Monthly Archives: November 2014

Chicago’s First Shake Shack Gets Its First Major Review

Open sign

The Windy City’s first Shake Shack opened to eager customers this week after a two-year wait, and according to Eater, the burger joint didn’t have to wait long for its first major review.

Kevin Pang, Cheeseburger Bureau Chief and reporter for the Chicago Tribune, reviewed the Shake Shack — which is located in River North, a block away from Michigan Avenue in the old Harley Davidson gift shop — within hours of the chain opening its doors.

Pang’s review gives a brief history of Shake Shack itself, which started as a hot dog cart in Manhattan that was only open during the summers. Eventually the cart became permanent and increasingly popular. These days, there are Shake Shacks internationally and, like the Chicago addition, are spreading across the U.S. itself.

Shake Shack offers a variety of burgers, hot dogs, fries, custards, and — of course — shakes. Additionally, the chain also serves beers and wines for their legal-age customers.

Pang praises Shake Shack’s SmokeShack burger, which he calls “a wonderful sandwich ($6.45 single/$9.15 double), easily best in class within a mile radius.”

In addition to the regular menu, Shake Shack offers items inspired by and incorporating local cuisine, like a hot dog that uses pork sausage from Publican Quality Meats and an ice cream dish that includes chunks of salted caramel doughnut chunks from Dazed and Infused.

The one thing that Pang was not impressed with was the crinkle cut fries, which he found to be too dry on the inside.

According to Pang, what Chicago needs is not just another burger chain, but a quality burger chain, and Shake Shack overall fits the bill.

Aside from Pang’s review, Shake Shack has already gotten some positive reviews on business review site Yelp. Almost one in four people have posted a comment or review online about a product or service they have used. In the two days after the grand opening, Shake Shack comes in at 4.5 out of five stars, though there are only 12 reviews so far. Time will tell how well Shake Shack does in the future — but they’re off to a pretty good start.

Black Cabinets Are Newest High-End Kitchen Design Trend, Designers Say

Custom Kitchen
The color black is making a big splash in modern kitchens, according to an Oct. 27 article by Jura Koncius for The Washington Post.

Black is replacing white or gray as the go-to choice for trophy kitchens across the country,” she writes of the trend that’s been dubbed “kitchen noir.”

One question in this year’s National Kitchen and Bath Style Report asked designers if they’d used black in at least one kitchen they’d done in the last year. About 33% of respondents answered yes, as opposed to only 12% five years ago.

Maria Stapperfenne, president-elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, says that clients are looking for something that sets their kitchen apart from their neighbor’s. “They want something dramatic and bold,” she continues. “And they don’t want what their mother had.”

High-End Trends
Regardless of color choices, cabinets are big business right now.

Due to rising home values and favorable lending conditions, the home construction and renovation market is rebounding.

“Not only will more houses be constructed, but many of these houses will feature larger kitchens and multiple bathrooms, the two rooms where cabinets are most often installed,” reads a market projection from ReportBuyer released Oct. 29.

According to the report, this will push demand for cabinets even higher than the approximately $20 billion the U.S. cabinet and vanity industry currently generates each year.

Consumers aren’t doing bare-bones renovations, either. “Not only will homeowners install more cabinets, but these cabinets will often feature value-added amenities that enhance convenience, such as [LED] lighting, pull-out shelves, storage racks and easy-to-open doors,” the report reads.

However, Mike Holmes, known best for his appearances on HGTV, warns homeowners against purely cosmetic upgrades. He’s quoted in a recent Boston Globe article reminding homeowners that plumbing and electrical systems need to be brought up to date in order to actually add value to a home.

Expansive Options
Since cabinets can be such a significant investment, some consumers will probably be relieved to know they aren’t the only option for going noir. There are plenty of products for those who want to add darker colors to their kitchens without committing to black cabinets.

Black appliances have been available for years, but GE is upgrading its black onyx finish (an option homeowners have had for the last 35 years) to appeal to a higher-end market. The finish, which will probably debut next year, will have a brushed graphite look, according to Lou Lenzi, GE Appliances director of industrial design.

Even small appliances are increasingly being offered in black, according to Williams-Sonoma Public Relations Director Carrie Crespo-Dixon, and don’t have to be paired with black cabinets or countertops.

“Black works well with brushed aluminum stoves, microwaves and refrigerators that are often featured in new high rise apartments or renovated spaces,” she says. “Black accents are easy ways people can make a statement without fully committing to one color in their decor.”