Food & Beverage

Doing Good by Doing Delicious

What could planners learn from Danny Meyer's Shake Shack?

Last Friday evening was one of the first warm evenings of the season, and hundreds of New Yorkers had the same idea that I had — to head to Madison Square Park to the Shake Shack. The long lines of people waiting for burgers, hot dogs, and milk shakes at the 20-by-20-foot kiosk literally are a joke: Shake Shack sells baby onesies that read: “I waited 9 months … this line ain’t that bad.”

In Setting the Table, NYC restaurateur Danny Meyer, who operates the Shake Shack along with six other highly successful restaurants, presents the kiosk as a prime example of “doing well by doing good.” A percentage of every sale goes to the Madison Square Park Conservancy, which in turn plows it back into the park, making it the kind of safe, beautiful place where you don’t mind (too much) standing in line.

Investing in the community is a core philosophy for Meyer. He hosted one of the very first food-related fundraisers for Union Square Park and has continued to be instrumental in organizing and participating in culinary fundraisers to benefit the park. (For more on Union Square Park’s rebirth, see our November 2008 profile of Fred Kent, founder of the Project for Public Spaces.)

By taking active leadership roles in working to revitalize two great city parks that anchor the neighborhoods in which we do business, we’ve demonstrated that a rising tide lifts all boats. The component of enlightened hospitality has beautified our neighborhood, and in turn has enhanced our business.

It’s nice to know that Meyer feels your pain, line-wise. The burger stand has installed a Shack Shack cam, so you can check the lengths of the line online.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.