Shake Shack debuted its first drive-thru on December 6 in Maple Grove, Minnesota, with plans for more. If all goes accordingly, the burger fast casual will have 10 by the end of 2022.
The store features a digital menuboard, two-lane ordering system, and a separate pickup window.
Additionally, it boasts a split-kitchen design with a separate kitchen dedicated just to drive-thru business. To help mitigate long lines, employees will take orders and payment at multiple points along the journey.
This store is just the tip of iceberg for Shake Shack’s digital evolution, and what it means for asset design. The chain expects to open 45–50 company-owned units next year, which would mark the most in a single calendar in brand history. And with more than half of those expected to come in suburban markets, principally popping up as freestanding and shopping center locations with enhanced convenience options, the options are endless.
Here’s a look at the new drive-thru, plus some renderings of future layouts that will define the brand’s future.
Shake Shack is still a young company, relatively speaking. It entered 2020 with 24 percent of its locations 12 months or younger and an average U.S. age of just 2.9 years.
Between March 2020 and November 2021, Shake Shack served north of 3.2 million total purchasers on company-owned app and web channels, and in Q3, Shake Shack grew this base by 14 percent quarter-over-quarter at the same time its dine-in sales lifted double digits and more than doubled from last year’s levels.
Shake Shack has retained about 80 percent of the digital sales seen at COVID peak (June 2020), with digital mixing 42 percent of sales last quarter.
“Shake Track” centers on the brand's efforts to add drive-thru, pick-up shelves, windows, and curbside. “The need to enhance and alter the physical restaurant to meet the needs of digital is so important to Shake Shack that today, nearly all new restaurants we open have some aspect of Shack Track,” CFO Katie Fogertey says.
And on to the renderings.
Just this year, Shake Shack introduced delivery through the Shack App and the company’s web channels, offering 99-cent delivery and free delivery on orders over $35, at menu prices below third-party delivery.
Shake Shack reported $193.9 million in total revenue last period (Q3), its highest quarterly mark ever.
Drive-thrus will continue to open the digital funnel for the brand.
“Our Maple Grove opening is a huge step forward for our brand. We’ve been envisioning drive thru for some time now and have been working diligently to make the experience uniquely Shake Shack. We’re bringing our guests an even greater quality, craft, care and experience while adding a new level of convenience,” Shake Shack Randy Garutti said earlier in the year. “We’ll be learning a lot from this location and will continue to optimize and adapt as we roll out more of these formats next year.”
Order-ahead pickup windows continue to level the field in quick service.
Many of Shake Shack's early COVI pivots have become permanent functions, including multi-channel delivery, enhanced digital pre-ordering, and expanding fulfillment capabilities.