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Shake Shack is launching a chicken sandwich and other regional specials as part of a collaboration series with local chefs around the United States.
The partnerships are called “Now Serving: A Collab Series by Shake Shack” in which the fast-casual chain will sell exclusive, limited edition menu items and donates part of the profits. The Southern Smoke Chicken is the first item in the collaboration, debuting in Houston on March 4 with Chris Shepherd, Owner and Executive Chef of Underbelly Hospitality. The chicken breast sandwich is served with Shepherd’s spicy bacon jam, pickled jalapeño mustard, cherry peppers, and lettuce.
Proceeds will go towards the Southern Smoke Foundation, which offers emergency relief to people in the food and beverage industry.
“Our industry continues to struggle, and the money raised from this sandwich will help food and beverage workers in crisis. Houstonians have such huge hearts – and appetites – so I hope they come out to eat for a cause and raise funds to support our industry,” Shepherd, who also cofounded the Southern Smoke Foundation, said in a press release
Shake Shack has other collaborations planned across the country, with Pinky Cole of Slutty Vegan in Atlanta, Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, Junghyun Park of Atoboy and Atomix in New York, Joseph “JJ” Johnson of FIELDTRIP in New York, and Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio in Chicago.
Here is the current schedule:
- March 4 – Houston – Chris Shepherd
- April 8 – Atlanta and New York – Pinky Cole
- May 6 – New York – Junghyun Park
- June 17 – Chicago – Sarah Grueneberg
- July 22 – San Francisco – Dominique Crenn
- September 23 – New York – JJ Johnson
Shake Shack says more collaborations will be announced. Each one also includes exclusive swag.
The chain already launched one new chicken sandwich this year, a Korean-style fried chicken in January. The launch was met with some controversy on social media and in the food world as a “lazy” way to interpret Korean fried chicken, and was called cultural appropriation, while other chefs and restaurant owners were happy Shake Shack was popularizing items like gochujang.
Shake Shack’s business continues to boom in the pandemic thanks to digital ordering, and the chain is adding drive-thrus this year to keep up. Despite the pandemic’s challenges, Shake Shack opened 20 new restaurants in 2020. It plans to open up to 90 new restaurants on “top-tier” real estate sites in urban and suburban locations over 2021 and 2022, and more than half of these will have curbside, walk-up, or drive-up facilities.