Southern Brooklyn

Desperately Hungry Sheepshead Resident Begs Shake Shack To Come To Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Oh, the struggles of life in Sheepshead Bay. A beautiful waterfront. A glut of mass transit options. Prideful mom-and-pop businesses lining the commercial streets.

Sounds like hell, right? That’s the way some residents make it sound. If I had a nickel for every time a reader has told me we need one corporate franchise eatery or another – Starbucks! Outback Steakhouse! Red F’ing Mango! – I’d have enough nickels to give up this journalism racket, open up a 7-Eleven, a shove taquitos down everyone’s face-hole while yelling “ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? ARE YOU?!”

The latest is this open letter by Sheepshead Bay resident DJ Alex Edge to Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer. Edge has just finished up Meyer’s book, “Setting the Table” and it made him hungry for a “beautiful cheese drenched Shake Shake [sic] double.” But Manhattan is oh-so-far. Forty freakin’ minutes!

Rather than take the hike to the bland, corporate Disneyland that is Manhattan, Edge goes for the more dignified approach. He begged… and gave the finger to Sheepshead Bay’s existing dining options.

I am not sure why but my neighborhood is pilfered with hundreds of sushi joints, Turkish shish kebab eateries, and Russian dens filled with lavish French delicacies. Even though I am from the part of the world that enjoys a good plate of caviar, I am a simple fellow Danny. One who enjoys a great burger that’s cooked just right. A burger that’s served with a generous amount of fries, a perfect smidgen of sauce and a smile that’s ripped right out of the pages of your hunger inducing book.

Hey, man. I’m all in agreement that the Bay would benefit from more variety, but our Russian dens and Turkish eateries are the tops, and the sushi joints… well, at least they’re cheap.

Anyway, Edge goes on to provide three reasons why Shake Shack should set up shop in Southern Brooklyn sooner rather than later. Which, quite honestly, are mostly good reasons for almost any business to be getting into the game down here:

  1. Coney Island. The same iconic Coney Island that has been ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. As much as Coney Island recovered from the destruction, imagine the impact you can have on the community when you build the ultimate family destination for delicious food. The number of jobs such an enterprise would create. The amount of positive PR and feedback it can generate for your brand and the area in general.
  2. Frozen Custard. As I’m sure you know Danny, frozen custard was invented in Coney Island by two smart fellows, Archie and Elton Kohr. What better way to honor the memory of these two beautiful geniuses than by slinging frozen custard in the land of it’s forefathers.
  3. The Timing. Yes, Danny as you can tell by now I read your book carefully. The timing for this is perfect. Where 20 years ago something like this would never be possible, the amount of people who crave a better product in our area is huge. I see it every day. The sad sunk in faces of young couples consuming sushi. A family of four pretending to love a gyro. Come on. We all know a gyro doesn’t come close to the satisfaction of a burger.

I don’t know, man. I like my gyros. And the sushi… well, at least it’s cheap.

What do you think? Does Sheepshead Bay need a Shake Shack? Or would we do better to see a homegrown burger joint come into its own and take over the rest of the city?

Comment policy


  1. We don’t need one. And, I dare say, unless it does open in Coney Island someplace, it will not work elsewhere in the community. Along those lines, I’d hope that one franchise does not supplant the mom-pop businesses and establishments like R n’ R.

  2. Dear Clue, I used to say the same thing about franchise pizza in our ‘hood, but now Nostrand Avenue has both a Poppa Johns and that Dominos’ not far from it. I am sure there are other outposts of national brand pizzas, including those very cheap pies from 7-11 on Knapp Street that are competing with our local guys. So, never say never as we homogenize in the Bay as did Manhattan before us.

  3. One thing I really like about Sheepshead Bay is that most of the businesses are locally owned mom and pop shops. There isn’t that much variety though. I mean, I love Turkish food but seriously, we have enough of those places around here. Look at how packed Crapplebee’s always is. It’s terrible, but it’s the only place for plain old American bar food on Emmons…you don’t always want to walk over to Wheelers. Top Brgr tried to fill the burger void but they just weren’t very good, so they didn’t do well. Shake Shack is pretty good. I’d prefer a mom and pop but I would patronize whatever restaurant had they best burgers.

  4. I can’t say I’d be opposed to a Shake Shack, but to beg for one in a letter seems a little much. I agree that we need variety, but I don’t think Shake Shack would fill that need. Clearly some people get excited by the idea of a chain burger joint, but I just can’t seem to care.

    Has anyone tried the new burger place that opened up on Sheepshead Bay Road? Worth a visit?

    Also, as is obligatory in any thread discussing local food options, I must mention that what we really need for some variety is a good local Indian food place. With delivery please!

  5. As far as Starbucks goes, I would actually love to see one. They sell a quality product, keep their stores clean and treat their employees well. Tete a Tete is very nice but isn’t open for early commuters who want coffee. Bagel Boy has awesome coffee but sometimes you don’t have an extra 15 minutes to wait on that mammoth line (not their fault, they have tons of workers and they work fast, it’s just they are really the only game in town). I understand the desire to support local business but if a chain pays well and treats their customers and employees well then they are just as good for the community.

