shack line2
Photo by Joseph Bolanos.

Shake Shack says it will take new measures to control the lines and garbage buildup at its restaurant on the corner of 77th street and Columbus Avenue.

We reported a few weeks ago on Shake Shack’s attempts to renew its cafe license to operate an indoor sidewalk cafe. Local resident Joseph Bolanos had complained that the restaurant hasn’t managed the crowds that gather outside, making the block impassable. At a community board meeting, a restaurant rep said “We’ll willfully admit when we’re wrong, and we’ve failed in the past,” Gothamist reported. She said the restaurant will work to remedy the problems.

“As a new measure, the restaurant has promised to install stanchions at the location and assign staff members to direct traffic and keep the line in check. They’ll also install two new solar garbage cans on site to cut down on street trash on 77th Street and attend quarterly Community Board meetings to hear progress reports from locals. Their sidewalk seating renewal was passed at the meeting.”

The Shake Shack rep rejected a proposal by Bolanos to redesign the restaurant to add more room for seating.

But Shake Shack will face extra scrutiny as it implements the changes to its line management. Bolanos said the community board also plans to review any community complaints on a quarterly basis — a very rare level of vigilance.

FOOD, NEWS | 85 comments | permalink
    1. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      I don’t see how so many people can eat this junk food. Here are some nutrition facts from the Shake Shack website (

      – Single Shack Burger: 30 grams fat, 490 calories
      – Regular Fries: 23 grams fat, 470 calories
      – Vanilla Milkshake: 34 grams fat, 640 calories

      That’s a whopping 87 grams of fat and 1600 calories in a single meal.

    2. Uwsmom says:

      As a mom of young kids I want to scream about this place with the ever-present crowd on the corner. When the kids were in strollers we couldn’t even get by. Now that they are in school ON THE SAME BLOCK we have to go out of our way to avoid it in the afternoon — they’ve already been knocked around trying to navigate through the totally oblivious patrons who congregate outside the restaurant.

    3. BurgerKing says:

      The irony is Shake Shak and Chipotle meals are far less healthy than McDonalds fare, but folks flock to the aforementioned two because of PC nonsense, like non-GMO and ethical sourcing, except that they really don’t. Welcome to the UWS. The heart of liberal phoniness and self-satisfaction.

      • ELJ says:

        Folks across the country were flocking to Chipotle for years, long before the first UWS outlet opened up. Shake Shack didn’t start on the UWS either.

      • Brian says:

        “The irony is Shake Shak and Chipotle meals are far less healthy than McDonalds fare, but folks flock to the aforementioned two because of PC nonsense, like non-GMO and ethical sourcing, except that they really don’t. Welcome to the UWS. The heart of liberal phoniness and self-satisfaction.”

        These are all fast food joints however it’s very possible to eat nutritious food at each of these places. It’s also easy to make some poor decisions and come out with a 2000 calorie meal that provides little in terms of nutrition.

        If you choose to eat McDonalds and the associated hormones/anti-biotics that they contain, that’s your decision. Blanket statements such as the one you made is ignorant.

      • UWS parent says:

        Um, Shake Shack started in Madison Square Park. And the vast majority of customers at the Shake Shack on W. 77th appear to be tourists. I don’t know any UWS-ers who eat at Shake Shack on a regular basis. So your point about UWS and liberal phoniness makes no sense at all. Nice try though.

    4. Paul says:

      I just don’t see what makes SS so special compared to other burger joints that are as good or better, other than an alliterative name. People are strange, marketing is a mysterious force.

    5. Carol says:

      Agreed…. to me, this is just a more ‘accepted’ version of a Krystal burger – with better meat. But I like my burgers on a grill. As in not a griddle. Plenty of comparable burgers and dessert concoctions in this town – marketing and hype really are something.

    6. Carol says:

      … and PS – yes, so often seems to be about how things appear vs how they really are – like folks are magpies who don’t use their brains but still congratulate themselves on it. I grew up in the South – we were the very definition of farm-to-table and organic. We just didn’t call it that.

