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Shake Shack Will Inundate Downtown San Francisco With Burgers and Crinkle-Cut Fries

It’s going to be at the mall

Shake Shack

Shake Shack — the East Coast burger joint known for its well-crusted burgers, thick milkshakes, and crinkle-cut fries — has been making big moves in the Bay Area, starting with a Palo Alto location that opened in late 2018. Since then, it’s launched a Larkspur location and announced plans for a spot in Oakland, one in Cow Hollow, and yet another in San Mateo. Today the Chron reported that another San Francisco location of the restaurant is planned, this time in the Westfield San Francisco Centre.

The chain began as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park, founded by the New York City restaurant magnate Danny Meyer. Its burgers evoke a tribalism similar to that of fondness for sports teams or boy bands, with people self-identifying as a “Shake Shack person” the way others identify as a cyclist or as the member of a specific faith — the same way many native Californians espouse deep loyalty to In-N-Out. Those Shake Shack loyalists were thrilled to hear of the company’s plan to occupy the former home of the Real Food Co., a grocery store at Fillmore and Filbert streets that abruptly closed in 2016.

A spokesperson for Shake Shack confirmed the plan for the mall location to Eater SF, and said that it would open in 2020 — the San Mateo location is slated for the Hillsdale Mall, the spokesperson said.

“The Downtown San Francisco Westfield is so centrally located,” the spokesperson said via email, so “we will be able to provide our classic Shack Burgers along with some fun, special menu items to both residents and those visiting.”

An opening date for the Cow Hollow location is still unclear, and the spokesperson declined to comment on a planned opening date. As a chain restaurant (or, as the San Francisco Planning Department would call it, “formula retail”) with more than eleven locations, the going has been slow for the Cow Hollow venture, and the Chron notes that its still “awaiting permits,” almost 18months after the company first announced its plans with the space.

Things won’t move as slowly for its Westfield location, as the mall (which is located on the block bordered by Market, Mission, and Fifth streets) was — literally — made for chains, and isn’t likely to face the formula retail opposition a business like Shake Shack’s might encounter in one of the city’s neighborhoods. (These are the same legislative protections that allowed Trader Joe’s to swiftly open at Fourth and Market streets while Whole Foods was shut out of Polk Street.)

All this to say that while the Westfield Shake Shack might be characterized by some as its “second” San Francisco location, given the complaints neighbors have presented regarding the Cow Hollow spot, it might end up being the first.