Shake Shack to Close Madison Square Park Outpost for 5 Months

By James Fanelli on June 30, 2014 6:43am 

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 Shake Shack is planning a major overhaul of its flagship joint in Madison Square Park, according to the city Parks Department.
Shake Shack Plans Major Renovation
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FLATIRON — Get a ShackBurger while you can.

Danny Meyer is shaking things up at his original Shake Shack — with a major renovation that will likely shutter the operation, and its famously long lines, for five months.

DNAinfo New York has learned that the celebrity restaurateur's wildly popular Madison Square Park fast-food joint will close for an overhaul of its kiosk's interior and exterior. The rehab comes on the 10th anniversary of its opening on the park's south side.

Shake Shack spokesman Edwin Bragg said the much-needed facelift will expand the kiosk's footprint by 4 feet, providing extra room for food preparation. The kitchen will be completely redone, and the basement will be overhauled to create additional storage space. When the fix-up is finished, the Shack will look virtually the same.

Bragg said Shake Shack is paying for the renovation, and the work will not impede the public's use of the park.

"The renovations will not shut down the public park, but the Shack will be closed for approximately five months, hopefully in the winter," he said.

Since Shake Shack is on public land, it had to get the city's blessing for the renovation. The city's Design Commission gave the chain the go-ahead earlier this month. The city Parks Department also consented to the work.

"We plan to pursue all permits and approvals so we can begin improvements later this year," Bragg said.

Meyer's restaurant company, Union Square Hospitality Group, had another big shake-up recently. The New York Times reported last week that his Union Square Cafe will move to a new location because of the neighborhood's skyrocketing rents.

The Madison Square Park Conservancy, a nonprofit that maintains the 7-acre Flatiron green space, paid $750,000 to build the Shake Shack more than 10 years ago. Meyer is also a founding board member of the conservancy.

To lease the space, Shake Shack pays a percentage of its revenue to the city and the conservancy. In 2009, the Madison Park location pulled in $4.9 million in revenue and dished out $220,256 to the city and $348,389 to the conservancy, according to the magazine Next City.

Geoffrey Croft, president of watchdog group New York City Park Advocates, has been critical of the lease deal, claiming the terms are very generous to Meyer's group. Croft said the amount Shake Shack pays the city is far lower than what other parks concessionaires cough up.

"Danny's doing quite well for himself, but unfortunately, in the original deal, the taxpayers didn't make out as well," Croft said.

The conservancy did not respond to a request for comment about the renovation.

Since opening in 2004, Shake Shack has become a global sensation for its frozen custards and singular take on fast food. It now has nearly three dozen locations, including 12 in New York and spots in London, Russia and the Middle East.

“We never dreamed of the enduring impact Shake Shack would have as a beloved community gathering place and iconic New York institution for locals and visitors from around the globe,” CEO Randy Garutti said.  “We are humbled and proud to have played a role in transforming Madison Square Park into a thriving destination and neighborhood hub.”

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