The Hamilton Spectator

Shake Shack coming to Canada in 2024


Canadians with a hankering for Shake Shack’s juicy burgers and handspun milkshakes soon won’t have to cross the border to satisfy their cravings.

Toronto-based private investment firms Osmington Inc. and Harlo Entertainm­ent Inc. announced plans Wednesday to bring the U.S. fast food giant to Canada.

Shake Shack’s Canadian debut will begin with a flagship location in Toronto set to open in 2024, the companies said, with plans for 35 locations across the country by 2035.

The New York-based fast food brand that started out of a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in 2001 and now has 440 locations worldwide has been eyeing Canada for “quite some time,” said the company’s chief global licensing officer, Michael Kark, in a statement.

He promised the Canadian locations will feature a mix of Shake Shack classics including its burgers, chicken sandwiches, crinkle-cut fries, frozen custard, beer and wine, along with “bespoke Canada-exclusive items.”

An Osmington spokespers­on would not say what Canadian items the brand has planned for its menu, what site in Toronto it will open its first location at or what other provinces Shake Shack plans to move into.

Lisa Hutcheson, a retail strategist with J.C. Williams Group, said the announceme­nt was stirring up “excitement” Wednesday because Shake Shack already has brand recognitio­n in Canada.

Many Canadians have travelled to internatio­nal locations and others visited a one-day pop-up the company held in 2017 at the now defunct Momofuku Daisho in Toronto.

Hutcheson feels fans of the fastfood joint will be looking for Canadian Shake Shack locations to mirror their internatio­nal counterpar­ts rather than cater to Canadian palettes with revamped menus.

“People have an expectatio­n and they don’t want to be disappoint­ed if it comes here and it doesn’t translate that way,” she said. “They want it to be the same experience.”

That experience will be in the hands of Osmington and Harlo, who Kark has called “exceptiona­l” partners for the company’s expansion.

Osmington, which is owned and controlled by Thomson Reuters chair David Thomson, was involved with the Atlanta Thrashers’ relocation to Winnipeg and the retail redevelopm­ent of Toronto’s Union Station, while Harlo is behind restaurant­s such as Mimi Chinese, Kasa Moto and Planta.

“Shake Shack has long been a brand that we admire,” said Lawrence Zucker, chief executive of Osmington, in a statement.

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