Another contender is throwing their patty into the crowded ring for Santa Monica’s unofficial dish, the Cheeseburger, as the popular chain Shake Shack has confirmed it will occupy the former Panera location at 5th and Wilshire.
The corporation submitted documents in March detailing their plans for the location and the project had its first public hearing this week at the Architectural Review Board where it was approved with conditions.
The company is pitching a one-story restaurant with outdoor dining totaling 4,499 SF replacing the Panera restaurant. The building has been a restaurant since at least 1952 when it was developed as Polly’s Pies. Shake Shack plans to demolish the current building except for the pole sign.
“Although pole signs are a prohibited sign type and not granted legal nonconforming rights to remain the subject sign was deemed meritorious, representing early development patterns of the City’s architectural character and can remain, provided modifications are limited to changes to the sign,” said the staff report.
Shake Shack began as a hot dog cart in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park as part of an annual art event. From 2001 to 2003 the business was just the temporary cart but in 2004 the company opened a permanent kiosk and has since embarked on an expansion wave that has seen it grow to more than 275 locations domestically and across the globe.
The company garnered national headlines in April when it applied for and received $10 million under the CARES Act that was supposed to provide aid to struggling businesses. The company eventually returned the cash but CEO Randy Garutti said at the time that he believes the application was justified based on the size of the company and his belief Shake Shack could repay the loan.
“Few, if any restaurants in America employ more than 500 people per location. That meant that Shake Shack – with roughly 45 employees per restaurant – could and should apply to protect as many of our employees’ jobs as possible,” he said. “The immediate drop in business due to the virus had caused the company to face operating losses of over $1.5 million each week, simply by keeping our doors open with the goal of paying our people and feeding our communities. Our teams have been heroic, pivoting our business to a new curbside pickup and delivery model, while keeping our teams and guests at a safe distance.”
The company returned the money when they found alternate funding sources.
“Shake Shack was fortunate last Friday to be able to access the additional capital we needed to ensure our long term stability through an equity transaction in the public markets,” he said at the time. “We’re thankful for that and we’ve decided to immediately return the entire $10 million PPP loan we received last week to the SBA so that those restaurants who need it most can get it now.”
Shake Shack will join other dedicated burger restaurants such as Umami Burger, Pono Burger, BurgerIM, Pier Burger, Shaka Shack, Big Jo’s, HiHo, Burger Lounge, Habit, Fat Burger and Steak ‘n Shake. Several other restaurants also serve a well-known burger including Big Dean’s, Father’s Office, A Cut Above, Wally’s and Del Frisco’s.
Shake Shack currently has a location in Marina Del Rey.