Two years ago, during a trip to New York, she ate there 11 days out of 12. Lily later petitioned the chain to come to Kansas City and then got a response along the lines of “you spoke, we listened to you.”
So along with getting a free Charlie Hustle T-shirt (one to each of the first 100 people in line), she was among the first to chow down — a hamburger with lettuce as a bun and a caramel shake.
Pedro Miranda, who works at Plaza retailer The North Face, had a front-row view of the conversion from Talbots to Shake Shack. On Wednesday, Shake Shack employees walked across the street with a tray of hamburgers and fries for their new neighbors.
Miranda lives just a couple blocks away from the new restaurant at 239 W. 47th St. He woke up Thursday morning thinking 9 a.m. would be a good time to get in line (he was 35th). By 10 a.m., when he was ready to give up, other people were giving him a pep talk to stay “only one more hour.”
Since he had already tried the complimentary hamburger on Wednesday, he ordered the hot dog.
“I loved it. The relish is so good,” he said. “I’ve been going to Winstead’s forever and Town Topic, but that’s more for late-night drunk food. This I can have in the middle of the day.”
When his North Face customers ask for recommendations he will say Classic Cup Cafe for local, Shake Shack for chain.
“Order while you are shopping and then go across the street,” he said.
By lunch time, customers lined up about a half block outside the restaurant.
Malick Reynolds, a Town Topic fan, found Shake Shack “amazing, very flavorful.”
Jessica Martinez, who typically goes to Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill for its “huge burger,” also was a first-time Shake Shack customer.
“It’s delicious, it’s good, it’s amazing. All the superlatives,” she said. The Pie Oh My, a vanilla frozen custard with a slice of cherry pie from Westport’s Ashleigh’s Bake Shop in Westport was especially “amazing.” (Next month the bake shop said it will offer its bourbon pecan.)
Shelly Pena drove in from Independence to try Shake Shack, then turned around because the line was too long. She went a third of a mile east to Winstead’s Steakburgers to try it — for the first time. She ordered a double Winstead’s with mayonnaise and grilled onions and fries.
Samson Truong of Liberty, who was eating at Winstead’s, said the establishment has not only been around for a long time — since 1940 — they make “pretty good burgers.”
“We love to try new places, all the time, so we will probably try (Shake Shack). But beating Winstead’s? I don’t know,” he said.
And at Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill on Thursday, Dan Kumm said he’s been a loyal customer since 1998 for its “big and always consistent best burger in town.” It’s even the restaurant’s twitter handle: @bestburgerkc.
Will he be trying Shake Shack?
“I don’t know what that is,” he said.
Shake Shack is among the first-to-market tenants that new Plaza owners have said they want to bring to the historic shopping center. True Food Kitchen, scheduled to open in 2019, is another tenant.