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Randy Garutti: 10 Things You Didn't Know about Shake Shack's CEO


Restaurant chains are some of the best known and most profitable businesses in the world. Thousands of people frequent fast food restaurants every day, and these popular brands take on a place of importance in society. While most people think of McDonald’s and Burger King when they think of fast food chains, other brands are making their mark as well. One such brand is Shake Shack, a restaurant famous for its milkshakes, burgers, and hot dogs. Much of Shake Shack’s success is owed to its CEO, Randy Garutti.

Randy Garutti was responsible for the inception of the chain as well as just about every major development it has experienced thus far. The chain has spread across the US and into other countries while maintaining its unique identity. Garutti convinced Danny Meyer to open the first Shake Shack in 2004 as part of Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG). This group was fundamental in the restoration of Madison Square Park, and therefore has been greatly influenced by New York City.

While this chain of restaurants is incredibly popular and growing quickly, many people do not know a great deal about the man behind this success. Companies do not grow to be worth over $1 billion on their own, so it is important to understand the type of person that Garutti is and how he led Shake Shack to such tremendous heights. Here are ten of the most interesting facts about the CEO.

10. He has a long history of running restaurants

Although Shake Shack is by far his greatest success, Garutti has had a great deal of experience in the world of restaurant management. In fact, he has spent over 15 years developing his skills as a leader within the USGH world. Most notably, this included a tenure as the Director of Operations for all USHG restaurants. As well, he served as the General Manager for the award-winning Union Square Café. This impressive resume speaks to Garutti’s considerable experience. Clearly, he has used this experience to make Shake Shack one of the most popular chains in the country.

9. He is known for his passion

Although he is certainly a shrewd businessman, Garutti is widely known to be very passionate about his work. This is reflected in the success of Shake Shack. This passion for hospitality developed in his youth, when he worked at a bagel shop at age 13 and would later work for Chili’s. In order to open the first Shack Shake, Garutti had a 45-minute conversation with Danny Meyer. In this meeting, Meyer has stated that he was very impressed by Garutti’s enthusiasm for the project. Therefore, Garutti’s passion is not only responsible for Shake Shack’s success today, but was also instrumental in its creation.

8. He is well educated

Although his passion is crucial to his success, Garutti also has formal training in the restaurant industry. Most importantly, he graduated from the prestigious Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration in 1997. This means that he has the knowledge and background to provide a solid foundation that he has built upon with his experience working in other restaurants.

7. He is known to be genuine

Successful businesses must compete with each other to assert market dominance and gain customers. However, Garutti has not allowed the competitive nature of the restaurant industry to change who he is as a person. Instead, he has stated that he strives to be the same person whether talking to employees, investors, or interviewers. Shake Shack employees are certainly aware of how genuine and authentic Garutti is. He commonly dresses casually in jeans, and speaks openly and frankly to his employees. He once told workers at a grand opening to attempt to be so generous that the restaurant would go out of business.

6. He is a perfectionist

Although he speaks honestly and dresses casually, it would be a mistake to assume that Garutti is not a superb professional. In fact, he has a keen eye for producing the perfect atmosphere at Shake Shack locations. He does this by keeping an eye on the details while having the big picture in mind. He has stated in the past that he despises small imperfections like ketchup stains.

5. He started out with a hot dog cart

Incredibly, the millions of dollars brought in by Shake Shack locations each day are all owed to a hot dog stand. One of Garutti’s first ventures into the hospitality industry was a hot dog stand that he ran. He used nearby restaurants to supply the food and ingredients. This was a highly popular stand that grew into a stadium vendor, and ultimately evolved to become Shake Shack.

4. Randy Garutti Net Worth

Naturally, the CEO of a massive restaurant chain like Shake Shack is not hurting for cash. His earnings have been reported to top $6.7 million. However, this sum is only what he has earned as compensation for his role in management. His real wealth lies in the fact that he has a 7% share in Shake Shack. These shares are estimated to be worth more than $46 million.

3. He has great plans for the future

Most people would be satisfied with being at the helm of a chain that boasts over 100 locations across the US and other countries. However, ambitious individuals like Garutti are constantly seeking further growth. He hopes that Shake Shack will have over 450 locations in the near future. However, he is not blindly hoping for more success. Instead, he has been frank about the fact that the restaurant’s success depends on customer satisfaction. Providing a healthier fast food alternative, one that does not use hormones or antibiotics in its meat, will appeal to the new generation of consumers who are concerned with what they are eating.

2. He is dedicated to improving lives

In addition to growing the company, Garutti is devoted to making a positive impact on the world. This devotion is rooted in the philosophy of Shake Shack, which was created to build a stronger sense of community in its location. As well, Garutti uses the popularity of the chain to provide assistance for charitable organizations. For instance, one location raised over $285,000 in a single month for No Kid Hungry, a charity which helps provide food for needy children.

1. His restaurants outperform McDonald’s

Although Shake Shack is growing in popularity, the giant in the fast food industry is still McDonald’s. However, Shake Shack locations actually perform better on average than McDonald’s restaurants. The $4 million annual performance of the average Shake Shack location is more than double the performance of the average McDonald’s location.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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