Inside Look: Shake Shack University City

By Danya Henninger | October 10, 2013 By Danya Henninger  |  October 10, 2013
Photo by: Danya Henninger

At 11 AM on Friday, October 11, Shake Shack University City will open for business in the new Drexel campus residential-retail complex known as Chestnut Square. Located just east of the corner of 32nd and Chestnut Street, it will be the second Philadelphia branch of the NYC-based Danny Meyer burger joint (the first is in Rittenhouse; another will open on October 21 near the King of Prussia Mall).

We got a sneak peek at the bi-level shop - which serves the regular complement of burgers, flat-top dogs, fries, shakes, custards and concretes, plus beer and wine - as employees were putting the finishing touches on decor and taking in final food safety tips.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Each of the 17 U.S. Shake Shack outposts is unique, and this location more so than some. It’s the only branch where the order/pickup line and the open kitchen are on an entirely different floor from the seating (all tables and chairs are on the second level).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    It’s also one of the very first to serve hand-cut, twice-cooked, skin-on Idaho Russet fries, which are slowly replacing Shake Shack’s previous version. If you’re hankering for the crinkle-cut, pre-frozen fries (our idiosyncratic favorite), you can still get them at Rittenhouse, for the time being.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Each location opens with signature concretes made with local ingredients. On University City’s menu is the Declaration of Donuts, which blends vanilla custard with a Federal Donuts’ French toast fancy and a banana. Yes, it’s good.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    The Termini Bros. cannoli shell-studded Liberty Shell, which also has strawberry purée and lemon ricotta, is already served at the Rittenhouse branch, but here, the nonprofit partner that will receive 5% of all sales of that concrete is the Schuylkill Banks.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Third on the list of signature concretes is our favorite: the Study Buddy. A combination of chocolate custard, caramel sauce, crunchy chocolate toffee and beans from Joe Coffee (which has a branch right next door), it’s a delicious wake-me-up in a cup.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Upstairs, there is seating for 100, all at tables crafted from wood reclaimed from former bowling lanes. This place is going to be busy; it’s a student’s dream, and the location is convenient to both Penn and Drexel campuses. Regional director Allan Ng tells us that of the restaurant’s 65 employees, several are college students, and some even live in the same building.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Floor-to-ceiling windows provide the dining area with a great vista. Seating is broken into rectangular tables along the windows, bench booths along the back walls and square slab tables in the middle - a shape Ng had never seen at any other location.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Also uncommon is the royal blue featured on the walls and some of the chairs - Shake Shack colors are green and silver - but there’s an easy explanation: it’s Drexel blue, school colors, and the multi-city chain always operates with a mission to celebrate the local community.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    A small plaza to the west of the restaurant will provide plenty of space for outdoor seating; it's flanked by plantings from local firm SHIFT_DESIGN (also responsible for the roof garden and new bike corral at the Rittenhouse location).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Speaking of local, the beer list is sourced mostly from this region. In addition to the Brooklyn Brewery ShackMeister Ale and a second rotating tap, look for bottles of Yuengling, Yards PPA, PBC Walt Wit and Jack’s Hard Cider. This being a college hangout, there are also tallboys of PBR. Half a dozen wines are available by the glass or half-carafe.

Places Mentioned

Write a review

Shake Shack

Burger Rittenhouse Square
Food20 Decor17 Service19 Cost$15

Recommended on Zagat

comments powered by Disqus