  6. I’d love to see a shake shack in the area. Coney Island probably would be a better option for them. There is no normal place where you can get a burger.

  7. We don’t have franchises here. We also don’t have thriving businesses here. They open/close, leaving empty storefronts all over the place. A few big franchises would in turn stabilize the independent businesses and benefit all.

  8. Quite obviously Sheepshead Bay, with its vast numbers of diverse eateries is horribly incomplete because we lack a Shake Shack. After all, all the cool kids live in neighborhoods where a Shake Shack is on every corner.

  9. I boycott Poppa Johns. First, I don’t like their pizza, but most importantly, the owner of the whole shebang came out Against paying for healthcare for his workers, even threatening to fire people & cut hours in order Not to Pay. I despise that man, & even turn off his fake smiling face when it appears on TV.

  10. One thing about mom and pop shops though is that mommy and daddy do not know how much they will make in a single day. Also, these so called mom and pop shops may be employi
    ng workers, who earn under the minimum wage, which is set. by the government. Moreover, these establishments l a employ illegals, just walk into Bagel Boy and you will see whsr

  11. I think a home grown burger would be awesome. The cattle could graze on Plumb Beach, the slaughter house would be on Knapp St, and since nobody can park in Sheepshead Bay, only locals could enjoy it.

  12. Everyone should. Randazzo’s, Bagel Boy, Brenn and Carr and Roll and Roaster arent any different. These establishments pay their workers below minimum, hire illegals and do not offer employer based healthcare. A Pizza Hut, a Red Lobster, and a Starbucks would be a better alternative. These so called mom and pop shops make money of the blood, sweat and tears of their workers, whose rights mommy and poppy violate. Do away with them. Heard of franchises?

  13. The cows can live in East New York or Bed-Stuy. I am sure that they will cause less trouble than the blacks.

  14. I agree Sheepshead Bay needs more variety in food establishments, I would absolutely love a Shake Shack, Sheepshead Bay needs an Italian Bakery too. I can’t believe there is not an Italian Bakery around here on Emmons Avenue.

  15. Two world class eateries are in SBay. As previously reported, Brennan and Carr’s and let’s not forget Jordan;s Lobster Dock, which is always crowded, serves great seafood,. I have not yet tried that other seafood place on Emmons Avenue Extension. What do you think?

  16. The only people who eat at the Papa Johns and Dominos on Nostrand are people living in the projects who dont have much $ and young teenage kids who don’t know any better.

  17. You dont have to go to applebees for American food in sheepshead bay. There are a lot of establishments in the Bay with American food that is much better than applebees. Wheelers, El Greco, Kouros Bay Diner, Brennan n Carr, Roll n Roaster, Perry’s Diner, Bassets, Jimmy’s Heros, Three Star Restaurant, My House Burgers n shakes, Jordan’s Lobster Dock, Clementes, Spiro’s restaurant ( and this was just from me naming off the top of my head)

  18. Coffee spot cafe on Jerome & Sheepshead Bay Road has really good coffee and open prettyeearly. Tete e tete is usually open pretty early to. I leave for work around 7 and they are open I believe. Starbucks really just rips you off with their insane prices but their is one in the neighborhood on Kings Highway

  19. Sheepshead Bay definitely does NOT need a Shake Shack. For one thier prices are ridiculously high for a fast food joint. You can get a better quality burger for the same price or even cheaper at many places in the Bay. Just to name a few good burger spots off the top of my head: Wheelers, Roll n Roster, Brennan & Carr, El Greco, Kouros Bay Diner, My House, Perry’s Restaurant, Three Star Restaurant, Spiro’s Restaurant

  20. The new burger place on the Bay road is very good the only thing is that their service is a little slow. I waited 15 for a burger and some fries but I figured that since they just opened they will get faster over time. The Burgers and shakes are very good though and their garlic fries are awesome

  21. We have more than enough franchise here and their are many local businesses that have been thriving in this area for decades ( Roll n Roaster, El Greco, Brennan & Carr, Randazzos)

  22. Applebee’s is coney, not sheepshead bay. And Fridays is way way out of the way to the point that people don’t even know it’s there. The main part of the Bay has only Marshalls at this point as a solid corporate presence. This creates much instability of business here, and it is demonstrated by the number of articles in SheepsheadBites which start with “xxx has closed and yyy has opened”.

    Nobody wants the Road lined with franchises. But a few of them would be very good for the neighborhood, both for the consumers and the small businesses.

  23. whats so good about shake shack? the fries remind me of the frozen crap you would get in jr highschool

  24. What SB needs is Bars. That’s what makes Bay RIdge so popular. It has restaurants, sure, but it also has clubs. To attract more young people to the bay it needs bars and not Russian clubs. Plain old American gin mills with rock n roll bands.

  25. That burger place is absolutely abysmal. I went there once with a friend and we vowed to tell everyone possible not to go there.

