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Shake Shack to OC as Activist Seeks More Growth

The Irvine Spectrum Center, Orange County’s fifth-largest shopping center with $631 million in taxable sales for the year ending June 2022, continues to beef up its dining options.

Late last month, New York-based Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE: SHAK) opened its first OC restaurant at the mall.

The 3,000-square-foot restaurant space is located to the right of the Regal movie theater and near the Spectrum’s Javier’s restaurant.

It joins fellow burger joints Umami Burger and The Melt among the Spectrum’s nearly 170 stores, which includes over 60 food and dining options.

The first Shake Shack store opened in 2004. It now has more than 450 restaurants in the U.S. and internationally. It’s not related to the locally famous Crystal Cove Shake Shack along Coast Highway.

40th in State

The OC location marks the company’s 40th restaurant to open in California and the 300th to open domestically.

“After a lot of consumer demand, Orange County was a natural next step” after the expansion into LA, Culinary Director Mark Rosati told the Business Journal.

Two other spots are expected to open this year in Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach. A drive-thru will be included at the latter location.

“It’s important that Shake Shack pops up where our target audience  lives, works, and spends time together,” said Rosati, who first joined the company as a store manager in 2007.

More expansion could be in the cards, if Newport Beach activist investor Engaged Capital succeeds in its plans.

The firm, which has a roughly 4% stake in Shake Shack, last month struck an agreement with the company to add a pair of new board members, avoiding a proxy fight.

Shake Shack, which has a market cap of $2.8 billion, “has a unique opportunity for substantial profitable growth,” Engaged Capital founder Glenn Welling said.

New board members include Jeffrey Lawrence, the former CFO of Domino’s Pizza.

Food Focus

Dining and food continues to play a notable role in local retail development; the Spectrum Center’s biggest addition the past few years was the 34,000-square-foot Bristol Farms Newfound Market, which opened in March 2022 and counts a number of eateries alongside its core grocery store.

Elsewhere in OC, the La Habra Marketplace is now home to Wetzel Pretzel’s first storefront of a new concept dubbed Twisted by Wetzel’s.

The debut shop features a slate of “innovative and elevated” menu items by the pretzel chain, according to officials. Wetzel’s chose the region for the first location as an ode to its Southern California roots; the company was founded in Pasadena in 1994.

Bigger additions include the forthcoming opening of the 40,000-square-foot Rodeo 39 Public Market food hall in San Juan Capistrano, a development being headed up by Frontier Real Estate Investments Inc.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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