A Message from our CEO, Randy Garutti

December 11, 2023
CEO Randy Garutti

CEO Randy Garutti to Retire from Shake Shack After 24 Years in the Company

Dear Shack Team,

This week I informed our Board of Directors that I will retire from Shake Shack in 2024. I’ll be continuing to lead the Company as the Board searches for a new CEO and through that transition. Following that time, I intend to transition to an advisory role for the Company through 2024 to ensure a seamless CEO transition and continue to support all of you.

I never quite knew when this day would come, but in my heart, I’ve arrived at the realization that for me, my family and the Company, this is the right time. Life plays out in a series of seasons. I’ve been lucky enough to experience boundless joy through this season of my life, and I know it’s time for the Company to benefit from its next generation of leaders. Our current leadership team is an incredible group and is well positioned to drive the Company forward to even greater heights. For the better part of the last two decades, Shake Shack has been my life’s work and I’ve never been more optimistic about our team, our leaders and what’s ahead for this Company.

Twenty-four years ago, Danny Meyer hired me and said, “I’m not sure you’re ready for this, but I'm going to give you a shot to lead Tabla,” the Indian restaurant fronting Madison Square Park in Manhattan. Over the years, Danny’s continued to have the courage to give me a shot. I’m forever grateful to the greatest mentor, partner and friend I could ever know and I hope I’ve paid that forward by building a culture here that lives the same.

For years, USHG was strictly a fine-dining company, building New York’s most beloved one-of-a-kind restaurants. That was until 2001, when Danny, in supporting the rejuvenation of the Park, asked the team to build a hot dog cart as part of an art project. Turns out people loved our hot dogs, which we cooked in the private dining kitchen of the renowned Eleven Madison Park restaurant. For three summers, our teams helped raise money for the Park and provided joy for our community selling dogs, lemonades and more.

In 2004, Danny envisioned a permanent kiosk in the Park, quickly scratched a pencil sketch of the menu, and we opened our very first Shake Shack. All the while, our teams were busy leading fine-dining restaurants, but I kept finding myself drawn to, and most comfortable, when I was in the Shack spinning shakes and cooking ShackBurgers with the team. But in those days the Shack was a one-off project - meant to activate and raise money for Madison Square Park - and none of us imagined we'd ever have a second Shack, never mind a global family. Until one day, when I was walking home in 2007 on the Upper West Side, I saw a “for rent” sign on a storefront. I called Danny immediately and we set out to build the second Shack. That night, I came home to my pregnant wife, and told her I was going to focus exclusively on burgers and see what Shake Shack could become. In our wildest dreams, none of us knew then what this Company could or would achieve. Many of you were here in those days, and it was your work that kickstarted the Company.

Today, YOU have built a company that has changed an industry and improved the lives of countless leaders and team members. More than 500 Shacks, 33 states, and 18 countries later, this journey has just begun.

Through it all, this Company has worked tirelessly to be a place where everyone is welcome. We have created uplifting experiences for our team, our guests, our communities, our suppliers, and our shareholders. I’ve seen us change lives, watching hourly team members graduate up through our Company, learn new skills and allow Shake Shack to be the place where they can do their life’s best work and create a career to be proud of.

Our brand somehow has transcended borders - across the United States, and from Dubai to Shanghai, Tokyo to Singapore, London to Mexico City and so many places in between. When people hear the words Shake Shack, it brings a smile, conjures up a special feeling, something familiar, yet unique, confident but understated, innovative and timeless all at once. And while our burgers, fries and shakes can’t be beat, it’s never been solely our products that have made Shake Shack what it is. It’s always been about you, and the comfortable, genuine and sincere hospitality you’ve brought to caring for each other that turned a park-side burger joint into something so much more meaningful.

Our culture, to Stand For Something Good, has never wavered. It thrives, not because those words are on the wall and certainly not because of any single person. Our culture lives because of the decisions YOU continue to make day in and day out, through who you hire, what you choose to celebrate, and the powerful combination of hospitality and excellence you bring to every interaction. Even when we’ve made mistakes, we’ve always been a team who loves and respects each other, who listens, learns, fails, and triumphs - together. That is the secret in the ShackSauce, and I hope it always will be.

Shake Shack has been built to last. With each of us holding a place in the cornerstone of its foundation, building together, one brick, one team member, one guest, one community, and one burger at a time. I learned a long time ago that anything in life can be achieved when led by one person with effort and enthusiasm. It’s all we can really control in life. Today, I ask you to be that one person with enthusiasm in your work, on your shift, and for each other. With that, Shake Shack can achieve anything and so can you.

I want to especially thank my incredible wife, Maria, and our three children. They have given more to Shake Shack than most can understand. The sacrifices they’ve made so that I could be present for you when I’ve needed to be have known no bounds. Their endless love and support for me has given me the energy I’ve needed to keep pushing us forward. This next season of my life will be for them.

It has been the honor of my career to lead you and to be led by you. I look forward to continuing to lead us through this next transition, and am confident that for all we’ve already achieved, the best is yet to come.

With love and admiration for each of you,

Randy Garutti