The Big Change That Might Be Coming To Shake Shack In 2023

Shake Shack may be the youngster on the burger block compared to the likes of Five Guys and In-N-Out, but it has grown up pretty fast. What began as a hot dog stand in Madison Square Park around 2001 (per Shake Shack's website) boasts 400 locations today, per Restaurant Dive. Its menu has attracted quite a fan base. Chrissy Teigen has been known to nibble on Shake Shack food, and Hailey Bieber is mystified by Shake Shack's signature condiment.

However, when we go to a quick service restaurant for that matter, we are also creatures of habit. When we want fast food, we want it fast, and many of us want it without getting out of our cars. In 1 2015 survey, AYTM found that 34% of those people who frequented quick service restaurants preferred to use the drive-thru, while 6% used the drive-thru exclusively. During the pandemic, the use of drive-thrus spiked enormously. Currently, Shake Shack has just six drive-thru windows, but buckle your seat belt because, in 2023, that could be changing in a big way.

Expect more drive-thrus

According to Restaurant Dive, in a shareholder's letter, Shake Shack revealed that it plans to open between 20 and 25 drive-thru windows in 2023. Last year, the brand opened its first drive-thru in Maple Grove, Minnesota with great success. The industry site further explained that drive-thru windows equate to profits, noting those Shake Shack locations with a drive-thru made over $80,000 on average per week while those without drive-thrus rang in at approximately $76,000 weekly. However, it raises the question: If drive-thrus are more profitable, why not give one to every location?

Restaurant Business Online explains that building a drive-thru can be expensive. Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti said, building a drive-thru Shake Shack "is significantly higher than a normal Shack at the moment." And with COVID shutdowns, that sticker price is up by 15% while foot traffic is way down (it's 40% lower in Manhattan locations alone than it was in 2019). Restaurant Dive also notes that in addition to being more expensive to build, it is taking construction crews longer to complete projects and on average, companies can expect a 15 to 18-month turnaround, if not longer.