Shake Shack to Open in London as Meyer Finds Site

Shake Shack
Shake Shack's flagship location in Madison Square Park, New York. The burger joint is coming to London in 2013. Source: Shake Shack via Bloomberg.

Shake Shack, the burger joint that attracts long lines in New York’s Madison Square Park, is to open a branch in London’s Covent Garden market in mid-2013.

It will be the first U.K. outpost for restaurateur Danny Meyer, whose Union Square Hospitality Group owns venues across Manhattan, including Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern.

“I’m positively in love with London’s thriving food culture,” Meyer said today in an e-mailed release. “I adore the city and have always enjoyed the time I’ve spent there over the years.”

Shake Shack started as a hot-dog cart in Madison Square Park. It was created by Meyer to support Madison Square Park Conservancy’s first art installation.

In 2004, Meyer won the bid to open a permanent kiosk, serving burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, shakes, beer and wine and more, Shake Shack’s website says. There are now Shacks in New York, Connecticut, Florida, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, and in Dubai and Kuwait City.

“For some time now, an enormous number of friends in London have asked when we would bring our first restaurant to the city,” Meyer said in the release. “We looked high and wide for just the right time and spot, and at last I think we’ve found it in Covent Garden.”

Gramercy Tavern

Meyer started Union Square Cafe in October 1985, at the age of 27. Gramercy Tavern followed in July 1994. He added Eleven Madison Park and Tabla in 1998 and formed the Union Square Hospitality Group. He subsequently sold Eleven Madison Park to manager William Guidara and chef Daniel Humm; Tabla has closed.

He has written a book, “Setting the Table.” Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social distributes it to his managers and expects staffers to read it.

“Danny is the quintessential modern restaurateur,” Atherton said in a telephone interview. “He just gets what it takes to make this industry work. It doesn’t matter if you are selling chicken wings or three-Michelin-star food.”

Other New York restaurants in Meyer’s group include Blue Smoke, the Modern and Maialino.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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