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Madison Square Park: What is that line for?

The line at Madison Square Parks Shake Shack

The line at Madison Square Park's Shake Shack

“If you make it, they will come” might be the mantra for providing food in parks – and there may be no clearer example than Madison Square Park. We recently noticed the line outside the New York City park’s ShakeShack food kiosk, and couldn’t believe how long it was on a not-entirely warm late March weekend day. The kiosk is fairly new, and has brought alive the southern end of the picturesque park that sits next to the famous Flatiron building.

In 2003, the Madison Square Park Conservancy, a nonprofit that runs the park in an agreement with the city, launched a new initiative to bring a high-quality food kiosk to the park. According the the Conservancy’s website:

In one year it financed and built the $750,000 Shake Shack, the new zinc-clad, ivy-covered “green” building designed by architect James Wines of SITE Environmental design and operated by the Union Square Hospitality Group…….  Since Shake Shack’s opening in 2004, it has exceeded all expectations – and not just because a portion of each purchase benefits park maintenance and programs. From opening day, Shake Shack has made the southern end of the park a destination for dining. Customers are lured by the tasty menu featuring frozen custard, shakes, concretes, Shack burgers, Chicago hotdogs, ‘shroom burgers, and more.

There is great value in quality food destinations for parks. Not every park is meant for a food vendor, but those that have them need good ones that draw people in and other parks can improve their quality of place by providing them. And good food offerings bring revenue to the park, as the Conservancy mentions above.

3 Responses

  1. […] weekend, while I was standing in the infamously long line at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, I was startled to see what looked like a human figure […]

  2. In 2009 Shake Shack collected revenues of $4.9 million; $220,256 of that went to the city and $348,389 to the park. Concessions in other parks pay as much as 20 percent of their take to the city, but not [owner Danny] Meyer, whose company adds to its profits by catering private parties in the park for $15,000 an hour. When Meyer opened his fast-food stand, he was the director and co-founder of the Madison Square Park Conservancy, the nonprofit that oversees the public park.

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