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Harlem's Milk Burger Owner 'Looking Into' Alleged Shake Shack Rip-Off

By DNAinfo Staff on July 19, 2011 8:27pm

The Milk Burger menu, which has been accused of looking remarkably similar to rival Shake Shack's menu.
The Milk Burger menu, which has been accused of looking remarkably similar to rival Shake Shack's menu.
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Milk Burger

MANHATTAN — The owner of Harlem's recently opened Milk Burger is investigating accusations that the burger shop ripped off its menu and website design from the gourmet burger giant Shake Shack — even using a picture of a Shack Burger instead of one of their own on their homepage.

The similarities were pointed out in a Tuesday morning blog post on the website SeriousEats.com, which noted that the menus were "pretty much exactly the same, down to the wording." Serious Eats also alleged that the picture on Milk Burger's website actually depicts a Shack Burger, a photo of which was taken and uploaded to a Serious Eats Flickr account and then ripped off for use on the Milk Burger website.

The Shake Shack menu is a simple blue and white design with stylized stencils of the hamburger, fries and shakes on top of the menu offerings.

The Milk Burger menu uses similar icons for each of the items on the menu, and also rips off the Shake Shack hamburger logo, with the slight tweak of adding the word "Milk Burger" in between the cartoon buns.

Milk Burger owner Erik Mayor, 36, told DNAinfo he was "shocked" when he learned of the accusation, and attributed the the errors to an intern who had created Milk Burger's website.

The Serious Eats hamburger picture was taken down from the Milk Burger website Tuesday evening and replaced with a new photo, presumably of an actual Milk Burger. But the menu language and site design remained the same.

Still, the Harlem restauranteur said he was pleased with some aspects of the blog article, which deemed his Second Avenue eatery "A worthy if derivative Shake Shack clone."

"It's exciting to even be compared to a giant like [Danny Meyer]," said Mayor, who opened Milk Burger last April. "We're just a family business."

While Mayor said he has nothing but admiration for Meyer and Shake Shack, he insisted that there were important differences between the two burgers.

"The biggest difference is that it doesn't cause the bloating that the Shack Burger has," Mayor said. "That's what people tell me."

A spokeswoman for Shake Shack did not immediately return a call for comment.