      • Cyrus says:

        “folks …who don’t use their brains but still congratulate themselves on it. I grew up in the South – we were the very definition of farm-to-table and organic.”

        So you complain about people who congratulate themselves…yet in the next sentence you congratulate yourself. Well done.

      • Jeremy says:

        Krystal is just about the furthest thing from farm-to-table and organic. It’s Southern White Castle. Bizarre that you’d make that connection.

        • Carol says:

          Yes, exactly. I don’t eat at Shake Shack or Krystal or White Castle, and I never said those were anywhere near farm-to-table. The point was about appearances vs content…. some people may think labels mean more than they actually do. People should eat whatever they like – I’m just saying the hype doesn’t add-up to me.

          • Jeremy says:

            Y’know, if you don’t eat these burgers, or the burgers you’re comparing them to, perhaps this isn’t a great hill for you to be making your stand.

    7. jezbel says:

      Every once in a while I just like a fast greasy burger and fries. It’s in the neighborhood, it’s bad for me and it’s legal. The hubby and I like to go together…. one of us works the line the other one grabs a table. My kids are grown now and I’ve got some time for a guilty pleasure or two.

    8. Lisa says:

      It is my understanding that originally SS had hand-cut fries, but now uses frozen crinkle cut fries…
      Is that the case?

      • LMN says:

        They originally used the frozen crinkle cuts and then switched to the fresh hand cut to be more fancy and fresh but no one liked them.

        I like shake shack because it is the best fast food burger option around. Sometimes I just want a greasy burger and I don’t want to sit down in a restaurant and pay $15+ for it. Everything in moderation!

      • Adam says:

        Sort of. They started with the frozen crinkle cuts then switched to the hand-cut fries. Many customers seemed to prefer the frozen ones, so they switched back about a year ago.

    9. richard says:

      And people wonder why there are so many empty storefronts on the UWS. There is no way in hell I would open a business in the area (or most of NYC for that matter) having not only to deal with the city bureaucracy and regulations, but also the local community boards and self appointed neighborhood avengers.
      The problems at SS are not so bad that they need constant diligence. This is ridiculous!

      • Cyrus says:

        I 100% agree. The self-appointed avenger goes by the name of Joseph Bolanos who clearly has a LOT of time on his hands. I walk past Good Enough To Eat Every. Single. Day. Especially on weekends the line outside expands like an amoeba on the sidewalk, I’m constantly “excusing” my way through the throngs, battling strollers, etc. And every time I remark how it absolutely astounds me the number of people who wait in line for a mediocre breakfast. But you know what? That’s their prerogative. That’s their right if they choose to do so. I judge the hell out of them, but not enough to make it my business to quell their desire for…a mediocre breakfast. So Joseph, SS has agreed to make changes. Enough. Go find another line in this great city of ours to complain about.

        • LMN says:

          Jacob’s Pickles gets a crowd on the sidewalk too, especially around the 11:00-12:00 hour on weekends when the bar next door hasn’t opened yet for people to wait in. It is what it is.

          The Good Enough to Eat line drives me nuts- mostly because the food isn’t good at all so I can’t understand why people wait- but also because they really do take up the entire sidewalk. I just shove my way through.

      • D.R. says:

        –There are empty storefronts because of high rents.
        –The rents are high because many want to work, make money, visit and live here.
        –There are many regulations because we have to keep the city orderly and clean.
        Otherwise, people would not want to visit or live here.

    10. Anna says:

      I walked past SS last night at 7:30. No one was in the designated line to order but there were many people eating on the sidewalk outside the line blocking walkers. BTW, I think they have an inferior product – I go elsewhere when I want to eat a burger once in a while.

    11. James says:

      I don’t think it’s appropriate to criticize Joseph Bolanos for bringing up his concerns to the local community board. In fact, I would argue that the local community board served its purpose in bringing together a local resident’s concerns with a business-owner, and facilitating a compromise that should be a win for the community.

      This is a victory for the local community and Joseph should be celebrated for taking the time to address this concern.

      It’s a bigger waste of time, in my opinion, for folks to complain here that they do not like Shake Shack burgers, and villify folks who wait in line for them.

