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It’s Relatively Cheap To Open A Steak ‘n Shake Franchise

Steak ‘n Shake to become a self-serve restaurant

Have you ever dreamed of owning your own fast-food restaurant? Well, one can be yours for less than the price of a car. In 2018, Steak ‘n Shake announced a new franchise partner program in which an investor could pay a mere $10,000 to own their own location . For comparison, it costs $20,000 upfront to open a KFC, $45,000 to open a Taco Bell, more than $139,000 for a Subway, and at least $2 million to own your Wendy’s .

Under terms of the deal, the franchisee keeps 50 percent of the store’s profits with the other half going to the parent company. “I started my company with $15,000 and built a thriving enterprise,” said Sardar Biglari, CEO Steak ‘n Shake owner Biglari Holdings. “I want to provide an opportunity to other entrepreneurs who are highly motivated to excel but lack the financial means. What will be important to become a franchisee is not great capital but great ability. We are seeking to harness the power of entrepreneurs and to create a company of owners.” In addition to the initial fee, franchise owners have to complete an extensive, six-month training program. As of February 2022, Steak ‘n Shake had 159 franchise-partner restaurants, according to QSR magazine.

Steak ‘n Shake Has Been Around For Nearly A Century

Steak ‘n Shake is more than just a restaurant it’s part of Americana. After all, the burger chain has been feeding happy customers for more than 90 years. It all started way back in the 1930s with a man named Gus Belt. Wanting to attract more customers to his gas station in Normal, Illinois, Belt opened a small adjoining chicken-and-beer restaurant and called the business Shell’s Chicken. Not long after, however, he realized the area was full of similar eateries. In 1934, Belt scraped the chicken concept, as well as the gas station operation, and converted the business into a full-fledged restaurant named Steak ‘n Shake .

The new burger and shake concept was an immediate hit. Soon after opening the initial location, Belt purchased several nearby restaurants and converted them to Steak ‘n Shakes. His restaurants served food curbside to customers in their cars. By the end of the ’30s, there were eight Steak ‘n Shake restaurants throughout Illinois.

Belt passed away in 1954, leaving the business in the hands of his wife, Edith. Steak ‘n Shake remained in the Belt family until Edith sold the business to East Coast steakhouse chain Longchamps in 1969.

Steak ‘n Shake Is Replacing Servers With Self

If you haven’t been inside a Steak ‘n Shake lately, you’re in for quite a surprise when you return. According to QSR magazine, the chain is transitioning from a sit-down, fast-casual restaurant to a full-on fast-food eatery. The most notable change is the elimination of table service. Citing high costs, Steak ‘n Shake announced in early 2020 that it would no longer be employing servers at its restaurants, which it had done since opening 1934. Instead, customers can order at the counter. It wasn’t a completely new idea, as Steak n’ Shake has had quick-serve locations in its footprint since 2012, although those were at nontraditional outlets such as colleges, airports, and gas stations.

Steak ‘n Shake wasn’t done with its modern makeover. In 2021, the burger chain announced that it would be transitioning to a digital ordering system . Instead of ordering food from a person, customers will use self-ordering kiosks inside the restaurants’ dining rooms. “We are embracing efficiency and transitioning the service model to empower our guests to place and pick up their own orders,” said Sardar Biglari, chairman of Steak ‘n Shake parent company Biglari Holdings. “The dining room with table service was undoubtedly a revenue center, but it was not a profit center. A conversion to a bonafide quick-service restaurant chain will, we believe, enhance the company’s economics.”

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Worst: Hot Fudge Sundae

Desserts aren’t necessarily meant to be healthythey are supposed to be a treat! Even still, a calorie- and sugar-laden dessert following a sodium-rich meal can make you feel bloated and lethargic. If you want a healthier dessert, the dietitians recommend steering clear of the hot fudge sundae

“At 460 calories and 46 grams of sugar, the hot fudge sundae bottoms out the dessert list,” Pine said. “That’s like eating 11 and a half cubes of sugar! If you’re really in the mood for ice cream, ask for the ice cream alone or order the kids’ hot fudge sundae, which is about half the size of the regular version, meaning half the amount of calories, fat, and sugar.”

