Why Shake Shack is meeting N.J. customers where they are — in their car

Recently opened North Brunswick location features two-lane drive-thru format, the chain’s 1st in state

It’s always a big deal — followed by a traffic jam — when Shake Shack opens a new location in New Jersey.

The franchise’s recent opening in North Brunswick certainly filled that vision. This time, however, the line of cars was wanted — and planned for.

The location at 240 Grand Ave., the fast-casual chain’s 20th in the state, marks Shake Shack’s first drive-thru location in New Jersey — and just its 32nd of more than 500 locations nationwide. In fact, the 3,500-square-foot North Brunswick Shake Shack features a double drive-thru.

Shake Shack spokesperson Kate DeMarco said the drive-thru feature represents the brand wanting to meet (and serve) its customers in a manner in which many prefer.

“We’re always looking to meet our guests where they’re at, and the added convenience of a drive-thru is something we know guests were looking for to align with their lifestyles,” she said.

“The drive-thru format is an extension of our in-Shack dining experience that allows Shake Shack to continue to be competitive and grow, while still maintaining the guest experience our fans know and love.”

Michael Gartenberg, a director at Garden Commercial, which is the developer of the property, said Shake Shack’s impact will be felt far beyond the store.

“Shake Shack has a loyal following, and we are thrilled to bring this strong, nationally recognized brand to (the) MainStreet NB (mixed-use development),” he said.

“The opening represents another milestone for this master-planned project’s retail component and introduces a welcome new dining option for the entire North Brunswick community.”

The Shake Shack opening will be followed by another fast casual dining addition at MainStreet NB. Chipotle is set to launch operations for its new 2,600-square-foot location in February. It will include a digital drive-thru order pickup known as Chipotlane.

Drive-thru service, which was big before the pandemic, picked up during the pandemic. Shack Shake, in fact, opened its first drive-thru in December 2021.

DeMarco said Shake Shack will continue to explore its options with the format moving forward.

“Drive-thru is still relatively new for Shake Shack, but this format allows us to break into new markets and strengthen existing ones with the opportunities for guests to order in the way they prefer,” she said.