In a landmark move, New York City-based cult burger stop Shake Shack has announced plans to expand to Japan. On the heels of its IPO, Shake Shack confirmed this morning in a release that it had found a partner in Japan and would open its first location in Tokyo in 2016.
SAZABY LEAGUE, Ltd. is Shake Shack's partner in Japan, and the same business that brought Starbucks to Japan in 1995. SAZABY LEAGUE is one of the most sought-after financial and operational partners for American and European companies looking to translate their business into the Far East. After opening one Shake Shack in 2016, the partners plan to open an additional nine Shake Shack locations in Japan by 2020.
This news comes just weeks after Shake Shack's successful IPO launch. Then, in an interview with Eater, Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti discussed the potential for Shake Shack Asia, but was vague about how soon Shack Shack could land in the Far East.
[W]e've spent a lot of time in Asia looking around, understanding those markets, talking to potential partners over the past few years. We're really cautious about our international growth, and when we grow there we will do it with a great partner that will sustain our level of service. We're excited that Shake Shack has this global brand that means it already reaches these markets, and that interest in these markets is strong.
In a release, Garutti expressed excitement about Shake Shack's new partner in the East: "We are absolutely thrilled to bring our first Shack to Tokyo. For years, a tremendous amount of fans have asked us when we would come to Japan. We are incredibly honored to partner with SAZABY LEAGUE, a world-class, proven operator with over forty years of expertise including tremendous success leading Starbucks' first international venture. We are truly humbled to become a part of Japan's thriving food scene."
Shake Shack Tokyo will serve all of Shake Shack's signature items, including its controversial crinkle-cut fries, beer, wine, and frozen custards. No special concrete or custard flavors have been announced. However, Shake Shack plans to work with local vendors to customize Shake Shack Tokyo and immerse it into its new neighborhood.
Until Shake Shack lands in Tokyo, its likely that the group will continue to expand in the U.S. with a focus on East Coast growth. Shake Shack most recently announced it was opening a third location in New Jersey. Shake Shack opened its first location in Baltimore yesterday.