To the untrained eye, one would think fast casual burger giant Shake Shack had already arrived at the Mall of America. Descending the escalator to the third floor, the distinctive green neon icon of a hamburger caught my eye, and my adrenaline rushed. Shake Shack is my favorite burger. The one I've had to travel to New York in order to get, and finally, it had arrived at the Mall of America! Hooray! But wait ... It wasn't scheduled to open until summer. So what was this? Same color scheme, same logo, even the phrase "Shake it Off!" emblazoned in fire engine red on the back wall, easily spotted from the enormous window.
But no. This isn't Shake Shack at all. It's Burger Burger, newly instituted at the MOA by Kaskaid, the same hospitality company responsible for Crave, Union, Salsa a la Salsa, and more new concepts (Zio, Avenida Cocina & Bar) including this one.
It's difficult to overstate the similarities between the Burger Burger design and that of Shake Shack. Even with the websites set side-by-side, I had to keep toggling back and forth to decipher one from the other. In the end, Burger Burger's is a bit chunkier, with three (count 'em) sesame seed flecks set upon the bun.
A little background: Shake Shack is a publicly traded phenomenon, which saw its largest year in 2015, to the tune of a billion or so dollar IPO. While their "better burger" brand includes sourcing high-quality natural ingredients, cooking food to order, and placing emphasis on the happiness of customers and employees, their branding has no small amount of impact on their stratospheric place in the marketplace, either.
Design company Pentagram and graphic designer Paula Scher are responsible for the now iconic logo and color scheme, and are quoted in Fast Company as saying they wanted "phony neon" that "tapped the core idea behind Shake Shack itself — a '50s burger joint reimagined for a modern context." The squiggly burger, shake, and fry icons evoked classic signage.
Burger Burger was designed locally by Shea. In a statement from Shea, they said, "We worked on the space design, but the Kaskaid team did the naming and logo/branding all in house."
Like Shake Shack, Burger Burger is emphasizing its use of locally raised and freshly ground beef (and even has an exhibition window on the facade, ostensibly for transparency) scratch made and on premises preparations, as well as specialty shakes.
According to an anonymous source, Shake Shake had not yet signed a lease on their Mall of America location (which will be the first Shake Shack in the Twin Cities market) at the time that Burger Burger moved in.
When reached for comment, Kam Talebi, co-owner of Kaskaid, said, "We have a completely different logo and concept than Shake Shack," and that the Shake Shack approach is "clearly not a direction we wanted to go." He added he can't even picture what color scheme Shake Shack uses in their restaurants, except that they use a silver and maybe a green, and that when choosing their own color scheme, they chose green to "reflect the color of freshness," and if the colors are similar it was not intentional.
He added that while they are in the burgers and fries business, just as Shake Shack is, their concept and verbiage is "very, very different" than Shake Shack, and that he "happens to know Danny Meyer," Shake Shack's New York City restaurateur.
Mall of America, 320 S. Ave., Bloomington