UPDATE: Culinary no-no #434

Previously on This Just In…

Culinary no-no #434

Aug. 2, 2015


(This was posted after the opening of the Milwaukee Burger Company in Franklin that, at the time, got less than rave reviews, and the anticipated opening of Oscar’s Frozen Custard and Burgers that was delayed for several months)

I’m dreaming big time, big time on this one but wouldn’t it be nice if somehow something just shy of a miracle could occur and Franklin could attract a Shake Shack?

There is no Shake Shack location anywhere in Wisconsin.

A Shake Shack?

The folks in Franklin that would prefer we not even have a gas station at this point are scratching their heads.

What’s a Shake Shack?

Do they have lots of lights?


What about dancing? Better not have any of that!

Here’s the deal.

We will return to that Culinary no-no from 2015, but first, we’ll stick the update right here.

We now return you to the Culinary no-no we interrupted earlier.

Shake Shack epitomizes the American Success Story.


The original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park in New York.

Consider this: Already, a single Shake Shack location is worth $50 million, compared to $10 million for a Chipotle, or $3 million for McDonald’s.


That’s the Shake Shack Burger that helped Shake Shack become a beefy success and is now the chain’s go-to menu item. But Shake Shack didn’t always serve burgers.  Remember it started out as a hot dog stand.

And you probably won’t find it hard to believe that like so many incredible rags to riches stories this one began simply. Very simply.

In early 2014, Shake Shack’s Randy Garutti did an interview with Forbes.com about founder Danny Meyer and a napkin’s slice of the history of the restaurants.

You’ve got to understand that 14 years ago, Madison Square Park was in disrepair. There were drugs, rats, homelessness and it was not a nice park. You can’t imagine that today because if you go there now, it may be the most beautiful small park in New York. At the time, we had two restaurants right on the Park, Tabla and Eleven Madison Park. Danny helped create the Madison Square Park Conservancy and their first renewal project was an art exhibit. As part of this exhibit, we birthed a small New York hot dog cart out of the kitchen of Eleven Madison. But what happened was that we held the same standards of quality to our cart that we did in our restaurants, and people loved it. All of a sudden, 50 people lined up, 100 people lined up and the hot cart became this amazing crazy thing.

For three years, we ran the hot dog cart, never thinking beyond that. Then, the city was fielding proposals to fill a 400 square foot kiosk in the Park. On that day, Danny sat down and scribbled on the back of a napkin his vision of a modern version of a roadside burger stand. Not retro, not ‘50s music playing, but today’s version of what made that place great. All we ever wanted to do at Shake Shack was to have good people serving fresh food, and to sell a few hot dogs. We put the burger on the menu and the rest is history.

About that napkin. There’s more to the story, and yes, our eventual no-no.

The napkin, a photo of which was just published recently laid out Meyer’s thoughts about what would all be served. Since hot dogs were on the menu you just had to have a Chicago-style.

Oh, yeh. A thing of beauty.

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You’ve got your all-beef dog.

Yellow mustard

Bright green relish


Tomato wedges

Pickle spear

Sport peppers

A dash of celery salt

All served on a steamed poppy seed bun.


Uhh, but that’s not how Danny Meyer envisioned his Chicago-style dog. Let’s take a look at that famous napkin and see if you can spot the no-no.

Shake Shack napkin

Well, for one thing Meyer wanted to toss lettuce in there somewhere. But the most egregious vision he had of his Chicago-style dog was that it would include…



433 editions of Culinary no-no and here we go again. From hotdogchicagostyle.com:

The toppings are just as important as the Hot Dog itself. If you look at the required toppings for a Chicago Dog, you will notice that Ketchup is not listed among them. Ketchup is an ingredient frowned upon by Hot Dog aficionados. Although ketchup remains one of the most popular condiments on Hot Dogs, “properly made” Hot Dogs, like the Chicago Style, usually lack the condiment.

Those who consider themselves Hot Dog connoisseurs are often vehemently opposed to eating (or even witnessing) Hot Dogs with ketchup; they think the flavor of ketchup overpowers and destroys the taste of the Hot Dog instead of complementing it. Nowhere is this difference in opinion more apparent than in Chicago.

The inclusion of ketchup on a Chicago Style Hot Dog is a controversial issue. Most adult Chicagoans will shun ketchup. Chicago Hot Dog stands will not, as a rule, put ketchup on a Chicago Dog. Some stands will provide ketchup although you are responsible for defacing your Dog.

“You know what makes me really sick to my stomach? It’s watching you stuff your face with those Hot Dogs! Nobody – I mean nobody puts ketchup on a Hot Dog!”.  – This is a famous line from the movie Sudden Impact starring Clint Eastwood.

The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, in its recommendations for proper Hot Dog Etiquette capitulate only slightly to the publiic’s general regard for ketchup, saying “Don’t use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18.”

Then there’s this Straight Dope” column published back in 1991 by the renowned Cecil Adams where we get even more serious.

So even an entrepreneur extraordinaire can blow it (maybe). In the end Danny Meyer’s Shack-cago dog is sans ketchup.

Image may contain: food and indoor

And Shake Shack is the model for chain restaurants in America today.

Image may contain: food


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