Shake Shack’s first Bay Area location is hiring staff and preparing to open as soon as late October in Palo Alto (at 180 El Camino Real in the Stanford Shopping Center). Next up are Larkspur and SF locations.
And while the New York-founded chain might have 180 outposts from Los Angeles to London, all of them slinging burgers and crinkle-cut fries with consistent quality, the new Bay Area restaurants will enjoy some new Shack delicacies devised specifically for the region with local ingredients. Take, for instance, a chocolate on chocolate concrete made with Mission-based Dandelion Chocolate.
“Dandelion’s Mexican-style hot chocolate, it doesn’t get any more decadent than that,” says Mark Rosati, Shake Shack’s culinary director. After years of informal visits to the area and recent months of more active research, Rosati can rhapsodize about Bay Area producers and local burger culture, citing Chris Kronner’s creations and the patty melt at True Laurel. “I’m a burger lover at heart, on or off the clock.”
With the area’s palate and producers in mind, Rosati is even developing a Bay Area specific burger, but won’t share details until all the vendors involved are finalized. Cowgirl Creamery cheese? Dutch Crunch buns? Animal-style topping? Probably none of those — curious fans will have to wait and see.
Ultimately, Rosati wants to balance his embrace of local markets with Shake Shack’s established style. “I love to celebrate local flavors, but I want to bring some of that original experience, and that original New York DNA, to new cities,” he says.
One more local source Rosati can reveal: Manresa Bread, whose chocolate chip cookies he’ll use in a concrete with vanilla custard. “When I thought about... who could be good neighbors, Manresa was top of the list. It’s unbelievable, what Avery [Ruzicka] and David [Kinch] do. Their chocolate chip cookie blew me away.”
Shake Shack has been conspicuously absent from the Bay Area, Rosati acknowledges. “We know it’s taken us a long time to get here,” he says. “We want to make it worth the wait.”