Taste Radio Episode 125

Shake Shack: Zach Koff

+ Dirty Lemon


Zach Koff, the chief operating officer of beloved and fast-growing burger chain Shake Shack, is well aware that Americans are increasingly health conscious and savvy about what they eat. Yet when it comes to a good, old-fashioned meal of a burger, fries and a shake, Koff believes that most folks will choose to part with their kale and quinoa and opt for an indulgent experience. That perspective, along with a focus on a high-quality ingredients and great taste, make up the core of Shake Shack’s business philosophy and, according to Koff, are the primary reasons behind its success.

“Look, I think everybody’s super conscious of what they’re putting into their bodies and they want real ingredients,” Koff said in an interview included in this episode of Taste Radio. “And ever since the beginning, we’ve made it our mission to make sure that’s exactly what we’re using. We use high quality, premium ingredients… all the things that are going into the indulgent items are great ingredients. And I think that resonates with people who are thinking about just what they’re going to eat. But, man, when they want a cheeseburger they still want it to taste great. And that’s what we hope they trust us for every single time.”

Listen to our full conversation with Koff, who also explained how Shake Shack curates its menu and embraces limited-edition items (eel burgers!), the company’s strategy for building brand loyalty and why the chain isn’t planning on a plant-based burger anytime soon.

Also in this episode: Dirty Lemon co-founder/CEO Zak Normandin returns to the podcast to discuss the evolution of his functional beverage brand. Normandin, who first appeared in episode 50, took us on a deep dive into the company’s innovative direct-to-consumer model, including its text message ordering system, and explained why experiential moments have been critical to its marketing strategy. He also offered his take on the future of e-commerce and why grocery stores are here to stay. This episode is presented by Symrise Califormulations.

In this Episode

2:00: Interview: Zach Koff, COO, Shake Shack — Since Shake Shack opened its first location in 2004, the restaurant chain has become one of the most hyped and fastest-growing in the U.S. The company now operates nearly 200 stores across the U.S. and internationally and is opening new outposts at a rapid pace. Founded by restaurateur and Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer, Shake Shack is led by CEO Randy Garutti and COO Zach Koff. In this phone interview, BevNET Managing Editor Ray Latif  spoke with Koff about how the company has maintained its high standards and rapport with customers while continuing to expand its reach with new locations.
22:38: Interview: Zak Normandin, Co-Founder/CEO, Dirty Lemon — While Dirty Lemon, which markets functional beauty and detox beverages, is known for an eye-catching Instagram account and its high-profile collaboration with Vogue magazine, the company has caught the attention from many in the food and beverage industry for a direct-to-consumer distribution model that aims to upend traditional routes to market. Following up on our interview with  Dirty Lemon’s co-founder and CEO Zak Normandin back in episode 50 of the podcast, John Craven and Mike Schneider spoke with him again for  a deep dive into the company’s business and marketing strategy.
47:31: BodyArmor & The Pillars of a Great Brand — The hosts chat about a recent visit by Eric Bonin, the founder of Pillars Drinkable Yogurt, to BevNET HQ. They also discuss the news the Coca-Cola Co. has acquired a minority stake in fast-growing sports drink brand BodyArmor and revisit our memorable interview with co-founder Mike Repole in episode 44 of the podcast.

Also Mentioned

Shake Shack, Dirty Lemon, Pillars Drinkable Yogurt, Coca-Cola, BodyArmor, Gatorade