Shake Shack Senior Send-Off Hosted by Trinity College Board of Trustees

Founder Danny Meyer ’80, P’20 Reflects on Hospitality and his Newest Tie to Hartford Area

​Hartford, Connecticut, May 4, 2018—Free burgers, crinkle-cut fries, and frozen custard? Say no more. On April 26, Trinity College students flocked to the Koeppel Community Sports Center for a Shake Shack Senior Send-Off party on campus. The event was hosted by Trinity’s Board of Trustees, including Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer ’80, P’20, and boasted ice skating, music, games, and assorted Shack fare.

Trinity College students enjoyed free Shake Shake burgers, fries, and frozen custard during the Senior Send-Off on April 26. ​Photos by Nick Caito. To see more photos, click here.

The event gave students a chance to sample items from Shake Shack’s menu, as the fine-casual chain would open its first Hartford area location in West Hartford the following day. The West Hartford outpost continues Shake Shack’s pattern of partnering with local restaurants and breweries for certain menu items. According to, this location will serve beers by Hartford brewery City Steam, including “Naughty Nurse Pale Ale on tap and the Naughty Nurse IPA by the bottle.”

The back half of the Koeppel Center was sectioned off for ice skating, available to all attendees and even Trinity’s mascot, the Bantam, who made an appearance on the ice. The front half was dedicated as a space for students to indulge in Shack fare, enjoy a two-song performance by Trinity a capella group the Trinitones, and hear a set from Trinity’s own DJ Trouble Kidd (Jervon Adams Jr. ’20).

Throughout the night, attendees lined up to try the signature ShackBurger, a cheeseburger made with 100-percent all-natural Angus beef and topped with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce. After the burgers and fries were given to hungry students, a blueberry frozen custard was also offered.

Toward the end of the event, attendees had the chance to hear a few words from Meyer. The Shake Shack founder thanked the satisfied crowd for their attendance and jokingly hinted at the possibility of opening a Shake Shack “closer to Trinity” if the West Hartford location proves successful.

Meyer, also a member of the Board of Trustees, graduated from Trinity with a political science degree, and while he originally pursued the world of politics in Chicago as the Cook County field agent for an independent presidential campaign, he quickly changed gears.

Meyer’s career as a restaurateur began in 1985 with Union Square Cafe, a restaurant located in New York City. Since this first endeavor, Meyer has opened a multitude of restaurants with Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), including the fast-casual spot Shake Shack. What started as a small hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in 2001, has manifested itself into an internationally acclaimed chain. Shake Shack’s menu includes the signature ShackBurger, the SmokeShack, the Shroom Burger, chicken sandwiches, flat-top grilled hot dogs, crinkle-cut fries, frozen custards, and shakes, among other options.

​(L-r) Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney with Trinity student Gretchen Meyer '20 and her father, Danny Meyer '80, the founder of Shake Shack and a member of the Trinity College Board of Trustees. Photo by Nick Caito. To see more photos, click here.
Prior to the start of the Senior Send-Off event, Meyer discussed his career and his philosophies. When asked how he makes his philosophy of customer satisfaction work at a chain like Shake Shack, Meyer said, “The same principles that work at full-service fine dining work at what we call fine casual… People want to like what’s on the plate, like what’s in the glass, but more importantly, they want to like how you make them feel.”

To help ensure this, every employee at Shake Shack receives his book, Setting the Table, which was written for fine dining restaurants and discusses the lessons he has learned from pursuing an “Enlightened Hospitality” principle. Meyer added that “the cool thing about hospitality is that it doesn’t cost any more to smile than to frown.”

Another philosophy Meyer believes in is a no-tipping policy. “We didn’t take it on because it would be easy, we took it on because it feels like the right time to disrupt a system that unfortunately stymies the professionalization of the restaurant industry,” Meyer said.

He discussed tipping as a mechanism that perpetuates inequalities within restaurants, for employees both in the kitchen and in the dining room. A no-tipping policy is something that the Union Square Hospitality Group has instituted at many of its restaurants, to help ensure employees are treated well and equally.

Meyer gave advice for Trinity students who are interested in an entrepreneurial career—the same advice he would have given at the time that he began his. “If you are passionate about something and you’re lucky enough to know it, don’t deny the world of receiving that gift,” Meyer said. “Surround yourself with other people who are also interested in the same thing, who know how to do things you don’t know how to do, and don’t spend too much money at the beginning.”

Meyer ended by saying, “At the end of the day, people will respond to your enthusiasm if you truly have a solution to a problem that people didn’t even know they had.”

Click here to see more photos from the event.

While he was on campus, Meyer spoke to NBC CT about his connection to Hartford and his business philosophies. Watch the video interview here. To read stories by the Hartford Courant about Meyer and the West Hartford Shake Shack opening, click here and here

Written by Amanda Lafferty ’21 for The Trinity Tripod (re-printed with permission)