Randy Garutti, who guided Shake Shack from its early days as a New York City hot dog cart into a global, publicly traded fast-casual burger giant, will retire as the company’s CEO in 2024, the company announced on Monday.
The company has started a search for his successor, led by the consulting firm Korn Ferry. Garutti will remain as CEO until his replacement is found and then will stay on as an advisor to help with the transition.
“I’ve been lucky enough to experience boundless joy through this season of my life, and I know it’s time for the company to benefit from its next generation of leaders,” Garutti said in a message posted on the Shake Shack website. “For the better part of the last two decades, Shake Shack has been my life’s work and I’ve never been more optimistic about our team, our leaders and what’s ahead for this company.”
Garutti started with Shake Shack’s founding company Union Square Hospitality Group 24 years ago as general manager for Tabla and Union Square Café and took the reins of Shake Shack after it was expanded beyond its initial hot dog cart in Madison Square Park. He guided the chain’s growth into a popular local “better burger” concept, expanded it into other cities and then to its famous 2015 IPO, one of the most popular initial public offerings in restaurant industry history.
Global system sales at the company have grown from less than $100 million in 2012 to $1.3 billion in 2022, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic. The company is on track to generate $1 billion in revenues this year.
Garutti guided the chain through a pandemic that hammered its core business in central cities and tourist areas and refocused its energies toward more drive-thrus and digital-focused business. The company has more than 500 locations.
He leaves at a time when the company’s stock has recovered from 2022’s inflation-focused weakness. The stock is up 48% so far in 2023.
“It had not dawned on me that we might grow the business beyond its first park location until Randy urged me that we do so with a second Shack, nearly five years later,” Shake Shack Chairman and founder Danny Meyer said in a statement. “Now, nearly 20 years and over 500 Shacks later, Randy has more than earned this richly deserved opportunity to think about his next act.”
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