At long last Michigan’s very first Shake Shack arrives in Detroit today, no doubt inciting a crush of fans of the New York chain. Located inside the First National Building on the edge of Campus Martius, the downtown burger outpost’s arrival has been nearly a year in the making but the result of many years of rumors and anticipation.
Michigan’s Shack will offer the traditional lineup of fresh, hormone and antibiotic-free burgers with an almost crunchy caramelized sear, as well as Chick’n Shack fried chicken sandwiches and flat-top grilled hot dogs. But like every Shake Shack, Detroit’s restaurant has been “localized” with city-specific art, beverages, and menu items.
Culinary director Mark Rosati, who is literally helping write the book on Shake Shack’s menu, tells Eater he visited in November with a list of possible partners and a goal of getting a feel for the culture of Detroit. “My whole aim is not to find like the hottest or the most talked about guy. It's about me asking myself if ‘I lived here where are the places I would go every day?’”
Leading off the menu of Michigan-centric items is the Shack Attack concrete, a dessert harkening back to the original Madison Park restaurant menu but featuring a Southeast Michigan twist: rather than cookie dough, the chocolate concrete features bites of Zingerman’s Black Magic brownie. Another concrete, the salty, sweet Motor City Mix blends together Bon Bon Bon dark chocolate with honey roasted peanuts and toffee from Rocky’s. The Pie Oh My is also a recipe from the early days of Shake Shack that was removed from the menu, but found its way back in Detroit with seasonal pie flavors from Sister Pie. The opening version is a blend of salted maple pie and vanilla custard. Diners will also find familiar local booze from Griffin Claw and Shorts on the menu.
The interior too, offers a dose of Detroit blended with elements of Shake Shack. The company designs each restaurant in-house. Metal and wood elements surrounding the walk-up counter and throughout the restaurant are meant as a throwback to the original Madison Park location. However, artwork and photos recall Detroit icons like Stevie Wonder. A print hanging from the wall by local artist Jesse Kassel was initially featured as construction wrap art in December. Designer John Varvatos also collaborated on a Detroit-themed t-shirt with a drawing of the original Madison Park location between a boombox.
The restaurant altogether seats around 96 patrons and will eventually feature a 36-seat patio, although there’s no clear date for when that will debut. Beginning March 1, diners will be able to order online through the Shack App. Photographers Chris and Michelle Gerard got a peek inside the restaurant — and a look at the menu — ahead of 11 a.m. launch. Take a peek around the restaurant in the gallery below.
Shake Shack is located at 660 Woodward Avenue; the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. 313.672.0501. Website.
• All Eater Inside Coverage [ED]