Shake Shack scouting Indianapolis market for restaurant locations

The beloved burger chain Shake Shack appears to be planning to come to Indianapolis.

The firm is scouting sites in the market and started running ads on LinkedIn in January to recruit Indianapolis managers. In the weeks since, it has posted additional ads for other restaurant positions.

“From the best I can tell just because I have a lot of listings around town, they are looking downtown in the central business district and also a very dense retail suburban location. But they are looking, yeah,” said Steve Delaney, a retail broker who serves as first vice president of CBRE.

Andrew Clifford, a partner in the Indianapolis office of 7D Commercial Real Estate who is representing the chain in selecting sites, declined to comment to IBJ.

Personnel at Shake Shack's New York headquarters did not respond to requests for comment. On Wednesday, in response to a tweet from a Shake Shack fan hoping the chain would enter Indianapolis, the chain tweeted: "Nothin’ in the works for Indiana right now, but maybe someday! Hang in there, friend."

Shake Shack has been rapidly expanding since going public in 2015. It closed 2018 with more than 200 locations in 26 states and more than a dozen countries.

On a conference call with analysts Feb. 25, CEO Randall Garutti said the company plans to add 36 to 40 restaurants this year.

“As for new markets, among others, we're excited to be entering Salt Lake City, New Orleans, and Columbus for the first time,” he said on the call.

Shake Shack, which entered Chicago in 2014 and continues to expand there, is unlikely to blanket the Indianapolis area with locations, said Mark Perlstein, another retail broker who serves as first vice president of CBRE.

"I think they are very selective as they open stores across the United States," Perlstein said. "I don't see it as a multi-, multi-store market, but I would see their initial entry as most likely two stores." 

If the chain does open two stores, Perlstein said, putting those in Keystone at the Crossing and downtown probably makes the most sense.

Shake Shack grew out of a hot dog stand that celebrity chef Danny Meyer opened in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2000 as part of an effort to revitalize the park.

In 2004, Meyer and Garutti converted the cart into a full restaurant serving hot dogs, hamburgers, crinkle-cut fries and milkshakes. The restaurant quickly developed a cult following, with diners drawn to its simplicity and quality, ethically sourced food and excellent customer service.

Shake Shack restaurants average more than $4 million in annual revenue—far higher than most fast-food chains. McDonald’s restaurants average $2.6 million.

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