Shake Shack serves up Public Art in Philadelphia (& around the world!)
Last year, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and Shake Shack joined forces for Summer Rendezvous, a breezy, bright mural on the wall behind Shake Shack’s first Philadelphia location. Edwin Bragg, Vice President of Marketing & Communications at Shake Shack, took a few minutes to talk to me about the partnership.
CRS: What drives Shake Shack’s giving philosophy, both historically and currently?
EB: Shake Shack’s mission is to Stand for Something Good, which means taking care of each other and our communities. Giving back is an essential to connecting to every community that Shake Shack is in. We have a program called Shack Gives Back, a company-wide community program that recognizes Shake Shack employees for volunteering. We also donate with funds, meals at Shake Shack, and more.
CRS: Can you tell me about how Shake Shack considers and takes on partnerships with nonprofit organizations?
EB: Community is at the core of Shake Shack’s DNA. On a local level we typically partner with nonprofits that are hyper-local and small enough for us to have an impact by volunteering, providing food, or giving back financially. At nearly every Shake Shack, 5% of the sales of a specific local frozen custard concrete dessert goes back to a select charity. This partner charity is featured on our menu and we volunteer with them throughout the year. We now have hundreds of nonprofit organizations and charities in the US and around the world that we work with from children’s hospitals and at-risk youth organizations to environmental clean-up groups and museums, and of course Mural Arts.
CRS: And what led you to partner with Mural Arts?
EB: Mural Arts is a wonderful example of how art can make a city a better place, and we’re proud to be a small part of the incredible fabric of creativity and beauty that they’ve weaved throughout Philly with the murals. Before we opened Shake Shack in Philadelphia, we took time to better understand the community, and we knew that Mural Arts had such a strong history in Philadelphia. We saw firsthand the many beautiful murals that adorn the buildings, and it so happened that our first restaurant on Sansom Street had a bland grey wall behind it that was a real eyesore. We met with Mural Arts staff, Executive Director Jane Golden, and artist David Guinn, and we knew immediately that we had the opportunity to be a part of something special.
CRS: How has this mural been special for this Shake Shack location?
EB: Our mural was inspired by our humble beginnings in a public park and its vibrancy of color really brings the corner of 20th and Sansom to life. Art and design are so critical to everything Shake Shack is about, and we wanted this mural to be additive to the energy of the neighborhood. Our mural in front of our Center City Shack hopefully puts us in the hearts and minds of passersby every day, and we’d love for Philadelphians to enjoy it for years to come.
CRS: Did you think specifically about a particular audience you hoped to reach with this mural as you went through the process?
EB: This mural, Summer Rendezvous, was created by David Guinn and it was such an exciting, interactive process working with him and Mural Arts. We held a public paint day, which brought out guests, neighbors and friends to join in on the fun. The beauty of a mural is that it’s there for all to enjoy and we were able to make our community a real part of it.
CRS: Have you heard from your customers about the impact of art at Shake Shack locations? Has their feedback influenced decisions about supporting art and arts nonprofits?
EB: Our guests have told us from day one when it went up that they love our mural. We see social media posts and photos that they post. We’ll continue to work with local artists in Philadelphia and around the world, and we feature local art in many of our Shacks. We recently commissioned a local artist, Jean-Pierre Villafane from Savannah College of Art and Design, to create a Shack-inspired piece for our Atlanta Shack. In one of our Istanbul Shacks we hired local artists to create nearby city scenes for our walls. And in London, we host an Artist in Residence series, where rotating artists feature their works at our Covent Garden Shack. Art really is life, and it makes any place, including a Shake Shack, that much more interesting to be in.