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Shake Shack's Expansion Plans Are Back On Track

Rendering of a Shake Shack in New York

Now that Shake Shack has gotten comfortable with the adjustments the coronavirus pandemic forced it to make, the burger chain is back on the offensive.

Starting in the second half of this year, Shake Shack plans to open 115 to 135 new locations by the end of 2022, split between company-operated stores and licensed locations, CoStar reports. By the end of this year, 15 to 20 licensed "Shacks" are scheduled to open, as are 35 to 40 company-operated restaurants.

At the top end of its projected range, Shake Shack would be increasing its store count to 445, which would represent nearly a 45% jump from the 310 locations in operation at the end of last year. Once known for launching new locations with media blitzes and events meant to put the "grand" in grand opening, Shake Shack will now be doing virtually no press around individual openings, CEO Randy Garutti told CoStar.

Heading into 2020, Shake Shack had planned to expand by even more, but without any drive-thru locations or online ordering at the outset of the pandemic, the company had to build its touch-free infrastructure basically from scratch. Despite a 27% drop in same-store sales from 2019 to last year, Shake Shack was encouraged by fulfilling 150,000 curbside pickup orders since launching the service in July, 30% of which were from new customers, CoStar reports.

In December, the first Shake Shack with a pickup window — or, as the company calls it, a "Shack Track" — opened in the Chicago suburbs, though it only fulfills online orders, CoStar reports. The company plans to retrofit five of its locations with Shack Tracks this year, and every new store will be equipped with one. One of the planned 2021 openings could include a full drive-thru window.