It seems like some of the world's most successful franchises started off as doodles on unassuming pieces of paper. Author J.K. Rowling wrote what was the beginning of the Harry Potter series on the back of napkin, and it turns out restaurateur Danny Meyer and Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti sketched plans for the first-ever Shake Shack on a scrap of paper back in the early aughts.
As Business Insider notes, the sketch laid the blueprint for what is now a "billion-dollar business with more than 60 locations across the US." In the late 1990s, Madison Park was largely in disrepair. In 1997, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the City Parks Foundation began to raise funds for the park's revitalization. Once the remodel was complete in 2000, Union Square Hospitality Group installed a hot dog stand — which was originally set-up within of Eleven Madison Park — inside the park. Several years later, the city began soliciting plans to erect a seasonal stall on the park. Last year, Garutti told Forbes:
"On that day, Danny sat down and scribbled on the back of a napkin his vision of a modern version of a roadside burger stand. Not retro, not ‘50s music playing, but today's version of what made that place great. All we ever wanted to do at Shake Shack was to have good people serving fresh food, and to sell a few hot dogs. We put the burger on the menu and the rest is history."
The company — which went public in January — has made Meyer a very wealthy man.
Pictured below, the sketch details the original vision for Shake Shack. It includes many of the offerings that Shake Shack has on its menus today, including frozen custard and mix-ins. But the sketch also reveals that Meyer and company had plans to serve a tuna burger, doughnuts, chocolate fudge cookies, sundaes, custard in cones, and even floats. As for drinks, Meyer initially planned to serve coffee (espresso, cappuccinos, and drip) as well as fresh orange and pineapple juices. Most notably, the sketch reveals that the controversial crinkle cut fries were part of Meyer's plans from the start. Check it out:
[Image: Shake Shack]