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Proposed Shake Shack in Maple Grove may have a drive-through

It'll be the company's first drive-through in the U.S., city leaders said.

The planned Shack Shake in Maple Grove may include a drive-through. 

Plans to open a Shake Shack at the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes were initially approved in March 2020, but the project was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those plans didn't include a drive-through, and now Shake Shack and the mall are seeking to amend the plans to add one at the proposed restaurant off Elm Creek Boulevard North, in the parking lot by Red Lobster, city documents show.

The drive-through would be Shake Shack's first in the U.S. It would have two lanes for queuing and ordering for 16 vehicles, city documents show, which will help alleviate traffic from backing up in the area. 

The other aspects of the plan for the new 3,200 square foot restaurant are largely similar to what was approved last year. 

City staff recommended the Maple Grove Planning Commission approve the drive-through plan, but on Monday, March 29, it voted to table the proposal until its meeting on April 12. 

Planning Commission Chair Craig Lamothe said he's fine with the drive-through, but not as it's currently laid out, citing traffic and parking. Tabling the proposal gives developers more time to come up with an alternate plan before the Planning Commission votes on the proposal. 

The Planning Commission has to approve the PUD development stage plan amendment for the project, and then it has to be approved by the City Council. 

Drive-throughs a lifeline during the pandemic

It's unclear if Shake Shack is seeking to add the drive-through in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which significantly impacted the fast-casual burger and milkshake chainespecially early on in the pandemic during stay-at-home orders — as many of its restaurants are in and around shopping malls, which also saw a decrease in visitors last year.

Drive-throughs, though, served as a lifeline during the pandemic, representing 42% of all restaurant visits in April-June of 2020, NPD says, with drive-through visits up 26% during that time.

"Many fast-casual restaurants, which, prior to the COVID pandemic, outpaced the U.S. restaurant industry in visit and unit growth for several years, don’t have drive-thru operations and experienced steeper declines in the second calendar quarter, down 26%, than traditional quick-service restaurants," NPD notes. 

It's unclear when the Maple Grove restaurant will open, marking Shake Shack's fourth location in Minnesota

The New York-based fast-casual burger and milkshake chain first landed in Minnesota in 2016, opening a store in Mall of America in Bloomington. Since then, it has opened restaurants in the parking lot of Southdale Mall in Edina and at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Shake Shack plans to add 35-40 new restaurants in the U.S. in 2021 and 45-50 in 2020, a news release said.

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