Steak n Shake and the new NEA chief

November 5, 2009
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Steak n Shake execs must be swelling with pride over the sudden, fawning attention on their restaurants from Rocco Landesman, the blunt-talking Broadway theater producer who since August has been chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Landesman’s remarks certainly could be interpreted as praise. Or they could be taken as another example of the reason he’s in already in the woodshed—condescension.

Tomorrow, Landesman starts a six-month tour of the arts hinterlands, beginning in Peoria. Shortly after his appointment, he remarked, “I don’t know if there’s a theater in Peoria, but I would bet that it’s not as good as Steppenwolf or the Goodman” in Chicago.

Oops. During his visit to Peoria, he will visit a Steak n Shake, among other spots.

This morning in a National Public Radio interview, the St. Louis native made a point of saying Steak n Shake is his favorite restaurant. “I would call it very high-quality fast food served on china,” he added.

There’s precedent for this from the arts cognoscenti, and not under coercion. Roger Ebert said in a Chicago Sun-Times column early this year, “If I were on Death Row, my last meal would be from Steak n Shake.” Read it here.

Steak n Shake’s sole spokesman, CEO Sardar Biglari, is traveling and unavailable for comment. So we don’t know what they think.

Beyond Landesman’s penance, how do you feel about his affection for Steak n Shake? If you were Biglari, et al, how would you receive it?


  • Your headline makes no sense
    Where in this article does it reveal even at a stretch an insult to the restaurant?
    What the man said is in fact the truth. Why do media people seem to see bad or a potential for negativity when they read or report something? I'm sorry, your story is about you not Landsman
  • It's great press for Steak N Shake
    That's great news for Steak N Shake. Congrats!

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.