And if you think subbing in something sweet as your drink option is better, not so fast, as Davis recommends avoiding the root beer float, too. It comes in at 280 calories and 47 grams of sugar.

“Most of the sugar will come in liquid form, so it is absorbed faster and will not make you feel like you just ate double your sugar allowance,” Davis warned. “Try to avoid sweetened beverages and choose water instead.”

There Was Once A Steak ‘n Shake Boat Drive


We know all about Steak ‘n Shake’s car hop service, in which servers deliver food directly to customers’ cars. But what if you arrive by a different mode of transportation? Such as, say, a boat? Believe it or not, once upon a time a Steak ‘n Shake location in East Peoria, Illinois was indeed happy to serve you right there on the dock. Steak ‘n Shake posted proof of the long-ago service on its and its caption sounded just as surprised by the photo as the rest of us. “Who knew @Steak ‘n Shake delivered to boat docks? Apparently in Peoria, IL in 1939 we did!” the post read. It was accompanied by a vintage photo of boats docked at a marina with a sign reading, “Steak ‘n Shake Boat Landing for Food Service.”

East Peoria is located on the banks of Peoria Lake and the Illinois River, so it was a natural extension of the car hop service. Customers could spend the day out on the water and, when hunger struck, simply dock their vessels at Steak ‘n Shake’s boat landing. Then all they’d have to do was place their order and wait for trays of juicy steakburgers to be delivered right to their boat. All without ever stepping a foot on land.

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The Best & Worst Menu Items At Steak ‘n Shake

Steak ‘n Shake is a classic diner loved for its fresh, juicy steakburgers and cold, creamy milkshakes. Founded in 1934 in Illinois, the chain has remained a staple across the United States and whether you are running through the drive-thru for a quick dinner or stopping in for celebratory burgers and shakes, there are plenty of delicious options on the menu. While most of these Steak ‘n Shake menu items are best reserved as treats , there are still plenty of options that even registered dietitians find to be nutritious.

We spoke with Mascha Davis, MPH, RDN, private practice registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Eat Your Vitamins and Lindsey Pine, MS, RDN, CSSD, CLT for insight into the healthiest and least-nutritious Steak ‘n Shake menu options.

Steak ‘n Shake Was Sued By Franchisees Over Its $4 Menu

Steak ‘n Shake struck promotional gold in 2008 when it introduced a new budget-friendly menu consisting of four meals all under $4. According to the Indianapolis Star, the burger chain recorded sales growth in 16 consecutive quarters after rolling out the new menu. While it may have been popular with diners, there was one group of people that was none too pleased with the rock-bottom prices: Steak ‘n Shake franchise owners.

In 2013, five Steak ‘n Steak franchisees sued the parent company, claiming Steak ‘n Shake did not have the legal authority to set menu prices at individual franchise locations and that the value menu was eating away at their profits. “Steak ‘n Shake effectively controls both the buy and sell prices for every food item sold by franchisees,” the lawsuit said. “Lower menu prices would mean financial disaster for many franchisees.”

The group of restaurant owners included the longest-operating Steak ‘n Shake franchisee, Stuller Inc., which claimed the $4 menu would reduce annual sales at its five stores by $900,000. Stuller and Steak ‘n Shake eventually settled out of court. Another franchisee agreed to hand off ownership of its two restaurants to the parent company. This came after Steak ‘n Shake allegedly disabled the locations’ computer systems and halted food deliveries when it found out the restaurants were charging more than $4 for the meals.

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Steak ‘n Shake Is Franchising Company

We are honoring our heritage as a classic American brand by providing a path to achieving the American Dream. Do you have a successful track record in business leadership with proven positive results? Steak n Shake is seeking entrepreneurial Franchise Partners with vision, passion and an unwavering desire to take hold of the American Dream.

