It may not be located in the Sachem Central School District and it may only be a few months old, but owner Ken Hanlin’s Burger Shack is well on its way to becoming a local eating institution. Arriving at noon on a weekday, the line to grab one of the Shack’s many freshly-prepared menu items is long, and the savory smell of grilling burgers wafts from the Route 112 location, enticing diners inside.
Motivated by his love of Food Channel staples such as Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Man vs. Food, Hanlin opened up The Burger Shack on Nov. 8, 2010, featuring a menu filled with juicy burgers made with never-frozen meat shipped in twice daily from local butchers, bakery rolls, dozens of different toppings, hot dogs running the gamut from plain to covered with slow-cooked chili, cheese and onions, thick shakes, and plenty of other options.
As a Social Studies teacher at Eastport-South Manor School District, Hanlin knows the power that a close connection to the local district holds, and has set his sights on Sachem as his No. 1 choice. He’s hosted parties for youth teams, supports all Sachem athletic programs, and has close connections with both the boys and girls basketball programs at Sachem High School East, located just up the road on Granny.
While it is still young, The Burger Shack has all the pieces in place to become a staple eatery in Suffolk. But Hanlin knows that variety is the spice of life, and is already planning on adding new menu items, including shack wraps and soft serve ice cream.
Décor: The standalone building located on Route 112 proudly displays the Burger Shack banner, and upon walking inside, patrons are greeted with sharp, simple décor featuring blue walls, a large serving countertop, and plenty of seating, including both booths and high seats. An enormous menu board adjacent to the register allows for easy reading of the many choices offered at Burger Shack.
Drinks: Pour up a fountain soda (sm. $1.59, lg. $2.49), grab a bottled water or soda ($1.75), or go for the true classic Burger Shack experience and order a vanilla, chocolate or strawberry shake (12 oz. $2.99, 16 oz. $3.49, 24 oz. $3.99).
Entrees: Meat-eaters need only apply for The Burger Shack (although the menu does feature a chopped salad for $6.99 and a Veggie Burger for $4.99) as burgers, hot dogs and wings are the ground, walls and roof of this particular institution. The basic canvas for a Burger Shack burger is hand trimmed beef on a bakery-fresh roll served with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and ketchup. A 4 oz. version of that will run you $3.39 and an 8 oz. is $5.39. Cheese is 50 cents extra. From there, diners have the choice to attack one of the “Top Ten” burgers; beef masterpieces bedecked in fantastic toppings, like The Wildcat (4 oz. $3.99, 8 oz. $5.99) featuring aged Vermont cheddar and crispy bacon, the Greek Burger (4 oz. $3.99, 8 oz. $5.99) with feta cheese, black olives and yogurt sauce, or ratchet up the strange and go for the Juicy Lucy ($5.99), an “inside-out” burger with cheddar and bacon inside two beef patties.
Hot dogs also serve as a cornerstone at The Burger Shack, and the standard “Piggy” is where it starts, with a grilled dog on a toasted bun ($2.49). From there though, things get interesting, like the savory Georgia Brown, with Vidalia onions and cheese ($3.49) or the aptly-named ICU, with bacon and cheese on a juicy dog ($3.49).
Diners looking for something a little less intense can order up a Turkey Burger ($4.99) served with horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion, or Grilled Chicken ($4.99) with your choice of toppings.
Shack Wings are 50 cents each or can be ordered as a 10 piece value meal served with a side and a 20 oz. drink ($7.49), and come in mild, hot or holy shack! varieties.
The Burger Shack also has a Wee Folk menu for younger patrons, and each item is served with a side, drink and toy.
Service: The ultra-wide order counter always has somebody ready to take your order. Sit down at one of the many tables and have it brought to you or stay standing and order for take-out. Employees are friendly and eager to get the customer their food in good time.
Signature Dish: True to his love of Man vs. Food, Hanlin has created the diabolical 48 oz. Burger Challenge, a timed eating trial designed to test only the hardiest of stomachs. There’s an enormous amount of food involved, but if you manage to pack it all down, it’s free. And you get a T-Shirt. And your picture on the Wall of Fame. Hanlin admits he hasn’t personally attempted his own challenge, but so far 17 have tried… and only two have succeeded. Good luck!
Address: 3672 Route 112, Coram, NY