The two most recent Shake Shack ouposts to open, in Westbury, NY and New Haven, Conn., are about 20 and 50 miles east of the original location in downtown New York respectively. For a chain that started within the past decade, without the support of a huge corporation, that's fairly far-flung. But the next one to open may be much further still: 3500 miles east of Madison Square Park, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean in London.
As Bloomberg News reported this morning, and owner Danny Meyer confirmed in a press release, the London location is likely to open mid-2013 in the vibrant Covent Garden neighborhood of London. The press release even identified a specific building -- the historic Market Building -- as the site of the London Shake Shack.
It will be the 19th Shake Shack location overall, and the third outside the United States. But because the first two international locations were opened in the Persian Gulf in concert with local operators, who handle most of the logistics, the London branch may well be the most important test yet of Meyer's ability to maintain high quality over a fast food empire that stretches across multiple continents.
“For years an enormous number of friends in London have asked us when we would bring our first restaurant to their home,” Meyer said in the press release. “We’ve looked high and wide for just the right time and spot, and at last we’ve found it. We’re positively in love with London’s thriving food culture, and are humbled and excited to bring Shake Shack to the UK.”
In general, the U.K. market seems increasingly amenable to American fast food brands. Early in 2012, McDonald's, Subway and Starbucks all announced plans to opens hundreds of new stores throughout the country over the next few years. And Chipotle and Five Guys -- both closer analogues to Shake Shack -- have both opened in London to solid success.