The ‘steak’ Is Short For Steakburger

Steak ‘N Shake moving to self-service kiosks

If you’re hankering for a T-Bone, Steak n’ Shake is not the place for you. Despite its name, the chain has never sold steaks. Instead, it has been hawking its famous Steakburgers for the better part of a century.

When Gus Belt founded Steak ‘n Shake in the 1930s, he was determined to offer the restaurant’s customers the highest-quality food. This meant making his burgers out of steaks, including round, sirloin, and T-bone cuts. To make sure diners knew exactly what they were getting, Belt would bring the steaks into the restaurant and grind the meat and form it into patties right in front of his guests. This showmanship gave rise to Steak ‘n Shake’s slogan, “In Sight It Must Be Right.”

While the meat grinding stunt has been retired and you’re no longer able to see how the patties are made, Steak ‘n Shake’s Steakburgers are still made exclusively from top-grade meat nearly 90 years later.

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Dave Letterman Once Ordered From Steak ‘n Shake While On Tv

Steak ‘n Shake scored a major expansion coup in 2012 when the chain opened a location smack dab in the middle of New York City . The restaurant, Steak ‘n Shake’s first in New York, was coincidentally located next door to the Ed Sullivan Theater. Why was this a case of serendipity, you ask? At the time, the theater was home to one of Steak ‘n Shake’s biggest fans: David Letterman. The comedian grew up eating Steakburgers in his native Indiana and now hosted “The Late Show” at the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Letterman wasted little time welcoming his new favorite neighbors. Not long after the restaurant opened its doors, the comedian dedicated a roughly 10-minute segment of his show to praising his favorite burger joint. It wasn’t all just kind words, though Letterman was hungry. To conclude the segment, he sent his camera crew over to the restaurant and ordered two Steakburgers with cheese and a couple of shakes, according to Eater NY. Next thing you know, a Steak ‘n Shake server walked out of the restaurant, into the Ed Sullivan Theater, and on stage with the host himself, all with the cameras rolling. Letterman and his bandleader Paul Shaffer ripped open the bag and enjoyed the burgers and shakes right then and there.

Steak ‘n Shake Is An International Business

In 2014, Steak ‘n Shake opened two restaurants in the United Arab Emirates, according to the Indianapolis Star. Both stores were closed the very next year, however. Just a few months later, Steak ‘n Shake debuted its first location in Kuwait. That restaurant lived a short life as well, ceasing operations in 2017 .

While Steak ‘n Shake has struggled to take hold in the Middle East, it’s had far more success in Europe. The burger chain unveiled restaurants in the popular tourist destinations of Cannes, France, and Ibiza, Spain in 2014, according to the Indianapolis Star. “If Steak ‘n Shake is willing to without compromising who they are, they will be successful,” franchising expert Bill Church told the outlet. “I can’t think of a more Americanized brand than Steak n Shake.” Church appears to have been correct. There are now more than two dozen locations in France, as well as Steak ‘n Shake restaurants in Italy and Portugal.

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Steak N Shake To Deploy Self

Logo provided.

Steak n Shake Inc. will install self-service kiosks to improve efficiency and transition to empower guests to place and pick up their own orders, according to a letter to shareholders dated Feb. 26, 2021 by Sardar Biglari, chairman of the bord of Biglari Holdings.

“Although most of our dining rooms are currently closed, we are not dispensing with them altogether rather, we intend to equip units with advanced self-service,” Biglari wrote in the letter. “What will be most evident to our returning patrons is that instead of ordering at the table, or even at a counter with an attendant, our guests will now initiate their transaction at a kiosk.”

The company planned to convert to a self-service model prior to the pandemic, Biglari wrote, but the plan would have taken several years to implement.

“We therefore made the decision to emerge from the public health crisis with a different service model for the entire system,” he wrote. “In effect, the pandemic hastened the inevitable.”

