Who will win the fast-food war?


The Shake Shack Economy

In 2004, when Danny Meyer opened a burger stand named Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, it didn’t look like the foundation of a global empire. There was just one location, and Meyer was known for high-end venues like Gramercy Tavern. But the lines became legendary, and in 2008 other outlets started appearing—first in New York, then in the rest of the country, then as far afield as Moscow and Dubai. Today, Shake Shack brings in at least a hundred million dollars a year and is planning an I.P.O. that could value the company at a billion dollars. That seems like a lot of burgers, but Meyer’s venture was perfectly timed to capitalize on a revolution in the fast-food business, the rise of restaurants known in the trade as “fast-casual”—places like Panera, Five Guys, and Chipotle. ….[READ]


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