Shake Shack’s Founder Explains Why He Pays Workers More Money

September 14, 2016, 10:23 PM UTC
Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti Interview
Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Hospitality Group, speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Meyer and Randy Garutti, chief executive officer of Shake Shack, spoke about the burger restaurant's market strategy and efforts to build a global brand. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Eells—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Shake Shack leads the fast food industry when it comes to employees’ wages.

The chain’s millionaire Danny Meyer explained the reason for the company’s high standard in a recent interview with Business Insider. He said his team got together to discuss the areas where the company could improve, from the way Shake Shack sourced ingredients to how it hired and trained its workers. But the biggest “part of it was how people were paid,” Meyer said.

“We looked at the food world and said, ‘Over the last 20 to 30 years, America has moved so far in terms of caring how animals are raised, in terms of caring how vegetables have grown, in terms of environment,” he told Business Insider. “Isn’t it time to think about people as well and how people are paid?”

Low wages for fast food workers has been a point of contention in the industry recently. Fortune reported on the protesters leading the Fight For $15 movement against McDonald’s (MCD). For the third year in a row, the group shut down the chain’s headquarters in Chicago due to low wages and a lack of union rights.


The average fast food worker in America makes $7.98 an hour, according to PayScale. Though Shake Shack doesn’t pay the $15 an hour McDonald’s workers are fighting for, the chain’s rate is still significantly higher than others paying $10.55 an hour, according to Glassdoor.

Meyer explained that raising worker’s wages also attracts higher quality employees to the restaurant. He said, too, these employees stay in their positions at Shake Shack and work their way up the ladder into managerial roles.

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