Monday, July 18, 2011

"I'll Have The Michelle Obama Special"

The new & easy way to order at DC's Shake Shack; and staffers dish on the First Lady's visit...
It's not officially listed on the menu at the Shake Shack burger joint on Dupont Circle, but if you ask for "The Michelle Obama Special," counter staff will place an order for a ShackBurger, French fries, chocolate shake, and Diet Coke without asking for further details. That's what the First Lady ordered when she visited last Monday, which caused global headlines, included a debate about her penchant for seemingly unhealthy food, in light of the Let's Move! campaign. (Above: Mrs. Obama's order)

"We actually never discuss any of our guests at Shake Shack," Theresa Mullen, the spokesman for the company, told Obama Foodorama when queried about Mrs. Obama's visit.

Employees didn't get that mandate from management, counter staffers told ObFo. There was no memo, and no guidance given by managers. Staffers freely speak about their famous guest, whom many were expecting to drop by, thanks to the restaurant's popularity with White House staff.

"A bunch of White House aides were at our grand opening," one Shack staffer noted. The much-anticipated party for the opening of the local outlet of New York restaurateur Danny Meyer's gourmet burger chain was in May.

"It was just a matter of time for the First Lady to show up," another staffer said.

"We're always busy, but even more now," yet another staffer said, crediting Mrs. Obama. "We always have a line, but it's even longer now." The lines snake up the block.

"We’re honored so many guests choose Shake Shack on those occasions they crave a really good burger, shake or fries," Mullen, the Shack PR maven, said, and parroted Mrs. Obama.

"As with anything, it’s all about maintaining a balanced lifestyle," Mullen said. ObFo hadn't asked Mullen about lifestyle balance or calorie counts, but apparently she was worried about the many headlines that deemed Mrs. Obama's Shack order unhealthy.

"The message has always been about balance," Mrs. Obama told reporters about her Let's Move! campaign in February, as she was questioned about the Presidential Super Bowl party menu, which included kielbasa, bratwurst, cheeseburgers and deep dish pizza among the traditional sports fan delights.

"I like to talk about my obsession with French fries because I don't want people to think that "Let's Move" is about complete, utter deprivation," Mrs. Obama added.

Mrs. Obama's pronouncement during her recent visit to Africa that French fries are her favorite food also caused global headlines, but much less furor than her Shake Shack run.

Mission accomplished: Let's Move! as a national conversation...
The Shake Shack headlines were mostly an attempt to create some kind of Washington scandal, and interesting primarily because it was started by Washington Post, which deems itself a neutral news outlet but was the first to post the calories for Mrs. Obama's Shack lunch--even going so far as to post a correction when their first estimation proved too low. The good news is that Mrs. Obama has achieved her goal of making the Let's Move! campaign a national conversation, if her visit to Shake Shack is any kind of barometer. Because why else would major commercial media entities--from both sides of the political aisle--be convinced that noting the calorie count for Mrs. Obama's meal in headlines will have resonance with the public? Media entities now seem certain that just a year and a half after Mrs. Obama launched Let's Move!, Americans are so well versed in nutrition information that they understand the implications of 1,700 calories for a single meal. (Above: A screenshot from an ABC segment about Mrs. Obama's "1,700 calorie splurge")

News outlets simply did not note any First Lady's caloric consumption before Mrs. Obama moved into the White House.

There's more good news about Mrs. Obama's dining excursions: Like President Obama, she gives restaurants a boost in business. Just ask the folks at DC's Eatonville, where Mrs. Obama also dined last week: They're busier than ever. And it's possible to order "The Michelle Obama Special" at Eatonville, too. You'll be served the Pecan-crusted Trout entree, which is accompanied by Citrus Spinach with Riesling Raisins, Spicy Pilaf and Mustard Velouté. French fries have to be ordered on the side, however....

Info: Shake Shack is at 1216 18th Street N, Washington, DC, 20036. Phone: (202) 683-9922. Eatonville is at 2121 14th Street NW, Washington, DC, 2009. Phone: 202-332-ZORA (9672).