By Ryan Ori
Shake Shack plans to open a restaurant in Willis Tower in 2019, in retail space the 110-story skyscraper's owner is adding to the base of the building.
The burger chain is the first restaurant announced for the new space by property owner Blackstone Group, which is extending the lower floors of the Wacker Drive skyscraper by 300,000 square feet and plans to fill that space with bars, restaurants, shops and entertainment. The expansion, which will be topped by a large outdoor space, is expected to cost $500 million.
The bar and restaurant mix is expected to range from fast food to high-end dining, covering breakfast through after-work cocktails, said David Moore, senior vice president and portfolio manager for Blackstone's Equity Office unit.
"I think what this area craves is a high-quality food and beverage offering," Moore said. "Shake Shack was built on high-end service, differentiated product, and really raising the bar in their space."
Blackstone, a New York-based private-equity giant, previously announced a 55,000-square-foot deal with corporate meetings and event space provider Convene. The existing office space is 87 percent leased, Moore said.
Shake Shack was represented by Scott Muller and Katie Braden of CBRE. The landlord was represented in the lease by Todd Siegel, Phil Golding and Kim Wiskup of CBRE.
Shake Shack's lease is for 3,000 square feet along what will become the new Jackson Boulevard entrance, when construction is completed in 2019. There will be access from the street and from inside Chicago's tallest building.
"We were intrigued by the way Blackstone is reimagining Willis Tower," said Andrew McCaughan, vice president of development at New York-based Shake Shack. "The roof deck, the entertainment, the community they're creating is dynamic. Being a part of it is compelling."
Shake Shack currently has four Chicago-area locations, and also plans to open near Wrigley Field in 2019. The chain continues evaluating the area for additional locations, but has no other deals currently in the works, McCaughan said.
The company was founded by restaurateur Danny Meyer in 2001, selling Chicago-style hot dogs in a New York park. Shake Shack now has 84 U.S. restaurants, in 18 states and Washington, D.C. It also has 50 shops in 12 foreign countries.