How Danny Meyer went from fine dining to burgers - Connecticut Post
What began 11 years ago as a simple hot dog cart designed to raise money for the Madison Square Park Conservancy in Manhattan has slowly grown into the phenomenally successful Shake Shack restaurant chain. The combination of delicious food, a beautiful setting and warm hospitality made it a hit that would spawn such spin-offs as Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Blue Smoke and The Modern. The food cart in Madison Square Park began as a small fundraising sideline, but when New Yorkers heard that Meyer was bringing his same high level of food quality and hospitality to hot dogs, hamburgers and custard shakes, people started going out of their way for lunch in the park. "Though they were spending $2.50 for a hot dog, the satisfaction and loyalty of those guests was no less important to us than that of our regulars at Gramercy Tavern," Meyer wrote in his memoir, "Setting the Table" (HarperCollins, 2006). "When we opened the second Shake Shack, one of the things that pleased me most was that I thought it looked like the Upper West Side (of Manhattan)," Meyer said of the distinctive design and the vibrant mix of customers.