Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Restaurateur Danny Meyer thinks
Muscovites are ready to stand in line for a burger again.
More than two decades after McDonald’s Corp. opened its
first Russian outpost, leading 30,000 to stand for hours in the
cold to savor a Big Mac, Meyer is in Moscow for Shake Shack’s
local opening tomorrow. The New York burger joint known for its
queues will sell ShackBurgers for 235 rubles ($7.15), about 50
percent more than in New York and almost triple the price of a
local Big Mac.
Meyer, chief executive officer of the closely held Union
Square Hospitality Group that owns Shake Shack, thinks it’s a
“It’s very inexpensive, given we ship our hamburger buns
from the U.S. by airplane and, of course, all of our beef comes
from Australia and our pickles are from Brooklyn,” the 55-year-old said in an interview yesterday, adding that he expects a lot
of demand for the restaurant’s offerings such as the Shack-cago
Shake Shack has developed from a single hot-dog cart to a
fast-food chain that offers the self-proclaimed “most
delicious” hamburgers and ranks in New York’s top 25 most
popular restaurants, according to review publisher Zagat. Since
2011, Shake Shack has expanded globally to cities including
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where it opened last week, and Dubai.
Moscow residents have been getting their taste of American
burgers since 1990, when the opening of McDonald’s first Russian
restaurant was a world news event. While Russia’s fast-food
market has grown increasingly crowded, with Burger King
Worldwide Inc., Subway Restaurants and Yum! Brands Inc. all
aiming to woo diners, the country today has just one restaurant
per 930 inhabitants, versus one per 150 in the U.S., according
to researcher Business Analytica.
“If we were opening a fast-food chain, we would be too
late for Russia,” Meyer said, adding that he considers Shake
Shack to be restaurant-quality food in a casual setting. His
restaurants the Modern and Gramercy Tavern have Michelin stars.
Still, the Russian consumer food-service market is forecast
to grow 5 percent this year to $20.1 billion, according to
Euromonitor International research company. That’s about $140 in
annual revenue per capita versus more than $1,000 in western
Europe and over $1,500 in the U.S., data from Euromonitor show.
Shake Shack is adapting its menu for the local palate. Its
deep-fried shallots are dipped in batter and Russian beer while
the custard has incorporated a preference for walnuts and
marshmallows. The pork sausage and bacon are sourced locally,
“Having been to Shake Shack in Brooklyn, I’m looking
forward to trying their Moscow offerings,” John Heisel, vice
president of sales and trading at Renaissance Capital in Moscow,
said in an e-mailed comment. “The prices look to be higher than
the U.S. at first glance, but sadly this seems reasonable.
Having lived here for over a decade, I’m used to everything
Moscow will be Shake Shack’s last major international
opening for now as the company focuses on expanding from the
East Coast of the U.S. toward the west, Meyer said. The chain
has plans to open next year in cities including Chicago and
Austin, Texas, and on the Las Vegas strip by 2015.
Meyer, who started Union Square Cafe in October 1985, at
the age of 27, now operates other New York restaurants including
Blue Smoke and Maialino. He has no plans to open fine-dining
restaurants in Moscow until Shake Shack proves itself, and won’t
commit to expanding that model until the first outlet is
“First, let’s make this work,” he said.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Jason Corcoran in Moscow at
Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Kenneth Wong at