By Janee Law
Shake Shack has gotten the go-ahead to build a Melville location.
Following a year-and-a-half long approval process, the Huntington Planning Board unanimously approved on July 20 plans to build the luxury burger joint at 869 Walt Whitman Road, the former location of the Empire Szechuan restaurant.
Known for its burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, crinkle-cut fries and locally-sourced beers and wines, Manhattan-based Shake Shack is set to open its third Long Island location, and first in Suffolk.
“This is going to be a designation restaurant,” said Thomas Abbate, the Woodbury-based attorney representing property owner Melville Pacific LLC. “We’ve got not only the indoor seating, but we have an outdoor patio as well. And it’s beautifully-situated right on [Route] 110.”
Abbate said construction is slated to begin before Labor Day this year and is expected to be completed within five months.
“We think it’s going to be a huge success and something that’s going to augment the Town of Huntington at the same time,” he added.
The planned 3,040-square-foot restaurant will include a 795-square-foot outdoor dining space. Plans also show that 65 parking spaces will be supplied.
Town code required 77 spaces be supplied, but the Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals granted a conditional parking variance during its Aug. 6, 2015 meeting. Conditions included that hours of operation be limited to 11 a.m.-11 p.m., seven days a week; and adding two parking spots along the north side of the property to be designated for employee parking.
“We have an area where we designated for employee parking so we think that the overall arrangement of cars is going to work seamlessly,” Abbate said.
The property has been vacant since 2008 after Empire Szechuan closed its doors. The town declared the property blighted in 2012 and property owner, Melville Pacific LLC, tore down the building in July 2013. The property was put on lease market by the end of the year.