit). Another was quick to agree, adding: "After 3PM it's useless trying to get anything from Steak n Shake, there's probably two workers there, ten cars in the drive thru, and you're gonna get the wrong order."

Others outright claimed they stopped going because the food had changed, writing: "I stopped going because their food kept getting worse. I used to love their steakburgers, but they would decrease in size every few months. Their shakes got downright unpleasant. Now, I'd rather have Jack in the Box for burgers" (via Reddit).

Complaints about poor service are also common, which some ex-employees reveal might have been because Bilgari implemented a $12 hourly wage cap for non-managers and cutting hours, a choice that increased staff turnover and saw the chain loose some of its best cooks (via Eat This, Not That). The result? Slow service, inexperienced staff, and lower-quality food. Hopefully Steak 'n Shake can learn from all of this consumer feedback and start to turn things around before it loses any more customers.