What may very well be the greatest of all American burger chains is coming to Denver. Well, not Denver, exactly, but close enough. And, no, it's not In-N-Out, although that, too, will come to Denver at some point in our lifetime. But not yet. Instead, we're getting a Steak 'n Shake, which is the next best thing -- and according to some burgermaniacs, the best thing since, well, the burger was invented.
In the event that you're not familiar with Steak 'n Shake (there can't be many of you), it's an old-fashioned burger barn that was founded by Gus Belt in 1934 in the abnormally named Normal, Illinois, and its slogan -- "Famous for Steakburgers" -- refers to its signature griddled and smashed steakburgers, so named because they're made from a blend of sirloin, ground round and T-bones. And then are the ethereal, hand-dipped, unrivaled milk shakes.
Film critic and Midwesterner Roger Ebert, who lost his ability to eat or drink after cancer took his jaw several years ago, writes an online journal for the Chicago Sun Times, and in 2009, he devoted one of his columns to Steak 'n Shake:
If I were on Death Row, my last meal would be from Steak 'n Shake. If I were to take President Obama and his family to dinner and the choice were up to me, it would be Steak 'n Shake--and they would be delighted. If the Pope were to ask where he could get a good plate of spaghetti in America, I would reply, "Your Holiness, have you tried the Chili Mac or the Chili 3-Ways?"
A downstate Illinois boy loves the Steak 'n Shake as a Puerto Rican loves rice and beans, an Egyptian loves falafel, a Brit loves banger and mash, an Indian loves tikki ki chaat, a Swede loves herring, a Finn loves reindeer jerky, and a Canadian loves bran muffins. These matters do not involve taste. They involve a deep-seated conviction that a food is absolutely right, and always has been, and always will be. These convictions are fixed at an early age. I do not expect to convert you.
Ebert wrote that love letter around the same time that the subsidiary company that owns Steak 'n shake, Biglari Holdings, announced that it would open 1,500 new franchise locations throughout the country in coming years, including outposts in Las Vegas; Richmond, Virginia; Rome, Georgia; and Denver -- specifically, Centennial, just off C-470 at East County Line Road and South Quebec Street. Centennial, of course, is also the landing site for the state's first IKEA.
Plans are underway to start construction on the 3,200-square-foot space in April. In addition, a Steak 'n Shake will also open in Colorado Springs.