Shake Shack’s opening in fall will further propel New Haven renaissance

Next fall, just as students return to campus, a new restaurant will be part of the city scene.

A group of Yale staff, including Maura Scanlon of the Yale University Art Gallery and Amy McDonald of the Yale Center for British Art, enjoyed lunch recently at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park during a break from a conference. Soon, New Haven will have its own Shake Shack on Chapel Street at the heart of downtown and close to campus. (Photo by Shana Schneider)

Noted restaurateur Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) on March 1 announced plans to open a Shake Shack in New Haven. The restaurant will be located at 986 Chapel St., across from the Upper Green and close to the Yale Old Campus.

Described as a modern day “roadside” burger stand, Shake Shack started in Madison Square Park in New York City, with roots as a hot dog cart in 2001. It opened as a permanent food kiosk in the park in 2004, and quickly became a New York City institution with a broad following and positive response from the press and by diners in the Zagat reviews. 

The New Haven Shake Shack will join seven siblings in New York City and locations in Miami Beach, Florida; Washington, D.C. (Dupont Circle and Nationals Park); Saratoga Race Course, New York; Westport, Connecticut; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Kuwait City, Kuwait. 

“We are incredibly excited to establish roots in this food-loving, bustling city,” Meyer said. “New Haven is staging a thrilling urban renaissance, and we are excited for the opportunity to join this community as employers and citizens.”

Meyer and his team have been widely recognized for the success and quality of their business. He and USHG have won 24 James Beard Foundation Awards since he opened his first restaurant, Union Square Café, in 1985. The group now also includes many other celebrated New York restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Café 2 and Terrace 5 (located at the Museum of Modern Art), Blue Smoke, and Untitled at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art.

Meyer spoke at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale as a Franke Lecturer in April 2011.  His discussions of the role and concept of hospitality in the context of the restaurant industry, and how it contributes to a successful restaurant business can be heard as a podcast here

The New Haven Shake Shack will be in a location owned by Yale University Properties.  The University is an active partner in creating a vital downtown and promoting New Haven’s economic development through its community investment program, and as a result is one of the largest payers of real estate taxes in New Haven. 

Shake Shack will be one of several new businesses to open in New Haven in the past year. Apple opened a store on Broadway in September and a full-service grocery store, the Elm City Market, opened downtown in November.

Abigail Rider, director of Yale University Properties, notes that this newest announcement builds on the other downtown successes. In October, for example, Reuters reported that New Haven has the highest apartment occupancy rate of any market in the United States.

“Shake Shack is an excellent addition to the many dining options that New Haven offers and will attract diners from the New Haven and beyond to Chapel Street,” Rider says.

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