Well here it is, the era of Shake Shack is upon us.
Last year the Triangle suffered the culinary indignity of being beaten to the punch by Charlotte at something food related, when the global burger brand opened its first North Carolina location there. Now it’s the Triangle’s turn, or more specifically Cary, as Shake Shack opens its doors Wednesday in Waverly Place.
Shake Shack is well known to burger lovers, but for the uninitiated, the New York-based burger chain serves griddled burgers and hot dogs in the spirit of the highway shack, along with crinkle cut french fries and frozen custard. In a decade and a half the company has grown from a stand in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park to a publicly traded fast food phenomenon.
Cary’s Shake Shack is number 247 worldwide, but there are a few local touches that make it a singular spot within the burger empire.
Let’s begin with pie
Shake Shack has a lineup of frozen custard concretes. There’s the Shark Attack, which pushes the limits of chocolate, made with chocolate custard, fudge, chocolate truffle cookie dough, chunks of Mast Brothers chocolate and chocolate sprinkles. Then there’s the Cary Cookie Crumble, with vanilla custard, marshmallow sauce and cookie butter, plus a black sesame concrete, a limited-time import from Shake Shacks in Japan.
Special for the Triangle is a blended concrete made with chunks of seasonal fruit pies from East Durham Bake Shop. Area director Allan Ng said a team from Shake Shack scoured the Triangle for the best baker and arrived at the one-year-old shop from husband and wife owners Ali Rudel and Ben Filippo.
“Each time we go to a market we really look for the best baker in town, that has the same ethos as us,” Ng said.
Growing up on Char-Grill and Snoopy’s
Ng, a Raleigh native and NC State graduate, is area director for Shake Shack locations in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and now part of North Carolina. He said he’s well aware of the beloved burger joints that have been here for decades, that he loved them too.
“I grew up eating Char-grill on HIllsborough Street,” Ng said. “The owner of Snoopy’s used to come into my parents’ Chinese restaurant. Those are my childhood places to go. I went there in college. I love what they do. We didn’t invent the burger, or the milkshake or the hot dog. What we want to do is come here and be a modern version of the roadside burger stand and be part of this community.”
Burgers in the suburbs
In planting its burger flag in Cary’s Waverly Place development, Shake Shack disregarded the allure of booming downtowns in Raleigh and Durham, and developments like North Hills. The Waverly Place Shake Shack is a new build, with a wrap-around patio looking out on the rest of the development. Ng said Cary’s growth and nearby Holly Springs and Apex made this Waverly the place for the first Triangle location.
“Cary has that small, hometown feel, where we can enter the Triangle area and learn,” Ng said. “I think this is a good starting point.”
More Shake Shacks on the way?
There are already two Shake Shacks in Charlotte, with a third in the airport. Ng wouldn’t commit the company to a second Triangle location just yet, but he did tell his mom he’ll be visiting more often.
“My mom asked me that same question,” Ng said. “I said, ‘Mom, you’ll see me more.’”
The Cary Shake Shack is located at 310 Colonades Way in Cary’s Waverly Place shopping center. It’s open seven days a week, starting at 11 a.m.