    1) Service is slow, yes. It took around 25 minutes for a burger with fries to be made for take-out (not to mention they took another 10 for my friend’s exact same order of burger and fries). I wouldn’t mind waiting that long too much but,

    2) It smells in there, and not in a pleasant burger cooking type of way. It smells, quite frankly, like vomit. I don’t know if this is due to Sandy and minimal efforts to touch up the place afterwards, but my god does it smell in there.

    3) The burgers are terrible. My friend and I came there very hungry (add the additional waiting time and vomit-type smell, and boy were we ready to hop out of there and just devour those burgers and fries). I don’t even understand how one could ruin a simple burger. The fries were your run-of-the-mill frozen variety you can make yourself at home, nothing special, but nowhere near offensive like the burger was.

    Stay away from that place, for your taste buds’ good.

  26. tet-a-tet are great, except they don’t open their kitchen before the opening time like bakeries usually do. which means, yes, they do open doors at 7-7.30 am, but the options are very limited.

  27. Poppa John’s is not the only one that does this…it’s the only place that made media attention. Check out Stop & Shop. Workers there make minimum wage and were able to work 30 – 40 hours a week part-time. Once the whole Obamacare thing started, guess what? A rule was strictly enforced to not allow anyone to work over 20 hours a week because they didn’t want to provide health insurance. People went from making over $1,100 a month at minimum wage to not being able to make more than $580 at that place. And I guarantee this was NOT the only establishment that did something like that.

  28. Tell the Russian’s to stop using the street as their used car lot and there will be plenty of additional parking!

  29. Agree!!! As a Sheepshead Bay transplant from Bay Ridge, I miss having night life options that aren’t pectopah’s turned discotech’s whenever some crappy house music starts blasting.

  30. Vitos’s on Avenue U is a great bakery. How far should someone have to go to get to a decent bakery though? Not everyone drives, and those that do don’t always want to give up their parking spot. Most of the restaurants you have listed in your posts are good, but are scattered all over.

  31. I personally do not like Shake Shack – have had the burgers several times and not feeling it. I think Five Guys is better. I hear Smashburger is better but have not tried it yet. We really DO need a good burger in Sheepshead Bay though.

  32. In the article, DJ Alex Edge is quoted:

    “I am not sure why but my neighborhood is pilfered with hundreds of sushi joints, Turkish shish kebab eateries, and Russian dens filled with lavish French delicacies.”


    Somebody needs a dictionary.

  33. Shake Shack > Five Guys (I like 5 guys). Smashburger is really good. You’re right we need a burger spot.

  34. Shake shack is not a fast food joint. They make everything to order, you cant even call and pick it up. Also no way do the burgers at any of the places you mentioned stack up again shake shack. The quality is way better. They use really good quality meat.

  35. I hope you don’t mean the character from the 70s, 80s, and even 90s. Because that Coney Island character was pretty terrible. Also Shake Shack has 21 locations worldwide, hardly an international conglomerate.

  36. Shake Shack is a glorified fast food joint just like Panera bread and Chipotle. I have had Shake Shack and there burgers are nothing special. I believe that all the places I mentioned have burgers just as good or better than Shake Shack and some places are actually cheaper as well

  37. no I mean the character of having original mom and pop businesses. Shake Shack is nothing special and charges way to much for a average burger and fries. I could spend the same amount at any local diner and a bigger, better meal and have someone wait on me.

  38. yes that is true. All we have are Wheelers and Log Cabin. Sheepshead Bay was never really a nightlife neighborhood though just like Gravesend and Marine Park. There are a couple of local bars and thats it.

  39. You must’ve gone on an off day. Shake Shack burgers are at least above average.

    Also, where are these diners? Not being sarcastic.

  40. I mean they are above average for a fast food place yes. I think they have better burgers than Mcdonalds and Burger King but they weren’t better than a nice classic greasy brooklyn diner burger. I was also kind of pissed they charge so much for their food..

    And any of the local diners in the area such as Kouros Bay Diner on Nostrand and El Greco on Emmons have very good large burgers and they will put any type of cheese you ask for on their burgers. I usually get swiss or pepper jack cheese on my burgers from there and they are very good. Wheelers on sheepshead bay road also makes awesome burgers as well. There are also acouple of diners on Ave U with good burgers as well such as Three Star and Spiro’s

  41. Sheepshead has all the same franchises that every other neighborhood has. Mcdonalds, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Applebees, Fridays, starbucks, None of those places I particulary care for anyway but I kind of like the fact that food franchises have not completely taken over the Bay as they have in places such as Manhattan, Staten Island and Downtown Brooklyn

  42. I mean Sheepshead Bay is a large neighborhood so I was just listing all the different places in Sheepshead Bay. Yea some seem out of the way if you do not have a car but thats just the way the neighborhood is. Im all for more Italian bakeries though, especially the old time Italian bakeries that just serve loafs of bread.

  43. dont get all defensive man. You want a juice go to fuel on the bsy road. You want a shake go to my house or Carvel. Jamba juice is not needed in the neighborhood

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