The Third Ward is Finally Getting the Fast Food We Deserve

This NYC chain with a cult following is headed for Water St. in late 2017, and we couldn’t be more pumped.

A mere 16 years ago (75 in restaurant years), Shake Shack was a shadow of its current self, a seasonal hot dog stand set up as part of an art installation in New York’s Madison Square Park. It lasted just three summers and was not a hit.

While there’s more to the story of what made this ballyhooed burger chain (with locations in Russia and South Korea), more important than the Shake Shack cookbook released this month – about which I will say more because it’s key to understanding the chain’s appeal – is the announcement that Milwaukee is at long last getting a Shake Shack location (in the same neighborhood as a restaurant called Smoke Shack, which is a completely different sort of place).

The Shake Shack powers-that-be have confirmed that the Third Ward location (220 E. Buffalo – corner of Buffalo and Water) will open in late 2017. What separates Shake Shack from the many fast burger joints in existence is (for one thing) quality. In the book Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories, the burger joint’s culinary director talks about moving from his line cook job at Gramercy Tavern to then-new Shack (like Gramercy Tavern, founded by uber-restaurateur Danny Meyer), and how he figured it would destroy his career until he noticed that Gramercy and Shake Shack use the same ingredients. 

To be sure, part of the Shack’s mission is premium-ingredient sourcing – chicken raised in a cage-free environment, Angus beef from humanely raised cattle, hot dogs that are 100-percent Vienna beef. Hey, and no corn syrup or GMOs in the frozen custard.

Late 2017 can’t come soon enough.



Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.