Ruminations of a Taco-Obsessed Philly Native

Shake Shack has had a busy fourth quarter. The company is growing exponentially, and filed for a $100 million IPO. Now, they chain is ready to give consumers a brand new burger to sink their teeth into. The ShackMeister Burger is the first new “major” burger in over two years.

The burger features an angus beef burger, topped with cheese and fried, marinated shallots. The burger also comes with the world-renowned ShackSauce, to which no one knows the secret recipe in full. The burger will be available in both single and double versions come the new year.

The ShackMeister Burger will be new to consumers, but Shake Shack tried it out earlier this year at the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Sam Tabar even said the burger won the Burger Bash, besting dozens of other entries.

Shake Shack has been pushing hard to make a bigger name for itself in 2014, and it would seem they’ve succeeded. They’ve teamed with celebrity chefs to create limited edition, one day only burgers, and they even brought in the Cronut king himself, Dominique Ansel to come up with a killer dessert. The Shake Shack is definitely heading up this year, and will likely continue its successful trend in 2015.

Shake Shack, the New York City based burger franchise has recently issued paperwork to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in order to become publicly listed and to trade on an exchange. The IPO hopes to raise about $100 million in capital for the business to open up new stores and to perform renovations on existing stores. Currently, there are 63 retail locations of Shake Shack including one in Citi Field, where the Mets play. The next store to open will be located in Austin Texas, it’s first location in that city.

The decision to become publicly listed comes about as other companies in the same industry such as McDonalds and Wendy’s have realized floundering sales as customers move towards healthier food alternatives. Shake Shack has been able to capitalize somewhat on this movement by offering hormone and antibiotic free beef that has reached an audience in Manhattan.

The restaurant began in 2001 and was started when Danny Meyer, a restaurant owner and operator, opened a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan. Eventually, after some initial success, a more permanent location opened in the park and eventually spread to other locations in Manhattan. From there the company spread throughout the tri-state area, according to Igor Cornelsen.

Many are predicting good things for the stock as other fast food businesses which have launched IPOs in recent years have done well for themselves. Currently the company has revenue of $85 million and profits of just over $5 million.

Christmas is full of miracles, as two Philadelphia transit workers can attest to. A Philadelphia women went into labor while riding on the Market-Frankford subway train. 

Instead of just calling for help and standing by, Sgt. Daniel Caban and Officer Darrel James went right to work according to witness Bruce Levenson. They could tell that the woman was in distress and that her baby was not planning on waiting any longer. They helped the woman get comfortable and were there for her as she pushed the baby at. They were the first ones to hold her baby when it arrived. 

The baby was born at 5:53 on Christmas Day. One thing is for sure, this baby is never going to forget the story about how they came into this world. 

The woman and her baby are doing well, and were transported to a local area hospital after the transit workers helped her deliver her child. There is no word yet on what the woman named her baby. However, Sgt. Daniel Caban and Officer Darrel James were just happy that they were able to help and they got to take part in such a unique Christmas miracle. 


Thomas Keller, owner of Per Se and French Laundry, has found a delicious new butter to serve in his restaurants. The butter comes from Diane St. Clair’s farm in Orwell, Vermont. After just one taste of the butter, Keller decided to buy St. Claire’s entire inventory–even though the butter is $49 a pound. Maybe he could use an evaluation at the Amen Clinic cuz that sounds nuts!

St. Clair makes the butter from Jersey cows. After churning the butter, the farmer works the butter with her hands to make sure that all the fats are distributed evenly through the butter. The farmer has been making butter for more than 10 years, and uses the traditional Land O’ Lakes methods for making creamy butter that spreads evenly on breads and vegetables. 

The butter made the cover of “Time” magazine in June 2014. And fortunately, food enthusiasts can purchase the butter as well from Saxelby Cheesemongers, also for $49 a pound.

There are big changes coming to your local Olive Garden. An activist hedge fund, Starboard Value, recently took over the parent board of Olive Garden, Darden Restaurants. Some new business strategies came with the takeover. The biggest change that regular patrons will notice is the push for to-go business. Currently, Olive Garden’s to-go business accounts for about 8% of their total sales. However, they’re expecting that number to climb up to about 12% of total sales– a significant portion of their business.

