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Will Shake Shack Shake Into Westport?

Move over Five Guys, a new, highly-touted, burger joint might be shaking its way into town. That's right: New York's own Shake Shack wants to bring its hand-formed burgers, dogs, French fries, frozen custard and of course, milkshakes, to Westport. Are you hungry yet?

Shake Shack Chief Operating Officer Randy Garutti spoke at the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night, describing the company's proposal to bring their modern day "roadside" burger stand to 1849 Post Road E., formerly occupied by Pho Mekong Restaurant.

"We are a very responsible business. Just ask anyone who's dined at our restaurants," Garrutti said. "We're family-friendly. We hope to bring a lot of jobs to the community with Shake Shack. We have a lot of green practices ...we really try to be responsible in many ways."

Shake Shack, which also serves beer and wine, is not a fast food place, Garutti noted. As a result,  no drive-thru is required.

"We buzz you after your food is ready," he said. "Each Shake Shack is built for people to hangout and stay. We're anti-fast-food. I think you'll find we're very different from other burger places out there."

Started in 2004, the first Shake Shack opened in New York's Madison Square Park. Currently, the seven Shake Shack locations include five in New York City, (including one at Citifield), one in Saratoga Springs, NY, as well as one in Miami. If approved, the Westport Shake Shack would be Connecticut's first.

One of Shake Shack's special features, Garutti said at the meeting, is that no two restaurants are alike.

"We do location-specific menu items," in addition to the traditional Shake Shack menu, he said. "We'll come up with some fun ones for the town of Westport, that's for sure."

Thursday's Shake Shack presentation was a pre-application hearing, which does not include public comment. A public hearing will be scheduled once a formal application is received.

As no action was taken at the meeting, the plans for a Westport Shake Shack are just that, despite published reports that say Shake Shack is opening in the second half of 2011.

"Nothing has been established for sure. We have to approve it first," said Ron Corwin, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

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