Shake Shack: A Tastier Burger and Better-Than-Average Fast-Food Pay

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The popular New York-based burger chain has pledged to pay its workers more than the industry standard.

Despite what some fast-food chains would have you believe, it is possible to run a successful burger joint while paying your workers better than minimum wage. That’s what New York-based Shake Shack has done since it opened its doors in 2004.

Shake Shack, a fast casual burger chain, recently announced its plans to go public, according to filing documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Unlike many other fast-food restaurants, Shake Shack pays its workers more than minimum wage. Its filing with the SEC says:

For instance, in Manhattan Shacks, we start our new employees at $10.00 per hour even though the minimum wage in New York is $8.00 per hour [$8.75 as of Jan. 1]. We believe that this enables us to attract a higher caliber employee and this translates directly to better guest service.

The fast-food industry is notorious for abysmally low wages. Fast-food workers’ median pay is just $8 to $9 an hour, The Huffington Post says. In December, thousands of low-paid fast-food workers across the country went on strike, demanding higher wages, according to MSNBC.

Shake Shack has proved that it can pay its workers a higher wage, while still making money and serving yummy food. Shake Shack’s sales ballooned from $21 million in 2010 to $140 million in 2013. The burgers are said to be much tastier than your average fast-food fare.

“If the Shake Shack model continues to thrive as the company grows, it could provide fodder for workers and protesters who say fast-food giants can afford to pay their low-wage employees more and still reap huge profits,” HuffPo said.

Shake Shack employs about 1,680 people, Bloomberg Businessweek said. Nearly all (1,450) of its workers are paid “at rates set above, but related to, the applicable minimum wage,” the SEC filing said.

Shake Shack has come a long way from its early days as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park. The fast-growing burger chain now has more than 30 locations worldwide, including restaurants in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Miami Beach, Fla., as well as Dubai, London and Moscow.

While Shake Shack rises in popularity, McDonald’s recently posted its biggest same-restaurant drop in sales in nearly 15 years, The Wall Street Journal said. It seems McDonald’s, once the perceived king of fast food, is losing customers to fast casual chains. That, coupled with headlines about its low worker wages, made for a difficult 2014 for the fast-food giant.

What do you think about how Shake Shack pays its workers? How would you rate the food? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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