Soon to be in sight

steak-n-shake.jpgFriday’s Statesman contained an unobtrusive notice, heralding the arrival of a long-overdue visitor. No, not the Stones, although details were finally announced for the concert, including the $95 ticket price I presaged two weeks ago. Buried in the business section lurked the headline I’d been waiting 14 years to read: Steak n Shake is coming to Austin. My arteries are already celebrating their impending hardening.

Steak n Shake is a chain of 24-hour diners that sprang from my homeown of Normal, Illinois in the mid-30’s. The original location was known for grinding steak into hamburger and churning its milk shakes in full view of the hardy midwestern clientele, although such Jungle-esque displays aren’t exactly up to code in the modern day restaurant. Today, Steak n Shake operates over 430 restaurants, predominantly in the midwest. St. Louis is one of the chain’s most durable markets, proudly supporting more than 40 of the eateries. And before the year is through, Austin will feel the SnS love at Slaughter and I-35.

Austinites can expect “steakburgers” (flat patties, like Sandy’s) and skinny fries, with awesome shakes and the usual assortment of diner offerings. Sit-down meals are served on china plates, which provides an oddly domestic departure from the usual 3am drunken greasefest at Whataburger. Those on the go can get theirs via takhomasak, which gets funnier with slurred speech.

I’m not sure how Steak n Shake will fare in the anti-chain environs of Austin, where Kerbey and Magnolia pretty much own my late night stomach. But Slaughter is probably a good place to start, far enough from Star Seeds to present a compelling 24-hour stop along South I-35 in a chain-friendly part of town. It’s a bit of a haul, but at some point I’ll have to make the trek to relive the glory of a Frisco Melt with an Orange Freeze. It’s an unfortunate but necessary condition of my upbringing that recalling my youth will simultaneously reduce my longevity.

4 Comments so far

  1. RisingSunofNihon (unregistered) on August 7th, 2006 @ 9:20 am

    Being an Illinois native myself, I have to agree with your assessment of Steak ‘n’ Shake! The chain isn’t in my area, so I haven’t had a steakburger in about 10 years. I really miss those things!!

  2. e (unregistered) on August 7th, 2006 @ 10:20 am

    Even if it is a chain, I think any 24-hour restaurant is welcome in Austin. There still just aren’t a whole lot of them.

  3. Annie in Austin (unregistered) on August 8th, 2006 @ 8:22 pm

    We saw Steak’n’Shakes near the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana, but never actually ate there. I heard it was Roger Ebert’s favorite place when he was a student at U of I. Maybe we’ll check it out, and right now, and Orange Freeze sounds perfect.

  4. Shriz-noat (unregistered) on August 10th, 2006 @ 11:14 pm

    My vigil for a White Castle will continue. SnS ain’t bad, though.

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