Steak ‘n Shake on shaky ground

Illustration for article titled Steak ‘n Shake on shaky ground
Photo: TennesseePhotographer (iStock)

Since the mid-1930s, Steak ‘n Shake has made its name on those two titular items, low prices, quick service, and in many places, your ability to enjoy all of those things in the middle of the night. But while the chain’s signature steakburgers are still highly capable of passing muster, recent years have seen Steak ‘n Shake battling to keep afloat in a packed burger market.

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Earlier this year, Steak ‘n Shake ownership suggested that it could save money by withholding cherries from milkshakes, after the company’s reported losses were higher in the first quarter of 2019 than in all of 2018. The company’s recent second-quarter investors call brought more bad news; as International Business Times reports, Steak ‘n Shake has closed 106 company-owned restaurants since the beginning of this year, or about a quarter of its total holdings. That leaves just 307 total company locations nationwide. (It has an additional 203 franchised restaurants under its umbrella, as of this article’s publication.)

The claim from owners Biglari Holdings is that the closures are temporary, planned as part of a “franchise partnership program,” described as “a move by Steak ‘n Shake to convert all its stores to the new model over the next three years.” But if franchisees aren’t keen on investing in those locations, under a chain that “has also seen its same-store sales fall for the last 12 out of 13 quarters,” it appears that the steakburger mainstay and Roger Ebert’s favorite restaurant could be in dire straits.

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If, like us, your response to this news is a voracious craving for some Steak ‘n Shake, you may want to go scratch that itch while you can. There’s no telling how much longer you’ll be able to.

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DISCUSSION

the problem with steak and shake is that it’s a crap shoot if you get a good one or a bad one. the good ones are awesome, food comes out quick and there’s no shenanigans. meanwhile the bad ones are just so terrible it keeps me from going to all of them (an example: me and a friend hit up a teak and shake at 3 AM after a late night playing video games. He orders a seven by seven (which is a burger with seven patties) I order the all you can eat pancakes for $3.99. apart from one table that was already served there was no one else in the restaraunt. I didn’t get my first order of pancakes until 45 minutes after my friend had finished his seven by seven. the pankcakes were stone cold and it was clear they were trying to get me to just leave with only two pancakes (further cemented by the waitress saying that she could only have the cook prepare two more pnacakes when I was completely done with the first two and had returned the plate) unlucky for them we were both pissed by this so I sat there and at 12 pancakes out of pure spite.)