NY-Based Fast Food Restaurant Shake Shack Picks the Wrong Day to Mock Chick-fil-A

NY-Based Fast Food Restaurant Shake Shack Picks the Wrong Day to Mock Chick-fil-A

If you want to challenge the undisputed industry leader, make sure you get the timing right, and try not to draw the sort of attention that might make people take a closer look at your professed values.

Shake Shack, a New York City-based fast food chain, announced on Thursday that throughout the month of April it will offer a special Sunday promotion featuring its chicken sandwich. The announcement included language clearly intended to needle Chick-fil-A, which does not open on Sundays.

Also on Thursday, Nation’s Restaurant News reported new 2023 sales data that showed that last year, the Chick-fil-A “juggernaut” once again obliterated all competition in the fast food chicken category.

In 2021, Chick-fil-A generated $15 billion in sales. That number increased to $18.81 billion in 2022 and $21.58 billion in 2023, meaning Chick-fil-A sales surged by more than 43 percent over a two-year period.

Anecdotally, anyone who has seen the parade of cars in a Chick-fil-A drive-thru at nearly every hour of the day can attest to the likely accuracy of those figures.

For comparison’s sake, its two closest competitors, Popeyes and KFC, managed $5.51 billion and $5.17 billion in 2023 sales, respectively.

So Chick-fil-A dominated the market while remaining closed on Sundays. Furthermore, KFC’s 3,791 restaurants and Popeyes’ 3,051 restaurants actually eclipsed Chick-fil-A’s total of 2,964.

In other words, Chick-fil-A did substantially more with less.

Meanwhile, other fast food restaurants have begun to position themselves as competitors, igniting a “chicken sandwich war” in hopes of cutting into Chick-fil-A’s market share, NRN reported.

At first glance, Shake Shack seems an unlikely rival to Chick-fil-A. Though a nationwide chain, it had only 287 U.S. locations as of August, according to The Food Institute.

Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti described his burger-focused chain as “doing kind of a little bit of everything so that we can learn what we like best.”

Apparently, “a little bit of everything” includes aiming a not-so-subtle challenge at the industry giant.

“Here at Shake Shack, we pride ourselves on our Chicken Shack which is available 7 days a week,” the company’s Thursday announcement read.

“Every Sunday in April, we are offering a Free Chicken Shack with $10 minimum purchase with promo code: CHICKENSUNDAY. Just go to your nearest participating Shake Shack or order on our app or website to taste the true difference.”

Surely no one could read “available 7 days a week” and “CHICKENSUNDAY” in all caps without recognizing the reference to Chick-fil-A’s Sunday closures.

But the trolling did not end there. Shake Shack also noted that its sandwiches are made with “antibiotic-free chicken, something not everyone can say these days.”

Last month, Chick-fil-A backed off on a pledge to serve chicken raised with no antibiotics. Instead of “No Antibiotics Ever,” the chain promised to serve chicken raised with “No Antibiotics Important to Human Medicine.” Tyson Foods and Panera Bread recently made similar decisions.

Regardless, Shake Shack leaned in, urging consumers in its promotion announcement to “Eat More Antibiotic-Free Chicken.” Restaurant Business called this “clearly a dig at Chick-fil-A and its ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ ads.”

No one, of course, could blame Shake Shack for seeking a piece of Chick-fil-A’s gargantuan market. But having drawn the comparison themselves, the folks at Shake Shack should not mind if we carry it a bit further.

S. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s late founder, made his Christian beliefs a part of his business.

“It has proven to [be in] my interest financially as well as convenience [to permit] our people to have Sunday off where they can forget the business and other interests — devote it to the family as well as to worship if they so choose,” Cathy said in an archived interview posted to the NPR website in September 2014, shortly after Cathy’s death at the age of 93.

Nearly 10 years later, Chick-fil-A uses similar language to explain that continued practice.

Shake Shack, on the other hand, has adopted “Stand for Something Good” as its mission.

And that apparently means noting the sex and skin color of those who receive internal promotions. On this subject, the restaurant boasts of “55% going to women and 77% going to people of color.”

Well then.

To make matters worse, Shake Shack reports a “100% score on [the] Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index,” which it says it “earned for our support of the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace.”

This, of course, raises a number of questions. After all, one can understand exactly how Cathy’s Christian faith shaped his business and its Sunday closure policy.

But what does a person’s private sexual behavior have to do with working at a burger joint? And how would the work experience differ for someone outside the LGBT “community”?

None of it makes any sense. In fact, it makes about as much sense as putting the image of a man dressed as a woman on a beer can.

In short, it seems the contrast with Chick-fil-A goes deeper than a sandwich available on Sundays.

Be careful what you wish for, Shake Shack.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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