How Allergy Inclusive is Shake Shack?

by Sarah Baxter, with Thao Dinh
February 8, 2023

This week’s spotlighted restaurant is the popular burger chain, Shake Shack! Born out of Manhattan, New York City, Shake Shack originated from a hot dog cart that found instantaneous success in the early 2000s. It was then in 2004 the name Shake Shack came to be, and after formulating a permanent structure in the city, it would be soon after the restaurant would turn into the chain establishment it is today. With menu options like their original Shack Burger, Chicken Bites, and their famous crinkle fries, Shake Shack is beloved for good reason. We are specifically looking at Crystal Cove’s Shack Shake this week, located in Newport Beach, CA. This oceanside restaurant features special dishes that can’t be found at just any Shake Shack. Let’s take a look at what those are, and how Shake Shack tackles allergen-specific foods on their menu.

How is Shake Shack’s menu when it comes to allergies? Well, from a first glance at their website, they have a complete allergen guide that outlines each dish and what exact allergens it does and does not contain. Included in this guide is every dish from their burgers to sides, highlighting the fact that many do not contain tree nuts, fish, peanuts, shellfish, and soy. Many dishes do in fact contain popular allergens such as dairy, eggs, and gluten. Despite the fact that a number of options contain these allergens, the transparency of Shake Shack to make allergen information available at such accessibility is a plus. Accommodation-wise, they can omit ingredients at request.

Now for our allergen of the week, dairy! Some dairy-free options at Shake Shack (specifically at Crystal Cove in Orange County, CA) include the Cove Veggie sandwich, the Turkey Club, the Seared Ahi Sandwich, “The Cove” Dog, and Avocado Toast. The Seared Ahi sandwich contains tasty ingredients such as seared yellow tail ahi tuna, ginger herb slaw, spinach, tomato, sriracha mayo, and a wheat bun. For a vegan option, the Avocado Toast features sourdough toast, two eggs, avocado (of course!), and spike seasoning. Due to the nature of the cuisine, dairy-free options elsewhere on the menu might be difficult, but with omitting ingredients such as cheese or their signature sauce, options open up for those with a dairy-free diet.

So, how does Nutripair rate Crystal Cove’s Shake Shack overall? We give this Shake Shack a medium rating, as there are many good options for the top eight allergies, but navigating a dairy-free diet at this establishment could run you into some difficulty. Shake Shack can improve its’ allergy friendliness by training all employees on food allergies, and only managers are well-trained at the moment. Ingredients can be substituted, but not any of their drinks. Vegetarian items are labeled with a leaf symbol, and the menu is very straightforward and easy to read; however, the in-person menu lacks a legend key for allergens, and the sauce options are not listed (but as mentioned before, they have an extensive allergen guide located on their website). Servers can help customers navigate the menu when they have a unique allergy, but they do not prerequisite orders with a question on dietary restrictions and have not completed any allergen training course.

MEDIUM Pear Rating – Criteria 1/4, Two to Three Menu Items for each of the Top 8 Allergens

HIGH Pear Rating – Criteria 2/4, Accommodating with Substitutes

MEDIUM Pear Rating – Criteria 3/4, How Clearly Dishes are Labeled on Menu

LOW Pear Rating – Criteria 4/4, How Trained Staff Are When Handling Dietary Restrictions

As mentioned before, Nutripair was created to make your experience at restaurants as convenient, easy, and safe as possible. To experience this modernized way of dining with dietary preferences, sign up for our platform!

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