By Danny Schrafel
Goodbye, Empire Szechuan. Hello, Shake Shack.
The Manhattan-based chain is in the beginning of the site-plan approval process for a future restaurant at 849 Walt Whitman Road in Melville, Edwin Bragg, Shake Shack’s director of marketing, said.
“We’re always considering great neighborhoods for a Shack. With our New York City roots, Long Island has been very good to us, and we’re looking forward to starting the process for a site plan approval for a potential Shack at 849 Walt Whitman Road,” he said.
The first Shake Shack opened in 2004 in New York City’s Madison Square Park. It went public on Feb. 4 of this year after successfully completing its initial public offering.
Shake Shack restaurants feature sustainable menus and environmentally-responsible designs and aim to be a “fun and lively community-gathering place with widespread appeal,” company officials said. The aim is to create a modern-day “roadside” burger stand known for burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, crinkle-cut fries, beer, wine and more.
So far, Shake Shack has opened additional company-operated Shacks in New York, New Jersey, Washington, DC, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Nevada, and several international licensed Shacks. For 2015, they plan to generate upwards of $159 million in revenue and open 10 new domestic, company-operated Shake Shacks and five international licensed locations.
Shake Shack would be the first full-time utilization of 849 Walt Whitman Road since Empire Szechuan closed in 2008. For several years after the popular Chinese restaurant closed, the property was an eyesore as the vacant building fell into disrepair.
In 2012, the town declared the property blighted, and the owners inked multiple restoration agreements with the town. The owner, Melville Pacific LLC, who initially sought to build a Japanese restaurant in the space, ultimately tore down the building in July 2013. By the end of that year, the LLC abandoned plans to build a restaurant and instead put the property on the lease market for a tenant that would develop the property for retail or restaurant use.
If approved, this would be Suffolk’s first Shake Shack and the third on Long Island; the first opened at the Gallery at Westbury Plaza shopping center in Garden City.