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Shake Shack files for IPO

Shake Shack plans to list shares on NYSE under symbol 'SHAK.'

Shake Shack, the upscale burger joint started by restaurateur Danny Meyer, hopes to raise as much as $100 million in an initial public offering.

The chain, which began in 2001 as a cart selling Chicago-style Vienna Beef hot dogs in New York's Madison Square Park, on Monday filed paperwork for the IPO with U.S. regulators.

Many industry watchers expected that Shake Shack, which opened its first Chicago shop in November, would list shares. The company said it plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "SHAK."

"We have always been so incredibly grateful for the enormous number of people from all walks of life who genuinely love Shake Shack, and who already feel as if it's theirs," Meyer and Chief Executive Officer Randy Garutti said in a letter to prospective stockholders. "And we're excited that now it actually can be."

Shake Shack has been busy expanding. It now has 63 locations, up from 40 at the end of fiscal 2013. Sales at company-owned and licensed locations reached $140 million in 2013, up from $81 million in 2012.

The company said it plans to open at least 10 company-operated locations in the U.S. each year "for the foreseeable future."

The New York-based chain calls itself a pioneer in a new category of "fine casual" dining, which blends the convenience and value of fast-casual restaurants with high standards in ingredients, preparation, hospitality and quality. Shake Shack was started by Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, which runs fine-dining restaurants such as Union Square Cafe.

Shake Shack's menu includes burgers made with hormone and antibiotic-free beef, hot dogs, crinkle-cut fries, shakes, frozen custard, beer and wine. It caters to diners willing to pay a bit more than they would for traditional fast food, and who are willing to wait longer while the food is prepared. The average meal at Shake Shack costs about $11.95 compared with $6.40 at McDonald's, according to data from restaurant consulting firm Technomic.

Shake Shack's sales per restaurant in Manhattan, where the brand got its start, are much higher than in other U.S. locations. In fiscal 2013, company-owned U.S. locations had average unit volumes of about $5 million. Shake Shack's locations in Manhattan averaged about $7.4 million while U.S. restaurants outside Manhattan each brought in about $3.8 million, the company said. Shake Shack said the majority of its U.S. growth is expected to come outside Manhattan.

Shake Shack did not say how many shares it plans to offer, or at what price. Such details typically come as the IPO nears. At this time, it does not plan to pay a dividend.

Shake Shack's first Chicago shop, at 66 E. Ohio Street, opened in early November in a spot previously filled by a Harley-Davidson store. It plans to open a second Chicago location in 2015, in a planned hotel at the Chicago Athletic Association building across from Millennium Park.

jwohl@tribpub.com

Twitter @jessicawohl

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