A decade ago, Eater New York pointed out that the signage at burgeoning SF burger concern Super Duper looked a whole lot like Manhattan's runaway hit Shake Shack. Now, in 2020, Shake Shack itself is making inroads into the Bay Area after expanding all over the country. And Super Duper will be one of a number of businesses around the Marina and Cow Hollow competing for the neighborhood's dining dollars.
The new Shake Shack location at Fillmore and Filbert, one block below Union Street in the former Real Food Co. grocery store space, is beginning to train employees and readying for an opening in the next few weeks. And the occasion of the opening is the subject of this Chronicle piece today that focuses largely on the sour grapes of area neighbors and business owners who don't understand why Shake Shack — a brand that now has 275 worldwide locations, with 18 in California — somehow sailed into San Francisco with its onerous formula-retail rules. (As of 2006, following a ballot proposition, multiple neighborhoods around San Francisco ban chain retail and restaurants with 11 or more locations worldwide, unless the business undergoes a rigorous conditional-use application process.)
Chris Cheeseman, managing partner of Tacko, a restaurant that sits across the street on Fillmore Street, tells the Chronicle, "A place like this opens up, that could be the X-factor. That could take us out." To be fair, Tacko doesn't sell burgers — it's focused on tacos and lobster rolls — but Cheeseman sees such corporate competition as unfair. He also went up to Larkspur recently to check out the already open Shake Shack up there, and he found that the place already didn't jive with the Bay Area's culture — staffers were wiping tables with disposable wipes, beer was sold in plastic cups, and there wasn't a compost bin in sight.
"Corporate chains are not something that those of us who were born and raised here, or have lived here their whole voting lives, as I have, jump up and down about,” says Serena Bardell, vice president of the Golden Gate Valley Neighborhood Association, speaking the Chronicle. "I don’t see any positive about it."
Karl Hasz, a former historic preservation commissioner for SF, echoes that saying, "We’ve fought these chains over and over. Are we now saying that it’s OK?"
No doubt some burger fans and transplants from New York are going to be thrilled to have a Shake Shack in their midst — and since Umami Burger departed the 'hood a while back, it's kind of just trading one type of burger chain for another.
As for Super Duper founder and chain owner Adriano Paganini — who now has opened 15 Super Dupers around the Bay — he claims to be unthreatened. "I’m excited for people to compare Super Duper to Shake Shack and conclude that Super Duper is the better product," Paganini said in a statement to the Chronicle. Still he had some sour grapes about the fact that his own effort to open a Super Duper in Laurel Village were stymied recently by the formula-retail hoop-jumping the city made him go through, and he lost the lease. But now Shake Shack gets in this easy?
A second SF Shake Shack location is also set to open this year in the Westfield Centre food court downtown — arguably a more appropriate spot for it, and one where chain-retail rules don't apply.