The gourmet burger chain officially opened its new location in Queens Center Mall on Wednesday morning. Employees applauded as the restaurant’s first customers walked on line to place their orders.
The new location was slated to open later in 2016, but according to Zachary Koff, Shake Shack’s vice president of Operations, they were ahead of schedule.
“We got a head start, everything went real well,” Koff said. “And we got the chance to open a couple of days before the new year and we’re excited to do it.”
Koff said the company always knew it always wanted to open a new location in Queens due to the borough’s diversity, and Queens Center Mall was a perfect match.
“This actual location came up and when you talk about places where communities gather and everybody comes from all walks of life to a central place, this is it,” Koff said. “And that’s what we’re always about, that central location where all the energy is. We found it here.”
The new restaurant is about 28,000 square feet in the spot once occupied by Urban Outfitters near the 92nd Street entrance. Koff said he’s excited that local fans will no longer have to travel far to enjoy a Shake Shack meal.
“I think that for the most part Shake Shack is a pretty commonly known name for burgers in New York, and I think people are hopefully excited that they are a few steps closer to get it here where they live and where they spend their days,” he said.
Three Queens teens were the first ones on line when the store officially opened at 11 a.m. Jakob Czapoicki, a 14-year-old resident of Kew Gardens, said he found out about the opening from an employee.
“Yesterday, we came here and there was a lady in front,” Czapoicki said. “She gave us a custard card and told us that tomorrow is the first.”
Pawel Drozd, a 16-year-old Ridgewood resident, said they were ready since Tuesday.
“We were already hyped,” Drozd said. “They said it’s going to open at 11, so we were like, ‘We’re waking up early and getting here at 10 at latest.’
“We used to have to go to the Brooklyn Bridge, around there,” he added. “But now we can finally come here, especially when we’re shopping at the mall. It’s convenient for all of.”
Jakub Rozwadowski, 14, said he was so excited he woke up at 8 a.m. and took the bus to get to the mall for the opening. The teens ordered double shack burgers and custard.
“And later on we still might go to get some shakes and some fries,” Drozd said.
Shake Shack is also naming one of its concretes, what they call their frozen custard ice cream, after an iconic symbol in Queens. The World’s Fare dessert features vanilla custard, matcha powder, marshmallow sauce and crispy crunchies.
As part of the restaurant’s “Stand For Something Good” initiative, it will donate 5 percent of the profits from the World’s Fare to Play4Autisim, a Middle Village-based nonprofit that increases public awareness about autism and helps autistic children improve their self-esteem and social interaction.
“We always select a charity which feels as local as possible. Usually it’s a combination of whether the team has a real tie to them or the neighborhood,” Koff said. “We just found that one. They’re a great organization. It felt really close to home here and we ended up partnering with them and we’re thrilled to have them.”