      Shake Shack is a public company that started humbly in Madison Square Park but now has outposts as far away as the Dubai Airport. It’s possible that this business is benefiting from strong brand recognition and global awareness, and people may associate it with NY and want to eat there while visiting. Couple that with an local clientele that may still want the convenience of fast-food but may seek for a more upscale choice, and it’s not hard to see why the lines exist. The quality of the hamburger is only one piece of the more complex puzzle.

      We see this in many markets. For example, make buying choices on computers, laptops, smartphones for features that they will either never use or could easily live without? I would venture a guess of an overwhelming majority.

      In Economics 101 we learn that one of the laws of supply and demand is that the Consumer is Rational. That may be true, but it’s always smart to evaluate all the impacts in that decision, and some of those impacts may be sex-appeal and not just filling up the gut.

      A greasy hamburger has sex-appeal? If you consider the marketability of Shake Shack for Facebook posts, Instagrams, Selfie’s, or just to chatter with your friends, it certainly has more sex-appeal than Joe’s Pub, Frank’s Diner, or any of the other places in NY that may serve a better burger without any cachet.

      • Jay says:

        The fact that UWS residents can’t plow through a bunch of slack-jawed tourists in front of Shack Shake is really an embarrassment.

        Shoulder check the folks who don’t get out of your way and they’ll remember the next time.

      • Jeremy says:

        Very well put.

      • Independent says:

        I would argue that the local community board served its purpose in bringing together a local resident’s concerns with a business-owner, and facilitating a compromise that should be a win for the community.

        That is how I am inclined to view this story as well.

    12. Francoise says:

      Shake Shack needs to package their take away food with less waste. The benches along 77St between Columbus and CPW overflow with waste. The ground is littered and messy, attracting rats and pigeons. Beside looking very ugly.
      Too much paper and Styrofoam!!

    13. Tim says:

      @Uwsmom. Careful what you say about strollers and kids on this forum. Lots of holier-than-now readers will crucify you because you have a stroller and kids and blaming the idiots who block the sidewalk. These readers like to flip it, that the problem is you and you’re inconsiderate and probably a menace with that stroller. But don’t worry, those comments usually come from sad pathetic lonely folks whose view is that morons blocking the sidewalk are A-OK, it’s the people that live here and actually have to use the sidewalk that are the jerks and should just “walk to the other side of the street” if it is so bad. Chuckles all around.

      • Mark says:

        Is today National Drama Queen Day? If so, I assume Tim is the spokesperson.

      • D.R. says:

        IMO, Tim, many of those comments do not come from “pathetic lonely folks.”
        They come from vested interest, i.e., SS employees.

        • Jeremy says:

          It’s true! We all work for Shake Shack. The black helicopters drop us off every day. 🙂

          • D.R. says:

            And this poster doesn’t work for SS?

            “pmw says:
            September 13, 2015 at 7:11 pm
            Ah the local self appointed arbiter. People like you are a big reason thete are so many empty storefronts and why NYC is one of the worst places in America to run a business. If they end up closing this location please be aware the workers will know who you are and what you havedone. Im sure you didnt think of that.”

            • D.R. says:

              Again, you have failed to address the comment of pmw pasted above. Again, you have chosen a personal attack.

          • D.R. says:

            The repetition of “storefront” and also “self-appointed” under both this and the original article seems to be one feature of SS’s PR defense.

            • woody says:

              No one’s ever going to accuse you of being astute.

            • D.R. says:

              “No one’s ever going to accuse you of being astute.”

              Woody, you must feel that your only recourse is a personal attack. I will nonetheless continue to pursue an answer from you on the posting of pmw which I pasted above.

              Further, I list additional reasons for concluding that a large part of the opposition is backec by an organized effort directed by SS:

              1) the comment (*and* threat) above from pmw;

              2) the fact that you failed to acknowledge it, substituting a personal attack;

              2) the nasty nature of, particularly, your answer to King in Comment 19 below. This is not typical of neighbors here, and not what I usually read;

              3) The proliferation of unfamiliar poster names in the comments; and

              4) The sheer number of comments. A typical story of the nature of this SS article usually receives 30 comments. The previous story on SS amassed almost 100 comments. This one is almost at 70 now.

