Steak ‘n Shake has been serving hamburger steaks since 1934. The business was founded by Gus Belt in Normal, Ill., When he realized his original idea for a gas station with a restaurant serving hot chicken. and beer was not new. Normal, Illinois had enough of this already, so Gus decided to do something different and, with the help of some of his friends, opened the first Steak n ‘Shake.
His idea was simple. He wanted to serve freshly ground beef patties and he had a very unique way of presenting it to his guests. In a marketing genius for the time, Gus would wait until the restaurant was busy, then push a barrel full of t-bones, sirloin and round steaks right in front of them. He would then grind the steaks in front of his customers and start making his next famous Steakburgers.
Business was booming, and Gus soon realized that his small counter-only restaurant was not enough to meet the hungry demand in central Illinois. He made a smart business decision by buying a small restaurant chain called Goal Post which he converted into Steak ‘n Shake. The demand for his tasty burgers was still so high that he added sidewalk service to every restaurant. The seats were always full and there was always a line outside the door. As demand increased, Steak ‘n Shake also increased. In the late 1930s, Gus sold his first franchise and the restaurant chain began to expand.
Twenty years after opening the first Steak ‘n Shake, Gus passed away and his wife, Edith, was left to take over the growing business. In 1969, she finally let go of the reins and sold the business to a chain of steakhouses known as Longchamps. After running the chain for two years, Longchamps sold most of its shares to Franklin Corporation in 1971.
By 1975, Steak ‘n Shake had grown to 130 locations across the United States. Drive-thru was all the rage, and curbside service was gone. The corporate headquarters moved from Illinois to Indiana, and in 1981 the company was sold to EW Kelley and Associates.
Ed Kelley realized that the original concept of the restaurant was what people wanted, so he quickly brought the chain back to its roots. The menu has been updated and the food has been cooked to order and delivered by waiters with real china and cutlery. Soon the chain began serving food 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2003, Kelley passed away, but he had made his mark by successfully feeding the restaurant chain until it more than doubled its original size.
In April 2010, shareholders approved a proposal to change the name of the company to Biglari Holdings Inc., named after current chairman Sardar Biglari. Later that same year, the company launched a new restaurant prototype that was reminiscent of previous versions, with visible grills and milkshake fountains.
Steak n ‘Shake restaurants are decorated like a 1950s restaurant, with touches of chrome and red. The menu combines quality steaks with other favorites like chili and ice cream milkshakes. The Basic Steakburger is also available in a variety of premium flavors like the Spicy Chipotle Steakburger and the Western BBQ N ‘Bacon Burger. Steak, hot dogs, chicken fingers and other sandwiches complete the menu.
Steak n ‘Shake remains popular among burger fans because of their tasty, generously portioned burgers and quality toppings. The ability to order delicious chocolate, cookie dough, or vanilla milkshake with your burger also helps. The chain continues to grow and currently operates nearly 500 Steak ‘n Shake restaurants in 22 states.