“All of our innovation since our early days has been done in basements of Shake Shacks,” Amoscato says. The fast casual moved this special kitchen as it outgrew each space and moved to another. “The last Shack we were in was Midtown east on the corner of 40th and 3rd, and we had a room in a basement where we had to work within the constraints of Shake Shack operating time. We didn't have our own cooking equipment, so now the team has their full cooking equipment. We can test everything that will go up in the Shack, and then we have more equipment than what a typical Shack would have.” The chain can speed up the creation process and be more nimble with its creations.
The culinary team at 225 Varick will use the space to create offerings that peak their interest, including some they have toyed with in the past and tried to determine an outlet for. “It's the perfect way for us to showcase what we can do and what we have fun doing and more,” Amoscato says. “More specifically, it's what we have upstairs that we're going to start seeing in this Shack, the Chick’n Bites. We've been playing around with the Veggie Shack for the last few months. We'll have some new shakes up there, [like] the black sesame shake.” (It tastes like peanut butter). A cold brew matcha latte, a cold brew float topped with a scoop of vanilla custard, and hand shaken lemonade are also available. The Chick’n Bites will be available at select Big Apple locations by month’s end, and then they will be tested in other U.S. markets throughout October.
When they find something they think has potential, the Shack chefs can test it upstairs in the restaurant. Perhaps it will be for a day or a week. And perhaps if something takes off at this location, they “can expand it to other locations in New York or beyond,” Amoscato says. “This will be like the hub of innovation, where it starts, and we'll give it a quick shot and see if it's going to carry on.”
Amoscato does not see any specific cadence to their rollouts. They will just go with what inspires them, even if it is just for them. “This morning, I thought, it'll be fun to just walk through the Green Market in Union Square. The tomato season's coming to an end, but we're going into root vegetables and apples. And what can we do with something in the Green Market?”