Shake Shack in Brooklyn, New York, adds public art installation to their menu

shake shack new york opens public art installationA public art installation has been added to the space that will soon house a Shake Shack in the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, New York. Earlier this year, Shake Shack reps heard about the Before I Die installation in New Orleans, Louisiana, and decided that they wanted to do the same thing as it seemed true to the Shake Shack spirit.

The installation is comprised of a giant chalkboard where people can write down things that they wish to accomplish before they die. According to Amanda Kludt of the New York Eater, some of the current postings include “Make Mariela proud of me”, “Change the world”, “Inspire like Steve Jobs did”, and “Hug you heart to heart”.

While the installation has been successful so far in creating a dialogue with their new community, the idea is purely for the Brooklyn location and will not be brought to other Shake Shacks.

Times Square Fairfield Inn to celebrate “straight 10s” with Shake Shack

If you kept track of my Shake Shack odyssey a few weeks ago and built up an appetite, you’re a few weeks from being able to satisfy it. On October 10, 2010 … that’s 10-10-10, in case you didn’t realize it … the Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Times Square is going to make it easy for you. To celebrate the day of straight 10s, the hotel will give a $10 gift card per room for guests to use a few blocks away at the Shake Shack on 44th Street and Eighth Avenue (the last stop on my trip).

This deal is pretty wild. Too often, hotels try to ship you over to local tourist trap restaurants, where you really don’t experience the best the city has to offer. Fairfield Inn, on the other hand, is working with a Manhattan institution, making it easier for guests from out of town to dine like a local.

So, is the midtown Shake Shack the “tourist” one? Well, I can tell you from personal experience that it isn’t. This Shack can hang with the other three in Manhattan, and the staff uses the same techniques that it employs at the other locations (e.g., providing menus to customers when the line is long) to keep the process moving easily.

There is one catch, however. Keep your receipt: you may need it to get into the bathroom!

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Four views of Shake Shack burgers in New York City

The line always seems to be long in Madison Square Park. Shake Shack, known for its burgers as well, always draws a crowd, and it isn’t unusual to spend an hour or more waiting to sink your teeth into its greasy delights. I’ve done it, and I know I’m not alone. Well, the stand’s popularity has led to expansion, and there are now four locations across Manhattan, with a fifth in Queens at Citi Field. Since those that follow never compare to the original, I was curious as to how they all compare. Could the concept withstand such rapid growth?

I set out with the noblest of intentions. Fellow travel blogger and friend Laurie DePrete (who took some of the photos) and I planned to hit the four Manhattan Shake Shacks on one Saturday afternoon. Scott Carmichael reached out to me over Twitter just wish me luck and let me know I was nuts (thanks, Scott). With my heroic appetite, I planned to down a double cheeseburger and fries at each location: Upper West Side (Columbus Ave and W. 77th Street), Upper East Side (E. 86th Street between Lexington Ave and Third Ave), Madison Square Park (Madison Ave and E. 23rd Street) and Midtown (Eighth Ave and W. 44th Street) – in that order.

My plan was to start on the Upper West Side, where I live, cut across Central Park to the Upper East Side, shoot down to Madison Square Park and then cut up and over to Midtown. Fatigue and the prospect of getting full never entered my mind. Neither ever does.

Below, you’ll find the results of my excursion, a look at the four Shake Shacks in Manhattan:


Eating all this @shakeshack food will be tough. 4 in all! RT @ScenebyLaurie: Stop #2 on the #NYC @shakeshack crawl http://4sq.com/covAmRless than a minute ago via ÜberTwitter

1. Upper West Side

This was the second Shake Shack to pop up, and I was excited to have an option close to home. The line frequently stretches around the corner onto W. 77th Street, though it’s rarely as intimidating as the original at Madison Square Park. On the Saturday I undertook this endeavor, the line was short, and I was able to order in about 10 minutes. Seating was tight, as expected, by Laurie and I were able to grab a spot on the counter, standing but with some space.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the cheeseburger, a double, but it struck me that I’d have to change course to survive the day. Though the burgers are a bit small (at all locations), they are filling. On the Upper West Side, expect to find the fare a little less greasy but still enjoyable. The taste was a bit flat. You’ll still be happy as you chomp away, but there better Shake Shack options in the city.

