Is it news to anyone reading this blog that family farms are in decline, that organic farming is more sustainable than industrial agriculture, that a child’s health should not be a political issue, that we should put health and care back into the healthcare system, that to be schooled, you must be fueled. This year TedX Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat had very few surprises.
It was Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes Shake Shack, that captured my interest. Restaurateur Meyer traced the history of the fast food restaurant. “In 1765 a man by the name of Boulanger, opened a shop near the Louvre. There he sold what he called restaurants or bouillon restaurants – that is, meat-based consommes intended to “restore” a person’s strength.” from Online Etymology Dictionary
Meyer credited the automobile with changing the way we eat. The ability to hit the road and explore other parts of the world broadened our view of ourselves and the world. The Michelin company, maker of tires popularized that now old-fashioned thing called a road map.
Following the success of these road maps, Michelin created a rating system that depended upon the aspirational goals of restaurant goers. Although this system is still in place today, it was the car that changed our eating habits again.
Meyer credited the roadside diner of his childhood with the divergence of fine and casual dining. He pointed out that the drive through window was the ultimate freedom. It wasn’t necessary to sit down and talk to anyone. Today, it is the iPhone allows us this sense of privacy. The old-fashioned notion of the “restorative” quality of good fast food was the origin of the Shake Shack. Now in 14 cities and 10 countries around the world, and 13 US states. Shake Shack is a brand Meyer hopes is a “bouillon” restaurant.
There is a Shake Shack on my corner. When I am feeling low and want a reminder of my childhood, I head for the Shake Shack. An inexpensive alternative that provides antibiotic-free meat, some locally sourced products and restorative chow.