For Better Fries, Shake Shack May Go Underground

By James Mulcahy  |  October 20, 2013

Last night, we attended a TimesTalk that featured current and former restaurant critics from the paper (more on that later), and a frequent topic of conversation was the one-star review that Pete Wells awarded Danny Meyer's Shake Shack. "I think he was probably tickled by the star," said Wells, who dialed into the chat over a loudspeaker voice-of-God style to hide his identity. "It was the words that may have gotten under his skin, there was a lot of criticism in that review."

One thing that didn't impress Wells was the chain's fries - he reiterated that they were "terrible" in the chat. But, as moderator Richard L. Berke pointed out, the UES location of the chain recently changed the fry recipe, introducing a hand-cut version that has gained wide acclaim. "Everyone here has you to thank for better fries at Shake Shake," he said, to hearty applause from the audience. Wells agreed: "They're better, they taste like potatoes now."

But what of the Madison Square Park location that started it all for Meyer's growing burger chain? Wells disclosed an interesting tidbit of information about the outpost, which he said has "real logistical problems" for upping production due to its size. He said that in a recent chat with Meyer, he learned that the restaurateur was exploring excavating underneath the stand to make room for a fry-cutting operation. It's not clear if this fast-food-style big dig will actually come to be, but it shows just how much Meyer is willing to go to satisfy his customers' craving for better spuds.