The New York-based eatery wants to expand to a third Bayou City location by 2018, said CEO Randy Garutti at a crowded Galleria preview of the restaurant on Nov. 3. Shake Shack opens its first Houston location 11 a.m. Nov. 4 inside the Galleria, and the eatery plans to open its next Houston location in Rice Village in late 2017.
"Obviously, y'all have one of the greatest cities in our great country," said Garutti. "Trying to figure out where to go took time. We ended up here because it's just a confluence of a little bit of everything."
Shake Shack started targeting the Houston market about four years ago, but found itself picky about where to cook up its first spot before settling on the Galleria. The hot-dog-cart-turned-multinational company operates locations around the world and in Texas, most recently opening a Dallas eatery in September 2016.
Houston's a competitive burger market, and Shake Shack will go up against established chains like San Antonio-based Whataburger along with newcomers like Hopdoddy Burger Bar. The popular Austin-based chain is opening its second location in Rice Village in February, and opened its first first Houston location in May in the River Oaks District.
But Shake Shack expects to hold its weight in Houston.
"Everybody's got their burger place," Garutti said. "We just hope people put us on their rotation. ... I believe they will."
The restaurant also aims to stay competitive in an environment where people are eating less and less fast food, Garutti said. The CEO touted Shake Shack's menu loaded with fresh, natural ingredients. A 2013 CDC study found that Americans slightly decreased their fast food intake between 2003 and 2010. A more recent study shows Americans are cutting the number of calories they consume.
"Our kids are not going to grow up eating at fast food restaurants because they know better," Garutti said. "But they still want a great burger."