Shake Shack Empire Takes Over New York

by Ross Kenneth Urken · January 5, 2011

David Swinghamer, the 53-year-old CEO of Shake Shack, looks to expand his American meal empire this year with additional locations in Connecticut, D.C., and, yes, Brooklyn. Swinghamer reveals the origins of his Danny Meyer connection and the roots of his success.

The Observer has a great piece on the origins of Swinghamer's rise to being Danny Meyer's sole partner in the Shake Shack venture.

Swinghamer's fascination with restaurants and hospitality actually stems from an early affinity for architecture: he studied at the University of Minnesota and merged the structural and culinary by working as a line cook to pay for school.

He worked for 12 years in Chicago with Richard Melman at the awfully-named but substantial Lettuce Entertain You, and had spent three years at Chi-Chi's.

Of the architectural nuance he has injected into Shake Shack, he told the Observer,

"Each Shake Shack has a certain sense of place, a feel, and while the burger is the same, the signage isn't, even from Madison Square to the Upper West Side...A Shake Shack in Brooklyn is not going to be a Shake Shack in Dupon Circle, and that is why we--I, really--pick all the locations. Even just which side of the street to put it on matters."

Plans are also in the works for a Shake Shack in Dubai and Kuwait City.