            • Jay says:

              Why would anyone bother to have a conversation that is logical when you when it’s clear you can’t respond in kind?

              I’m not sure what your beef with Shake Shack is. I and many others wonder why the focus on this place when so many other locations on the UWS have the same conditions, if not worse.

              I have my own theories about who you are, but I’ll keep them to myself, since you aren’t making your cause seem any more credible by talking.

            • D.R. says:

              This addresses the comments of “Jay”, dated September 24, 2013 at 9:02 a.m.
              I misplaced my earlier comment at a higher location. I addressed to Jay there two simple sentences:

              “Again, you have failed to address the comment of pmw pasted above. Again, you have chosen a personal attack.”

              Now, I am going to conclude this dialog and write no further by stating:

              — the very fact, Jay, that you mirror the language of pmw by alleging (like pmw) that you know who I am illustrates your connection to that poster. That poster makes clear an affiliation with SS; and

              — The very fact that you *think* you know who I am means that you are connected with the controversy. How else would a possible list of those involved ever pop up into your mind?

              By the way, since I don’t want the person that you *think* I am to be at risk, be apprised that I have nothing whatsoever to do with SS or the controversy.

              — Rather, my concern was with the nature of comments and attacks used in defense of SS. Many do not reflect the tone or compassion of most cultured and well-educated Upper West Siders who post here. There are some who judge the UWS by comments on blogs. I want to disown responses like the following addressed to an injured neighbor:

              “Did they reject the claim outright? Or did they first laugh in your face for what seemed like eternity for your being such a goofball?”

              — Also, I want all sidewalks in residential neighborhoods to be free for the residents, the public and the taxpayers, and not serve as extensions for food establishments.

              I rest my case, and will not response to to you further.

            • Jay says:

              So you’re part of the “most cultured and well-educated Upper West Siders” group? Could have fooled me…

              So, who gets to use the sidewalks in your vision for the UWS? Just you and the rest of the aristocracy?

    14. Independent says:

      Just where is the irony that “Uwsmom” has been accused of here?

      She complained about not being able to navigate with her children in strollers, through, “the totally oblivious patrons who congregate outside the restaurant” and her children getting “knocked around” when trying to do so.

      In order for such a complaint to be ironic, wouldn’t the one making it have to be guilty of the same behavior that they are accusing others of? Where has “Uwsmom” done this? Those attacking her seem to have just assumed that “Uwsmom”, when pushing her stroller or walking with her children, must have acted oblivious to others. Why? Where is the evidence that “Uwsmom” is guilty of such inconsiderate behavior? I see none.

      What I do see is a lynch-mob-like piling-on of “me too” attacks against “Uwsmom”, proving that Tim was all too prescient in his words. Mark’s (typically) smug, condescending demonstration of trite, lowbrow, pseudo-wit* directed against Tim only served to further convince me that there was likely much truth in Tim’s words.

      You want to talk about “irony” and a lack of “self-awareness”? I have found countless examples of both that are nothing short of staggering, in comments posted to this site. I elaborate and cite some real whoppers in this post of mine. For some further gems in the Oblivious to One’s Own Hypocrisy Department, see, as well, the replies to the post that started the sub-thread which brought about the afore-cited reply of mine.

      *A belated response to one of my Mark’s little snipes:

      Apparently someone doesn’t get that “brevity is the soul of wit”.

      ( )

      Perhaps but as any number of your comments clearly proves, brevity, alone, is no guarantee of wit.

      • Mark says:

        My goodness. Another long-winded, hysterical rant of victimization. Do you carry your cross on the subway?

      • D.R. says:

        Thank you for the care you took in defending UWSmom, Independent; also, for the link to Off-Duty’s 9/9 comment.
        With it, you draw a singularly sharp, immediate and painful example of irony.

        • Independent says:

          I’m glad you appreciated my posts, D.R.

