The popular Shake Shack burger chain said Tuesday it will open a Baltimore restaurant early next year.
The Baltimore outpost will be located at 400 E. Pratt Street, the former Examiner newspaper building that is now home to the digital marketing firm R2integrated.
Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti highlighted the restaurant's prime Inner Harbor location in a news release. The spot will have 80 seats inside and another 30 outside, according to the company.
"Baltimore is a thriving city that's steeped in American history, food and culture. We feel fortunate to be joining this community, and we're excited to have found such a great Inner Harbor location," Garutti said.
Part of Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), Shake Shack started as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park and today has more than 40 locations in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to burgers, it sells frozen custard, wine and beer.
"We knew they are the most exciting … quick serve concept around and we saw with all their expansion plans, in Philadelphia, Washington DC – we thought Baltimore was a logical fit," said David Leibowits, vice president of the Connecticut-based Peter D. Leibowits Company, which first developed the building in 1983.
The Shake Shack will occupy the Commerce Street side of a two-story, 24,000-square-foot addition to the building that is designed to expand the structure by 35 feet. Leibowits declined to name the other new retail tenants, saying it is company policy to wait until the leases are signed.
The addition, which moved forward despite objections from the city's urban design and architecture review panel last spring, is currently under construction. Leibowits declined to say the cost of the expansion, which he said will open this fall.
Funds from the Baltimore Development Corp., Planning Department and Downtown Partnership of Baltimore will pay for outdoor landscaping, said Downtown Partnership President Kirby Fowler. The Board of Estimates is slated to review a $200,000 request for improvements to the 400 block of Pratt Street Wednesday.
The Downtown Partnership has been working since 2008 to transform Pratt Street from a "bleak and unfriendly" corridor into a lively urban boulevard. Among its goals are reducing the width of the sidewalks, removing the small hills that used to line the street and improving the landscaping.
Fowler, who met with the Planning Department about the objections to the 400 E. Pratt Street expansion, said he is excited about the planned Shake Shack opening.
"This is all consistent with the original plan, which was to improve the landscaping, make it a more positive urban experience and allow for some of these older buildings to have amore lively street frontage," he said.
Shake Shack, which saw its labor practices highlighted last month with a tour from the U.S. labor secretary, expects the restaurant to create about 60 jobs, with minimum starting salaries of $9.50 per hour, according to a spokeswoman.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun