Splendor in the Parking Lot or Splendor in the Grass: Ted Drewes vs. Shake Shack

As a kid, I used to frequent the St. Louis operation that inspired  the dairy side of the Shake Shack empire, so I thought it would be fun to compare the two operations over the course of a weekend.

1. Custard Base: Shake Shack wins hands down for the custard base. It’s sweet and luscious without appearing to work at it. Like good foie gras or a hundred other death dealing treats, it doesn’t taste of fat or sugar, just flavor. No one needs to know the details. Ted Drewes custard, on the other hand, tastes not just sweet but sweetened, a bit like Ben & Jerry’s. You can perceive the effort to candify in the hints of honey: Honey Nut Cheerios style honey. Conclusion: Meyer found the spirit of the Shake Shack in St. Louis but not the recipe for the custard.

2.Custard Mix-Ins: Ted Drewes by a landslide. Their chocolate chips are ground to a sharded consistency that never goes waxy but still tastes like real chocolate. Great paired with blueberrry or cherry. Shake Shack has some delicious flavored custards on its calendar, but its house designed concretes are as over the top as a Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby or Phish Food pint, but not as creative.  Sometimes too much is too much.

3. Service: Ted Drewes by a thin margin. The servers have all the Danny Meyer friendliness plus a surprising age range that means you can get three generations’ opinion on the ideal size t-shirt for a toddler plus. Further, Ted Drewes has also been handling hour plus lines for more than half a century, which gives it a slight edge in smiling its way through that crackle of irritation we all bring to the counter when finally called up to order. This is enlightened hospitality taken to a buddhistic extreme. Saint Louis style service is simply best done by Saint Louisans.

4. Splendor in the Parking Lot: In the summer months, South County (St. Louis) has its charms, from Astroturfed front porches with friendly folks sipping Budweiser and talking baseball, to inexpensive houses and relatively low crime rates. First and foremost, though, it has the city’s best tailgate in Ted Drewes’ parking lot. The big crowds give it a festive air at night, and the heat off the asphalt and from neighboring cars makes it pleasant even into the fall. Then again, it’s a pile of concrete covered in idling cars.

5. Splendor in the Grass: Park beats parking lot. Madison Square Park is a year round glory.  Ted Drewes and its terrain are a seasonal delight.  Enough said.

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3 Responses to “Splendor in the Parking Lot or Splendor in the Grass: Ted Drewes vs. Shake Shack”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    What about Steak N’ Shake vs. Shake Shack?

  2. FaHFS Says:

    Wait for an upcoming entry.

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