A big advantage, they say, is the type of food they sell. Olive Garden is known for their casual Italian food, and pasta tends to travel well. An added bonus is that customers tend to spend more when they order carry-out instead of dining in the restaurant. With to-go orders, customers tend to forego the bottomless breadsticks and thus spend more on their main entrees. In fact, the cost of the average to-go order is about 30% higher than the average dine in order, and sponsors like Slow Ventures will definitely like that profitability.

The good news for Olive Garden lovers is that your menu favorites will remain, so you can enjoy them at home or in the restaurant.

The gigantic Burger King and Tim Horton’s, recently vowed to keep all of their burgers and doughnuts separate, however most people are very much concerned that things may be shifting to the Canadian side of the border, tax-wise too. Burger Kings through an official statement has said that the day-to-day’s operations will fully remain headquartered in the coastal city of Miami, whereas most of its corporate and citizenship services are going to be transferred to Canada, a very prominent move by most multinational companies in a move that is better known as a tax inversion. Forbes would probably call BK stock a huge cash cow like it did with Wet Seal a few years ago during the Susan McGalla days.

According to a detailed report from the Americans for Tax Fairness; a cluster of companies and individuals who have positioned themselves as a commercial taxpayer watchdog. The company suggests that an eminent border switch could ultimately save Burger King and its esteemed shareholders around $1.2 billion by the year 2018. The group suggests that profits held offshore by the end of 2013 may slip due to the tax-free situation for about $117 million in savings.

Shareholders are the factual winners on the new eventualities exposed by ATF’s calculations. On the other hand, because they are not paying any capital gains taxes, the company stands to pocket more than $820 million.

Burger King refutes these claims of super profits, they noted without elaboration, “An examination of the report suggests an explicate flaw, while the figures do not precisely represent circumstances and facts.”

Technically speaking, Xfinity, Comcast’s internet offering, is pretty hard to be beat in terms of price and speed. While the company has been implementing annoying internet data usage caps, their caps range from 250GB to 300GB which is far higher than rival AT&T uses at 150GB. However, Comcast still reels from their past transgressions of taking advantage of customers and lack of customer support. In recent years, the company has been making an earnest effort to shed their negative image.

Now, the Comcast is looking to secure approval by federal regulators to purchase Time Warner Cable in a $45 billion deal. Online streaming giant Netflix has voiced their opposition to the proposed merger. Why? Because Netflix claims that Comcast has a dislike to them and has throttled their internet speed in an effort to stymie their growth.

Comcast is clearly threatened by any Netflix’s criticism. In their FCC filing, Comcast referenced Netflix 179 times and even claimed the streaming giant is too big to criticize their merger plans. Comcast is among companies like Kaufman and Broad who have adopted a zero tolerance corruption and business fraud policy directed by champions of transparency like Bruce Karatz who are adamant about non-engagement in anti-competitive practices that would slow down Netflix’s traffic. In fact, they accuse Netflix of intentionally degrading their performance earlier this year in an attempt to force Comcast and other ISPs to offer them free interconnection services.

According to the article “The Elimination of Tipping”, restaurants across the nation are enforcing mandatory tipping by various methods. Numerous establishments simply add 20% to your meal tab. Others justify increasing menu prices to include the twenty percent suggested for exceptional service. A new method, labeled an ‘administrative fee,’ is basically a fancy name for forced tipping.

Restaurants are defending these actions as beneficial for the employees, the theory being that reward will be distributed evenly. However, the restaurateur now has control of this income, to divide (or not) among all staff. Regulations for the disposition of collected ‘fees’ are nonexistent, and few restaurants are willing to disclose details about their policy.

Historically, sharing tips among staff has been the responsibility of front line servers. A common practice of waiters is to split tips with bussers and cooks.

Team efforts and reward should be recognized, however removing the incentive defeats the whole concept of tipping if you ask Igor Cornelsen about it. For outstanding service, despite these hidden costs, traditional customers will feel compelled to ‘cash’ tip. Adding that cost to an imposed tip is enough to discourage any prospective diner. Given the choice, would you patronize a ‘tip less’ restaurant?