Shake Shack may not have an official opening date yet for its forthcoming Denny Triangle location (2115 Westlake Ave), but the cult East Coast burger chain is sure cranking up the anticipation factor on its first Washington restaurant with this announcement: Westlake’s fine-dining institution, Canlis, is hosting a huge, free-to-enter Shake Shack festival on June 23 with some special menu items only available for this event.
Canlis is transforming its backlot from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 23, offering live music by local bands Sisters, Spirit Award, and the Moondoggies; lawn games like corn hole and Connect 4; event posters by local artist Don Clark; and of course Shake Shack menu classics as well as unique one-offs. The famous Shackburger and crinkle-cut fries will be accompanied by a Canlis Dungeness crab melt and a Canlis Shack-wich whoopie pie for this event only, although Shake Shack does have a history of teaming with local institutions for city-specific menu items.
A major fast-casual chain and Seattle’s most respected fine-dining restaurant might seem at odds, but Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti was roommates with Mark Canlis, who owns the namesake restaurant with his brother, Brian. Garutti also served as Canlis’ general manager before he climbed the Shake Shack ladder, and he still serves on Canlis’ board of directors.
“When he said he was coming to Seattle, we knew we had to have a party,” Brian says. As for the unique Canlis items, the whoopie pie is a Shake Shack dessert available throughout the country, and Brian says, “We chose to make a NW-inspired dish off our bread oven, which lives in the parking lot.” Chef Brady Williams came up with the Dungeness crab melt: “There’s not much more to it. It’s delicious, and therefore it works,” says Brian. “Like most of his food, it’s seems simple but there a bunch of complexity hidden in there.”
This pop-up kicks off a summer series of four backlot events at Canlis. They’re casual riffs on the more buttoned-up guest chef series Canlis ran last year. Brian isn’t ready to release more information just yet, but he’s looking forward to an opportunity to ditch the nightly white tablecloth format and “let our hair down a bit more,” while still maintaining the “Canlis intentionality,” he says. A portion of the June 23 event’s proceeds will go to the Queen Anne Food Bank. Participants are encouraged to use public transportation or ride-sharing, as parking is limited.
Meanwhile, the question of Shake Shack’s opening date remains: It’s pushed back to fall from the anticipated summer timeline, but specifics are still unavailable.