Where the Upper West Side restaurant stands out is in seating. There is plenty of it indoors, and don’t forget to look downstairs if you find the street level to be crowded. Also, there’s a bathroom on the premises, which is always helpful when you eat burgers and gulp lemonade.

After this first stop, we agreed to walk to the next location. To make it through four, it seemed like a good idea to move around a bit in between to keep the blood flowing … and the extra pounds at bay.

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2. Upper East Side

Unlike the first stop, I wasn’t hungry when I got to this one – but I wasn’t not hungry. I switched to a single cheeseburger and fries, cognizant of the road ahead. From across E. 86th Street, I saw that the line was out the door, but my concerns receded as I got closer. The stretch up the stairs from the cash registers to the front door isn’t long, so I figured the line would move quickly (it did). To help the process along, there are menus hanging outside, and a Shake Shack staffer walks by periodically to hand them out.

Seating inside is a bit scarce, but there’s plenty outside, perfect on a day like the one we used to tackle the four Shake Shacks. And, like the Upper West Side, there are bathrooms on the premises. The décor is a bit sleeker on the Upper East Side than in the other locations, and the staff was swift: the lines moved quickly because they moved quickly, too.

I was impressed by the burgers on the Upper East Side. They were soft and moist – nice and greasy, which is how a burger from the Shack should be. Hold yours with the wrapper to keep your shirt from getting drenched (learn from mistake I’ve made a number of times on visits to Shake Shack). As for taste, this spot’s burger was bursting. I devoured it shamelessly.

When I tried to stand from the bench in the outdoor dining area, I came to the realization that I didn’t want to. I was three burgers and two orders of fries into the adventure, and I was full … with two more locations to go. I was satisfied – and I definitely wasn’t hungry any longer. I was also tired. I turned to Laurie and saw a look implying the same feeling, but we decided to soldier on, slogging over to the subway for a ride down to Madison Square Park.

This project was becoming work.

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3. Madison Square Park

The original was our third stop simply for logistical reasons. Given the starting point and the way the subways work, it made sense to take this one on third. Also, we’ve both eaten there countless times, so we had a reasonable benchmark against which to compare the Upper East Side and Upper West Side locations.

As we walked through the park, a familiar sight emerged: a long line. We braced ourselves for a wait of at least half an hour before realizing that we needed it. I’d be able to rest my stomach for a while, try earnestly to build up an appetite again and prepare myself for the home stretch. I sat on the ground for a moment to gather my courage.

You’ll find free water at every Shake Shack location, and at this point we needed it. I headed over to pick up a few cups from the urn (the other three have running water) and rehydrated, something I’d been neglecting. Slowly, we advanced to the counter, where I ordered another single and fries. I wasn’t eating to alleviate hunger at this point, I was just looking for the taste.

The original remains the best. Grease dripped from the burger (though not as much as on the Upper East Side), and the familiar flavor erupted in my mouth. The first bite was incredible – everything you’d expect a burger from the Shack to be. It was soft, warm and thoroughly enjoyable. Then, I looked down at my tray and saw that I still had the rest of the burger in front of me. I was only able to make it through half – likewise for my fries – before deciding I had enough information and giving up.

While Madison Square Park wins on taste, the surroundings can be a challenge. There is lots of seating, but it’s all outdoor. Given that the crowds tend to be largest here, they fill up quickly. During the lunch rush, with people spilling out of the nearby office buildings, you may have trouble finding a chair anywhere. Protect your food from the occasional bird (I speak from experience), and bring change for the bathroom (a freestanding public one is your only option, and it’ll set you back a quarter).

After giving up before finishing, groaning and shaking our heads, we decided to keep going. Again figuring it would be a good idea to keep the blood flowing, my burger buddy and I started the trek back uptown, dreading the final stop. It was getting close to 10 PM, leaving us just enough time to get to the Midtown location – our final stop on the Shake Shack tour. My feet felt heavier with each step. My stomach hinted that a mutiny was on the horizon. After swapping knowing glances, Laurie and I decided to leave the Eighth Ave location for another day.

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4. Eighth Ave

We waited a little over a week before resuming the tour, a natural reaction to overloading your body with some of the finest burgers New York City has to offer. Situated on Eighth Ave, I expected this restaurant to have frightening wait and no available seating. It’s close to Times Square and Port Authority, which led me to believe there would be endless tourist traffic. To my surprise, however, the line lasted only about 15 minutes. As on the Upper East Side, Shake Shackers armed with menus came out periodically to help people make their decisions before getting up to the counter to order.