          It is disturbing that none of those who were so quick and careless to attack “Uwsmom” have bothered to respond to my challenge for them to back-up or explain their attacks. Sadly, though, such hit-and-run posting is anything but surprising at this point.

          Regarding the comment of Off Duty’s that you referenced, I just want to want to make sure it is clear that it was not any comment of his that I was pointing-out as a remarkable example of irony and hypocrisy but rather replies that were made to OD’s comments.

      • D.R. says:

        I confess that I am disoriented, Independent, by a post here which associates you with carrying a cross — especially since I remember well the opinion that you voiced in August about Justice Elena Kagan and the Lincoln Square Synagogue.

        • Mark says:

          You’re disoriented?
          You should probably lay off the sauce.

        • Independent says:

          1.) I am fairly certain that Mark’s reference to carrying a cross was nothing more than a metaphor for one who walks around with a sense of victimhood. The image intended to be invoked being that of one who is nailed to a crucifix. Or, more specifically, the individual who is most famous having borne that fate just over two millennia ago (and who, in Christian theology, bore the burden of the sins of all of mankind.) Thus, I believe that the actual metaphor may more properly be that of bearing a cross. Regardless of the actual wording used by Mark for the metaphor, though, I am fairly certain that he never intended it to imply anything about my personal religious identity or affiliations. I felt I should I clarify that for you. (As for Mark’s post itself, I do not find it worthy of a response.)

          2.) Presumably your basis for the disorientation that you describe feeling was your being under the impression that I am a practicing Jew. At this point, I wish neither to confirm nor to deny that this is the case. I would just note the following about the posts of mine concerning Elena Kagan and Lincoln Square Synagogue that you referenced. While I would certainly understand one drawing the conclusion from them that I was, in fact, a practicing Jew, I do not believe said posts actually contained any such revelation.

          Consistent with my practice of posting anonymously (which, in turn, is consistent with that of the overwhelming majority of others who post here and has a carefully considered, multi-reasoned rationale), I have generally tried to avoid specifying my personal religious beliefs/identity/affiliations.

    15. Gretchen says:

      A victim of their own success! Maybe they should ultimately look for a larger space or a second outpost on the UWS to accommodate the overflow crowds. They must be doing something right.

      • drg says:

        This is a CITY folks, an URBAN environment. Lots of population density.

        I would rather have a dozen SS crowds obstructing the sidewalks, rather than the utterly empty shuttered shops and/or 60’s urban renewal wasteland on columbus between 86 and 96.

      • D.R. says:

        Why should they look for more space when we provide the sidewalk to them for free?

    16. Sean says:

      Why are there so many empty stores on the UWS? Why is there scaffolding up at some locations for years and years? Why does everything seem to close up by 10pm? Am I living in the suburbs?

      • LS says:

        A number of stores/restaurants have shuttered over the past few years due to big rent hikes and some landlords prefer to hold space hoping for a bank or drugstore or chain store.

        Popover Cafe on Amsterdam & 87th and RCI air conditioners on Broadway & 98th are two examples.

        Check out Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY or EV Grieve for discussion of this.

        As for stores being not being late….store workers need to get home too, right? And most low-paid store workers can’t afford to live nearby and have long commutes home. And is there really a huge need/demand for stores to be open all night?

    17. caitlin says:

      Shake Shack is a large enterprise, part of Danny Meyers restaurant group, with locations throughout the US and internationally including Dubai, Kuwait, Turkey and Russia. As a large company, SS can certainly manage a remedy and IMO no worries that SS will be hampered in any way.

      Several of the Manhattan locations, including the Columbus Avenue location, are clearly destinations for tourists – and thus the crowds. Shake Shack on the UWS is a “destination” location, not really functioning as a “neighborhood” place. There is clearly a different dynamic when a “destination” entity such as SS is placed in a residential area.

      I’ve been at a few non-NYC SS locations – they are never crowded. I would also agree that SS is nothing special – not worth lining up for.

      Regardless of differing opinions expressed about the crowds or the food, the issue of the garbage is quite important. Not just the fact that the customers leave SS garbage around for blocks, but that garbage attracts rats.

