Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are probably the most well known business titans alive. As confirmed by reddit AMAs and various other sources, they have one major common denominator. Their favorite food is the humble hamburger.
Nothing represents American capitalism like a burger and fries. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are the next generation’s business titans. However, I think I have read somewhere that Bezos also has crowned the burger as his ideal meal.
When China opened up to the world, their citizens saw a car in every driveway, a white picket fence, happy family and the golden arches of McDonalds on their boxy television sets with grainy signal. This image has inspired billions to work hard and seize the
means of production opportunity.
The hamburger represents wealth and success. Everyone who works in finance enjoys burgers, so this post is for the edification of aspiring investment bankers who do not have as much experience eating burgers.
This is about fast casual burger joints – which means that it comes in at a more premium price point/fewer locations versus the mass market and underclass fast food such as McDonald’s and Burger King. They universally taste better as well.
As with any other quick service restaurant, franchised stores generally result in diminished quality control versus firms that operate and own in house and protect their brands (or the company who owns the country license).
Shake Shack makes the best burgers. Their fries are also the best and they even make treats for your dog. Their packaging and logo are by far the most trendy. Unlike most of the other fast casual burger chains, Shake Shack is also publicly listed, which makes an easy talking point if you are networking with other investment bankers at Shake Shack.
The ticker is NYSE: SHAK, and no you should not buy it right now because it has a very high multiple and leverage. For your first visit to Shake Shack, you should get the double Shackburger with fries and a shake or Double SmokeShack with cheese fries and a shake and a concrete. They also serve wine and beer. If you are on a date at Shake Shack consider buying the doggie treats for your imaginary dog.
I would never eat the mushroom burger with cheese because it has no meat, but non-beef eaters (Taoists) have told me that is very good. The chicken burger and hot dog are also very good.
They have a wide variety of floats, and I have tried the root beer and creamsicle floats – both are absolutely unreal. I have also tried the strawberry, black and white and chocolate shakes – all very good. Shake Shack is an ephemeral bodily experience which is kind of similar to the first time you go through a drive through and someone rollerblades out to you and gives you a bunch of fast food before you watch an outdoor drive-in movie except it’s the millennial edition of that.
Shake Shack was founded by a prominent restauranteur in New York, which is the banking capital of the world. The interior design for the restaurants is tasteful and chic.
As with any excellent restaurant, customer experience is king. I recently went and had their holiday themed Christmas shake which truly felt like Christmas even though its January and debt capital markets have opened again.
In N’ Out Burger
People from California swear by In N’ Out. It is only in California and is probably the most hyped burger. They also have a secret menu which everyone knows, so it is not actually cool. If you have not seen the secret menu, look it up on Google before you go because the staff are so unhelpful as to not share with you what everyone else already knows.
So admittedly the burger was pretty good and the ingredients are probably the freshest amongst the burger joints but the fries were stale and tasted like cardboard. You are supposed to get the fries “Animal Style” which means they dump a bunch of thousand island dressing on it to mask the stale taste of the fries.
Apparently Jeremy Lin whined while he was in New York that there was no In N’ Out. This is why he got traded and is playing in China now. Don’t talk about In N’ Out to other bankers unless they are from California.
The interior design is meant to look like an old school burger joint. For the one I went to in Torrance, anyway.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Five Guys probably gets the most hype of all the burger joints after Shake Shack and In N’ Out. Everything in the store is made with peanut oil so do not go in there if you have a peanut allergy. They have open boxes of peanuts to remind you that you are in danger.
Five Guys was OK. The burger was not bad and the fries were alright but it’s not Shake Shack.
UPDATE: I revisited a high foot traffic Five Guys location just earlier this week and found the burger to lack structural integrity. It fell apart, I ate the last piece of patty with my hands and the last bit of bun was drenched in soup. Except there was no soup. What I mean by this is I ordered the works, which for the edification of the aristocrats that read this website means that it includes all dressings and fixin’s. So tomatoes, lettuce, various sauces and what not. I ordered the double bacon cheeseburger and also had their Cajun fries.
The fries were soggy, but not bad. The burger was tasty but was a mess to eat, and given that it is flu season, made it an altogether uncomfortable experience. The music choices were also lame – Weezer and Sum 41 with some Top 40. This is roughly two decades away from being cool.
Someone bought them lately – I had this at LAX and can’t give any color because I don’t recall all that clearly. This means the burger was not that good. They do have a cult following, I am just checking – Yum! Brands is the acquirer for $375 million.
Fatburger is alright. I am not sure it really constitutes a fast casual burger – probably on the lower bound of affluence but better than McDonalds. Kanye West and Shaq own a lot of Fatburger franchises.
They are well known for their shakes – the ones I went to usually provided poutine. Nothing to write home about.
Don’t remember so it wasn’t that good.
Potbelly is not a burger joint. Their sandwiches are very good. Don’t buy the stock.
They were good.
Toronto Burger Joints
Since I spent my formative years in the 6ix I may as well share my thoughts on the establishments there. On the whole, Canadian burgers are not as good as American burgers.
South St. Burger
This was ok. Not fantastic. Certainly not a place to talk business. Black and white checker patterns for interior design – not inspired.
I usually got multiple patties and a poutine.
Big Smoke Burger
This place is kind of neat because they have a consistent albeit mildly blasphemous theme. Unfortunately it is diluted by after nightlife crowd. Too greasy. I feel like I have always had a good burger from here but did not always leave happy.
If you must, get the California Burger with butterfried bun (it is key).
One location is next to Burrito Boyz. Burrito Boyz is kind of pointless if you ask me because Chipotle is in Toronto but I can see why the post-club riff raff appreciates it.
It’s alright. Similar to the Burger’s Priest they have a theme which is centered around euphemism and innuendo. Very crass.
Trash. Might actually be mass market. Not sure, but someone from asset management took me here. Should have known better than to trust him because all they do is hug the index and charge a 2% management expense ratio for doing nothing.
Official Rankings – Burger League Table
- Shake Shack
Honorable mentions include Chick Fil A (who primarily serve chicken) and Costco. Costco’s restaurant is probably one of the best, but they were disqualified on the basis of selling other things that are not burgers. Costco makes a very good pizza, chicken strips and the best poutine, but this is inconsistent across warehouses.