The new year brings yet another new dining option for burger aficionados in Cambridge. Several months after announcing it was looking to open a location in Harvard Square, Shake Shack will officially open Jan. 2 at 11 a.m., the restaurant’s parent company announced in a press release earlier this week.
Construction of the two-story restaurant, located at 92 Winthrop Street, kicked off early last October, and the location hosted a “soft opening” last week, serving desserts only. From Thursday onward, the restaurant will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m and seat 108 guests.
Started from a hot dog cart stationed in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004, Shake Shack currently has locations in six states, Washington D.C., and four different countries. The Harvard Square location marks the second Boston-centered venture for the chain, which also has a restaurant in suburban Chestnut Hill.
"We are extremely excited to be opening in Harvard Square. We have 60 new team members at this location who are ready to welcome our guests through the door," New England Shake Shack director Amy Green said in an interview.
Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti also said in the press release that he was looking forward to the Harvard Square opening.
“Cambridge is absolutely amazing with its vibrant food culture, energized college scene, wealth of history, and central location,” he said in the press release. “The response we’ve seen in Chestnut Hill over the past year has exceeded our expectations, and we’re excited to further our commitment to Boston.”
The location’s menu includes Shake Shack’s traditional offerings—burgers, flat-top hot dogs, and frozen custard, along with a selection of alcoholic drinks. According to Green, the Cambridge joint will be the only location in New England to offer the chain’s new hand-cut, twice-cooked fries and, eventually, the only in the world to serve draught wine.
The menu also boasts some location-specific custard options that allude to Cambridge’s universities: the Crimson Red Velvet and the MInT Chocolate concretes, as well as the Hasty Pudding Milkshake that refers to Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770, the restaurant’s new neighbor in Winthrop Square. The special milkshake will only be offered through the end of January.
Once opened, the Harvard Square Shake Shack will join a crowded burger market in the area, which already includes Bartley’s Burgers, b.good, Flat Patties, and the year-old Tasty Burger. Shake Shack’s new location formerly housed Om Restaurant and Lounge.
Amid the variety of burger selections in the Square, Green said that Shake Shack "is unique in many ways.”
“It's unparalleled in the kind of hospitality we offer to each of our guests. I think the community is really going to embrace our brand," she said, adding that the restaurant will be offering customers free hot chocolate at its opening.
While some College students said that they were eagerly awaiting for the restaurant’s opening, others said they would continue dining at the Square’s current burger joints.
Self-proclaimed burger lover Amir Bitran '16, who has eaten at the chain’s Chestnut Hill location, said that he is “not the biggest fan of Shake Shack.”
“It's a cool place to hang out, but it's not the best burger place,” he said. “I'd be fine to give [the Harvard Square Shack] a try if my friends went, but I wouldn't go out of my way to try it."
Meanwhile, Matthew J. Pasquini '16, who called burgers the "number one thing" that he looks for on menus when he eats out, said he thinks that the new restaurant will “have a very positive effect on the neighborhood.”
“I think it will offer some competition [to] Tasty Burger and get them on their game,” he said.
—Staff writer Melody Y. Guan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MelodyGuan.
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