      And suppose this was a McDonald’s – rather than SS – that was generating crowds and garbage?

      • drg says:

        why is it SS fault for people “leaving their garbage around for blocks”?
        certainly if the garbage cans on the corner are full, SS should ask the sanitation department for more cans, more frequent pickup…isn’t that what they are paying sales tax for.
        The “blame” for the garbage elsewhere should be clearly laid on the door of our increasingly uncivil society… along with the soda cans in the tree wells, the gum wrappers spewed everywhere, the non-curbed dogs.

        • caitlin says:

          It is not the fault of SS if customers pile their trash into already overflowing sidewalk trash cans or leave their trash around on benches or on the street.

          And I agree it does not reflect well on the folks who are littering/leaving the trash – and it is a bad sign that so many people do litter and leave their trash. It is a significant problem throughout NYC, which is amplified as there are more people in NYC these days and more people carrying around their lattes and sodas…

          That said, folks (many tourists/visitors)are clearly coming specifically to SS. It is thus appropriate for SS to be vigilante/remedy, whether that means putting out more garbage cans, increasing garbage pick-up or some other method (many businesses use private service – NYC Sanitation service typically for residential and street or public space trash) SS should do if for no other reason than that garbage attracts rats.

          • Sean says:

            If you see somebody littering, pick up whatever it was and hand it back. Tell they they dropped something.

          • woody says:

            What other stores put out garbage cans on public streets specifically for any trash that might result from their doing business? It’s amazing to me that so many posters think that this is a TAKE-OUT business’ responsibility. It’s the individual customer’s responsibility to handle his own trash disposal properly. That’s the essence of take-out food.

            Instead of whining at community board meetings about imposing restrictions on a business that employs local workers, pays taxes, and invests in the neighborhood, there are other approaches. Put some effort into getting the NYPD to teach litterers a lesson in civility by issuing them tickets. Or get the Parks Dept to manage their mostly lazy and unproductive workers better by putting them on cleanup duty instead of just hanging around within the parks doing nothing.

    18. We walk up or down Columbus Avenue by Shake Shack all the time, especially on weekends, sometimes have had a cane. It is ridiculous to complain about all the people on the sidewalk there or anywhere else. Come to NYC, tourists! Come to the UWS, everyone. We need your $$$ and your good will to NYC. We need fewer self-entitled whiners complaining about the crowds, though.

    19. Kingman says:

      Thank you Joseph for helping to relieve the congestion in front of Shake shack. In June 2014 I try avoiding the customers, tripped on a NYPD barricade and sustained a nasty gash on my right knee, requiring three visits to the doctor. Union Square hospitality group rejected my claim for expenses

      • Sean says:

        You couldn’t try another route?

      • Mark says:

        Probably a good decision on their part. If everyone sued everyone else because of an accident they had, it would be chaos.
        You fell. Be more careful next time.

      • UWS-er says:

        Seriously, you wanted Union Square hospitality group to pay? You tripped on a NYPD barricade–surprised you didn’t sue the NYPD while you were at it.

        It’s NYC. There are people everywhere. Deal with it.

      • woody says:

        Did they reject the claim outright? Or did they first laugh in your face for what seemed like eternity for your being such a goofball? What was the basis of your claim…that people were standing on a public street?

        You should take a walk through the theater district. On matinee day.

      • D.R. says:

        I’m sorry for your injuries, Kingman.

        What reason did your hospital group give you for denying your claim?

        Although I don’t live in the SS area, I join in thanking to Joseph too.

        • Kingman says:

          To paraphrase SS reply; “The incident happened on the sidewalk which is not under the control of Shake shack ; The barricade was placed down by the city of New York not shake shack . Therefore based on this information that there is no liability on the part of the insured .” However it in my claim I mention that the congestion of Shake shack customers cause me to veer to the left and thus tripping on the sidewalk .and alternative route would be to step into the on going
          traffic or to double back .for the record I did not sue some replies suggested. Thank you for your kind words in replying.