The Midtown Shake Shack offered a tasty burger (I found Madison Square Park and the Upper East Side to be better) that came fairly quickly. It wasn’t terribly greasy but was enjoyable nonetheless. Seating was tough, as people seemed to take a bit more time with their meals while the kitchen was able to turn over orders quickly.

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Like the other indoor locations, the Midtown spot had bathrooms for customers. To use them, though, you needed to enter a code on the door. Unlike most places, which use a token or a key from the counter, Shake Shack was savvy enough to put the code on every receipt, minimizing the time it takes to get where you need to go. The Eighth Ave restaurant also had a more powerful faucet for water, which led to shorter lines for those fighting thirst. It’s clear that the company learned a few lessons before opening its newest space.


Getting the last of the #manhattan @shakeshack stops in!!! (@ Shake Shack w/ @scenebylaurie) http://4sq.com/dhBg7Bless than a minute ago via foursquare


And that was it.

Toiling through four Shake Shacks, even if the last was left for a later date, was far more challenging than I expected, and I learned just how much my stomach can hold. If you’re headed to Manhattan, it’s worth visiting one Shake Shack – but only one. Don’t try to cram them all into a demented burger tour. You really are only hurting yourself if you do.

Six ways to enjoy Madison Square Park

Manhattan has a lot of great parks – but a handful tends to hog all the attention. Central Park is what it is; there’s just now way to compare it to anything else. Bryant Park has live performances and exhibitions (not to mention a starring role in Fashion Week) and is only a block from Times Square. And, there are others that would come to mind before you work your way down the list to one of my favorite open spaces in the city: Madison Square Park.

Don’t be misled – this park is nowhere near the “garden” of the same name. It sits between East 23d Street and East 26th Street and between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, in a small pocket of New York that most visitors tend to skip. So, catch the R or W train to the East 23d Street stop, and get ready to enjoy Madison Square Park in six different ways.

1. Take care of two buildings at once
The uniquely shaped Flatiron Building is right across the intersection from the southwest corner of the park, where Fifth Avenue and Broadway meet. What you may not realize, though, is that the northwest corner of the park (East 26th Street and Fifth Avenue) provides a great view of the Empire State Building. Crowds tend to form, for some reason, during morning rush hour (which sucks for the locals). Also, avoid lunch hour and evenings, as people who work nearby will get in the way of your shot.

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2. Watch some television – live
It’s not unusual to find camera crews in and around Madison Square Park. Plenty of shows shot in New York use the space. So, while you wander through, you may be lucky enough to bump into one of your faves.

3. Go to the bathroom
If you aren’t fortunate enough to spot a celeb, drink some water. This will have the predictable effect and send you to one of only a handful of self-cleaning public toilets in the New York City. It’s on the southeast corner of Madison Square Park, and a quarter buys you 15 minutes. That should be plenty of time to take interior photos of the device that guest-starred on CSI:NY.

4. Enjoy some art
There’s always a public art display of some kind in Madison Square Park. Right now, it’s Markers, an installation by Mel Kendrick, a Boston-born artist who’s now a resident of New York. This project consists of five pieces reflect the “rippling surfaces contain the fossil memory of the actions taken over time.” Like almost all the public art in Madison Square Park, Kendrick’s installation is definitely worth a look.

5. Grab a bite
Sure, it’s tempting to head over to the storied Shake Shack in the southeast corner of Madison Square Park (near the toilet/TV star/murderer). But, if you’re looking for a substantial, enjoyable sit-down meal, go up to Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse, a few blocks north on East 28th Street and Fifth Avenue. Definitely make the ribeye your meal (it was amazing), but you’d be nuts not to start with the seafood platter. Take your time, and rest your feet for a bit, especially if you’ve been wandering around the city all day. The staff is attentive and accommodating, and they will not rush you. This is a great alternative to the long waits and hope-you-can-pull-it-off reservation situations at the steakhouses in mid-town. And, the dark-wooded interior drives home the insider feel that makes any steak dinner in Manhattan complete.

