The recent cold spell here in New York City had me wondering what effect below-freezing temperatures would have on the infamously long line at the Shake Shack, which just this year began operating year-round. But if I was going to stand around and wait for a burger in bone-chilling weather—and then eat it outdoors in the park (the Shake Shack offers only outdoor seating)—I needed a strategy. I'll share it with you—along with some winter Shack observations—after the jump.
As I suspected, yesterday's 25-degree temperature combined with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday pretty much eliminated the line at the Shake Shack. The video above slightly exaggerates the wait—it was about five minutes from cash to carry-out.
I know I've lamented the loss of tradition that occurred when the joint decided to remain open all year, but I've gotta say I'm enjoying winter Shack. While I'll still miss the rush to get the last Shackburgers of the year and the hype surrounding the spot's spring awakening, it really is much easier to walk up and get a burger quickly. No surprise there, though, right?
I was pleasantly surprised that the burger seems to taste even better in winter. Maybe it's just the heat of the sandwich on a cold day, but I'd also say that, without the crush of people, the Shack crew has more time to get the burgers right. I've had one the past three Saturdays, and each has been hot, juicy, and somewhere just approaching medium—all with that perfect salty-crunchy patty that benefits from the magic of the Maillard reaction that happens on the griddle.
As for the heat lamps they're installing, word is they're waiting on city building inspectors to come out and approve what's been done so far before they go any further.
They can take their time, though. As long as the cold keeps the masses away, I'll show up, using my newfound cold-weather strategy.