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Shake Shack IPO

Raw, Online

Yale School of Management
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When famed fine-dining restaurateur Danny Meyer opened a hot dog cart in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2001, the venture drew legions of customers curious to experience Meyer’s take on all-American street food. The curious became the committed and Meyer’s little experiment acquired a permanent structure in the park – the Shake Shack. The Shack regularly drew long lines, leading Meyer to build a company around the concept. In a few years, Shake Shack expanded to a chain of burger restaurants in the United States and licensed outlets internationally.

Meyer sought to differentiate Shake Shack from the long tradition of burger joints and chains that dotted the American landscape. First, Shake Shack was committed to high quality ingredients and efficient operations in each of its eateries. Secondly, the company selected high traffic locations and designed each outlet to fit into its chosen locale. Finally, Meyer wanted Shake Shack employees to create culture of hospitality that welcomed each customer as if Shake Shack was a fine-dining establishment, rather than a burger joint.

As of 2015, the formula seemed to be working. Shake Shacks developed a devoted fan base in each of their locations. New Shake Shack locations were greeted by enthusiastic fans who cheered the opening of the operations in their neighborhoods.

But the fine casual dining market space in which Shake Shack was operating was becoming increasingly crowded. Competition was fierce among the various chains and concepts. Could Shake Shack hold its own against this legion of rivals?

At least initially, investors seemed to believe that Shake Shack could. The company went public on January 30, 2015 with shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Opening day investors bid up the $21 per share offering price by 118% to reach $45.90 at closing bell. By the end of May, investors were paying $92.86 per share. But observers wondered if this price represented a realistic valuation of the enterprise and if not, what was Shake Shack truly worth?

Published Date: 21/10/2016

Suggested Citation: Vero Bourg-Meyer, Jaan Elias, Jake Thomas and Geert Rouwenhorst, "Shake Shack IPO," Yale SOM Case 16-021,  October 21, 2016.

Keywords: Restaurant, Fast Food, Supply chain, Fast Casual, Supercharged IPO, Hospitality, Women in Leadership