6. Grab a cigar (for those inclined)
For many, the only way to finish a hefty steak dinner is with a cigar. Go local with a stick from Martinez Cigars, a few blocks away on West 29th Street and Seventh Ave. Grab a maduro, and go back to the park (while you can still smoke there). If nobody’s around, chill for a bit on the new pedestrian area just west of Madison Square Park.

Undiscovered New York: Beyond Central Park

Welcome back to Undiscovered New York. This week we’ll be taking a look at some of New York’s most famous public spaces – its parks. First time visitors are sure to spend a few hours getting to know New York’s most famous greenspace, Central Park. After all, this massive outdoor space tends to dominate both the geography and collective imagination of our city’s residents. And frankly, with all that Central Park has to offer, including a zoo, Shakespeare and ice skating in the winter, it’s not a bad place to start.

Yet Central Park is just the tip of the iceberg. If you truly want to understand New York, you could do worse than spending some time at the city’s many parks. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation maintains more than 1,700 public spaces set across all 5 of the city’s boroughs. And while they might not be as well-known as Central Park, New York’s parks are as diverse as the residents that come to visit them, boasting their own unique amenities and personality.

Want to enjoy one of New York’s best hamburgers al fresco? How about spending the afternoon at a beautiful recreation of a medieval monastery? Or perhaps a $3 rock concert is more up your alley?

Click on through below as Gadling takes a closer look at some of New York City’s lesser known public parks and presents you with a list of some of our favorites.
Park One: Fort Tryon and The Cloisters
Way up at the very top of Manhattan, the city’s typically dense urban grid begins to fade away. Expansive panoramas of the Hudson River open to view, and the city’s streets are increasingly punctuated by large clusters of trees. It’s right about then, around 190th Street, where you’ll come upon the urban oasis of Fort Tryon Park.

This former site of a Revolutionary War Battle now boasts a pleasant outdoor space with some of the best views you’ll find anywhere in Manhattan. But the best reason to make the trek up to Fort Tryon is for The Cloisters, an annex of the Metropolitan Musuem of Art that is home to thousands of priceless works. Even if you don’t like old tapestries, it’s a pleasant place to spend an afternoon strolling the site’s well-maintained grounds.

Park Two: Madison Square Park
Located in New York’s Flatiron District, Madison Square Park is probably one of our favorite parks in Manhattan. Though it tends to attract less attention than its better known park neighbors like Bryant Park and Central Park, Madison Square Park holds its own for several reasons. Most importantly, the park is surrounded on all sides by some of the city’s most beautiful historic architecture, including the graceful Flatiron Building and the soaring Met Life Tower.

While you’re busy drinking in the facades of these two majestic buildings, make sure to grab a milkshake and a burger at Shake Shack, located in a modern stainless steel building within the park’s confines. The business is run by New York restauranteur Danny Meyer, and the Shack’s reputation for great burgers ensures there’s always a healthy line standing outside throughout the year.

Park Three: Empire Fulton Ferry State Park
One of the most prominent architectural features of New York is its many bridges. These massive structures strut across the city’s landmass like steel and concrete monsters, dominating the views in all directions.

In the Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO, you’ll find one of the best places to get a bird’s eye view of these enormous feats of engineering. The Empire Fulton Ferry State Park sits directly beneath both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, making for one of the more unique New York park-going experiences. In addition to a number of walking paths along the East River, the site backs up against several huge 19th Century warehouses and the ancient structure of a former ferry terminal that once moved New Yorkers between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Park Four: Prospect Park
If Central Park were to have a twin sibling, it would have to be Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Sitting on almost 600 acres smack dab in the middle of the borough of Brooklyn, Prospect Park is truly the green heart of this historic section of the city. Boasting an antique boathouse, its own zoo and enormous 90 acre Long Meadow, Prospect Park is truly a green gem for the citizens of New York.

Once you’ve had a chance to paddle around the lake and check out some animals at the zoo, make sure to stop by Prospect Park’s bandshell during the summer months for free concerts featuring some great up-and-coming rock bands.

Phew! We’ve taken you past four of New York’s best lesser known parks and we’re barely even started. We didn’t even have a chance to talk about other great parks like the Bronx Botanic Gardens or the enormous Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, home of the National Tennis Center and Citi Field. Did we miss out on your favorite New York City park? Leave us a comment below and tell us some your own picks.