Shake Shack planning third Wisconsin location in Brookfield

The former Perkins restaurant at Barker and Bluemound roads in the Town of Brookfield.

TOWN OF BROOKFIELD — A growing restaurant concept described as a modern-day roadside burger stand could soon take the place of the former Perkins restaurant at Barker and Bluemound roads.

Texas-based Hunter Development Group has announced plans of bringing a Shake Shack restaurant to the high-profile parcel, 585 N. Barker Road, and could begin operations as soon as late fall.

Melanie Bagley, senior project manager with HDG, discussed the proposed project with members of the Town of Brookfield Plan Commission at a meeting Tuesday.

“It would be a great spot for us,” Bagley said. “Our intent is to clean and spruce up (the property) and use high-quality building materials. I think it will be a very nice addition to this particular corridor.”

Shake Shack’s menu includes fresh, made-to-order hamburgers, hot dogs and similar fare, in addition to shakes and frozen custard. According to its website, the eatery has a presence in 33 states, including a pair of Wisconsin locations in Milwaukee and Madison.

The restaurant, which began operations in 2004, is testing a new component to its business model that drew heavy scrutiny from commissioners during Tuesday’s preliminary review.

“We’re looking to have drive-up service, which is a fairly new concept for Shake Shack,” Bagley said. “There could be crews outside to help get orders through the queue.”

Most of the existing Shake Shack locations do not have drive-throughs, but the popularity of the amenity — fueled last year by the onset of the pandemic — prompted the addition for some of the restaurant’s newer locations.

Because of the anticipated traffic, Bagley said the Brookfield location could have dual drive-throughs to keep traffic moving steadily within the property.

Several commissioners did share concerns of traffic backups on Barker Road as customers flow in and out of the parking lot, particularly during peak times amid the lunch and dinner rush.

Preliminary traffic figures were discussed at the meeting, and more details are anticipated as the review process continues.

“My thought at this point is I still have a few questions that need to be answered,” Town Chairman Keith Henderson said. “I’d like to make darn sure the numbers for that traffic study are complete.”

Tentatively, Bagley said the Brookfield Shake Shack would operate daily from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., though she emphasized the hour range could be amended.

Shake Shack would operate out of a similar size building to Perkins, but Bagley said it would be a ground-up project with new building materials. She also indicated plans for an outdoor dining area.

When asked about the future of the dormant Perkins building, Bagley said, “It is a complete teardown.”

The proposal still needs to run through several town channels before the green light is activated.

Members of the Architectural Review Commission will take the project up in a few weeks, and the Plan Commission will have another comb-through of details late next month before the proposal goes before the Town Board for a final vote in September.

If all goes as planned, Bagley said Shake Shack could be up and running late this year.

“The big debate right now is if we would be fully permitted to get ahead of all the winter conditions,” she said.

Perkins, which operated at the Barker Road site since the late 1980s, succumbed to the COVID-19 shutdowns last March. The restaurant initially announced plans of closing temporarily when indoor dining was prohibited, but it never reopened.