Biglari said the capital outlay per unit will be between $100,000 and $200,000 to remodel the restaurant interior, introduce a point-of-sale system and install self-order kiosks.

Each of the company’s 86 franchise partners is on a different schedule for reopening their dining room with self-service, according to the letter.

For an update on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting kiosks, .

Can I Buy A Steak N Shake Gift Card


If you know someone with a healthy appetite, theyre sure to love Steak n Shake, so pick them up a gift card today and give them the gift of a hearty meal. Gift cards are available both of the physical and the digital variety, and available in a number of eye-catching designs to suit the unique personality of the recipient.

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The Chain Has Closed Dozens Of Locations In Recent Years

If you’re Steak ‘n Shake aficionado, you may have noticed a troubling trend taking place over the last several years: the chain is shrinking. At the close of 2018, Steak ‘n Shake had 626 stores to its name, according to QSR magazine. Twelve months later, that number had dropped to 610. Things went from bad to worse the following year.

Business Insider reported Steak ‘n Shake’s net sales fell nearly $61 million during the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. That represented a 36.8% drop in revenue. Dwindling sales combined with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic forced Steak ‘n Shake to continue cutting the fat. By October, the chain had closed down 82 restaurants in 2020 alone, reducing its total footprint to 528 stores.

There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, however. In March 2021, the restaurant announced it had opened a dozen new locations and would be unveiling an additional 33 stores by the end of the year . According to its website, there are more than 550 Steak ‘n Shake restaurants in operation today.

Steak ‘n Shake Was Sued By Its Employees For Wage Theft

Franchisees aren’t the only ones who have accused Steak ‘n Shake of unfair practices. The chain was also sued by its own employees. In 2014, two St. Louis-area Steak ‘n Shake managers filed a lawsuit against the parent company for allegedly not paying them for overtime hours worked, according to QSR magazine. The suit claimed the employees were misclassified as exempt, then forced to work more than 50 hours per week and perform non-managerial tasks . Over the next three years, the suit grew to include nearly 300 managers in and around St. Louis.

In 2019, a jury sided with the employees, awarding them roughly $3 million. Just a few months later, however, a U.S. District Judge decided that number was too low. He doubled the managers’ award to $6 million and made Steak n’ Shake responsible for paying the plaintiffs an additional $1.7 million for legal and other fees.

The burger chain wasn’t out of the woods yet. By this time, it had entered mediation with several hundred other restaurant managers from around the country after they filed a similar suit. In July 2019, Steak ‘n Shake agreed to settle both class-action lawsuits for a combined $8.35 million, according to the Journal Star.

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Have Steak N Shakes Burgers Changed

Despite traffic reductions over the last two years, occasional friction with franchisees, and increasing competition from other burger competitors, Steak n Shake isnt going to alter that. Steak n Shakes pricing approach determines how much franchisees may charge, regardless of where their stores are located.

Steak ‘n Shake Brought Back Its Car Hop Service During The Covid

Steak N Shake

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of changes upon the restaurant industry, particularly in the way eateries get their food from the kitchen to their customers. For Steak ‘n Shake, this situation created an opportunity to bring back a trademark feature from back in the day. In August 2020, the burger chain announced that it would be resuming car hop service at hundreds of locations across the country . The service, in which food is delivered to customers’ vehicles and consumed in the restaurant’s parking lot, was very popular in Steak ‘n Shake’s early days. “Our modern version of the Drive-In not only reinforces those early days with delivery right to your car, but it also fits perfectly into today’s reality, offering our guests a way to enjoy dining out of the house while still protecting their family’s health,” Steve May, Steak ‘n Shake’s senior vice president, said in a press release .

Customers wanting to use the service simply needed to park in one of the participating location’s designated parking spots. Once there, they could use the Steak ‘n Shake app to place their order and select the “car hop” option. A server would deliver a tray full of food, which could be attached to the vehicle’s window, just as they did in the good ol’ days. Customers could eat in their cars or at socially distanced picnic tables.

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