Sunday, October 19, 2008
First Customer at UWS Shake Shack? Me!
I was dropping my girls off for a playdate at their friends' house, when I noticed an unusual amount of activity at the new Shake Shack on W77th St. It wasn't supposed to open until tomorrow, but I figured I'd check the door. A tall, young man in a black Shake Shack T-shirt and a green apron came to the door and told me they would, in fact, be opening today at 11:00. I checked my watch. I had 15 minutes to drop the kids off and get back to be the first on line. "Let's pick it up, girls!" I said, hustling them across the street against the light. Multi-tasking, I left a message at home for my wife to meet me at the corner of 77th and Columbus. After ditching the kids, I sped back to the shop, hoping that no one had taken my place at the head of the line. I turned the corner with some trepidation and was relieved to find a door without customers in front of it. I was to be the first. For those of you not from NY or following the NY food scene, the opening of Danny Meyer's new burger joint on the Upper West Side was as greatly anticipated as anything I've seen in my dozen or so years living up here. There are few things for which New Yorkers will wait on line. We NYers are always looking for efficiency, shaving valuable seconds off what could be sucks on our time in a finite life. If you want to see frustration to the point of murderous rage, drop a New Yorker in the Heartland and put him behind an old lady writing a check at the local grocery. So, when you see a hundred yard line of people snaking around Gramercy Park, you know it must be somewhere special.
The burger and fries were perfect. The shake was thick and sweet. Here was comfort food at its finest. David Swinghamer, the President of Danny Meyer's Union Sq. Hospitality Group, which included some of our favorite restaurants, came over and congratulated me as I savored a double cheeseburger. I gave him my chit, the first of its kind at the restaurant. I hope that it is one of many. As we left, I wished them luck. The Upper West Side, for so long a foodie pariah, is getting into the game.