Today is Shake Shack Day in Los Angeles. No, the mayor didn't come down from on high and crown this specific calendar square as such, but to many thousands of Angelenos, it is exactly as described. Today marks the first time in the greater Los Angeles area that Shake Shack, an East Coast burger empire with dozens of locations and a strong international presence, has deigned to step foot onto our little patch of earth. Welcome to Danny Meyer, the Shake Shack team, and anyone who loves their burgers; it's going to be a busy day.
If you're just catching up, you can peek inside the new West Hollywood space right now; you can check out the company's signature local burger that will only be available here, and is modeled after our city's famous French dip. You can check out Shake Shack's expansion plans into Glendale later this year, or Downtown sometime in 2017. And if you're so inclined, you can see for yourself if Danny Meyer has managed to take heed of a few key things before he debuts his first L.A. outlet today.
Up to speed? Great. Now strap in, because Eater is going to be live-blogging everything from the ribbon-cutting ceremony to the insane early lines, with photos and commentary and a bite or two of burgers along the way. Here we go.
It's Shake Shack Snapchat time
Here's an impromptu Snapchat session at the new West Hollywood Shake Shack (including an off-the-cuff version of our video series Eat The Menu). Enjoy the insanity for yourself, and be sure to follow at EaterLosAngeles.
The madness from earlier today:
As of 10 a.m. the line is already running towards the parking lot, with some longtime fans wearing vintage Shake Shack gear in anticipation of the big opening. The first two guys in line have reportedly been here since 4 a.m., including one who flew out specifically for the opening.
By 10:20 a.m., the Shack team is keeping people hyped with free concrete samples and giveaways, while inside the team is getting their big booster speech for the day. Cops are on site already, coning off the area and anticipating the crowds.
One Shack Shack corporate employee calls this "possibly the biggest opening we’ve ever had," because of the market and the anticipation that’s already been built. Danny Meyer himself is riling up the staff, name-checking big brands like In-N-Out as companies that are already doing big things in this market. He says the team needs to be humble, to recognize where they've come from and where they're trying to go in Los Angeles.
"Every purchase of a hamburger is a transaction. People are not coming to Shake Shack for a transaction. They want your smile, they want your eye contact, they want your heart."
A few slow claps and chants and the team is outside for some ribbon cutting with reps from the city of West Hollywood. 10 minutes to launch!
And here we go:
The first-ever Shake Shack order in Los Angeles, made on some sovereign Shake Shack soil.
Below is the Rainbow Connection, a confetti-fied concrete that uses a proprietary Cofax doughnut and Sqirl jam inside.
Of course, because we're in WeHo, someone had to bring their adorable French bulldog to Shake Shack.
Dogspotting in the @shakeshack WeHo line: pic.twitter.com/nUw9DeIgaU— Eater LA (@eaterla) March 15, 2016
The patio is packed to the gills at this point, though the line is moving quickly and there are lots of smiles to be had. Wait times are likely averaging around an hour, though it could speed up as the team continues to turn out food. Here are some happy eaters outside:
And with the lunch rush now in full swing (lines are well down the block) it's time for Eater to sign off from the first-ever Los Angeles Shake Shack here in West Hollywood. There will be much more to say as this place continues to grow and help elevate the burger game in L.A., but for now you'll just have to get down here in line for yourself if you'd like a taste.
Oh, and P.S.: Two Shake Shack managers were already talking amongst themselves a few minutes ago about needing to massively up their next beef order, because of such insane demand. Good on ya, Angelenos, for eating this place out of house and home on day one.
The money shot
Kang here. Farley and I put in a massive order and this is everything we got:
On the tray, from left to right: classic Shackburger, Chicken Shack, Rainbow Connection concrete, Roadside double, Shroom burger, fries, Shack-ago dog, fully loaded. And to drink, the Abita draft root beer (seriously my favorite) and a large lemonade. The total bill: $50.68.
Farley and I were able to put away most of this food, so the size of the burgers aren't very big. Well, the Roadside double is enormous, and has like a two to one ratio of meat to bread. Everyone kept warning us about the Shroom burger, because it can sometimes throw off some hot juices.
The classic Shakeburger, which has a four-ounce patty, is probably enough for a "snack" for me: I'd want to get an order of fries and maybe the hot dog. By the way, perhaps the most underrated thing about Shake Shack's arrival: LA now has a legitimately great Chicago-style hot dog. Sure, there are a few others sprinkled around town, but this one is a notable feature on Shake Shack's menu. Also, that Rainbow Connection concrete is righteous. The thing stayed cold and firm until after we ate (not that we didn't sprinkle in a few bites between our burgers). That SQIRL jam and Cofax donut go a long way.