On January 11, Shake Shack opened its North Brunswick location and designated $1 from every sandwich sold on opening day to support nearby Rutgers Gardens, the 180-acre botanic garden of Rutgers University.
Shake Shack reached out to Rutgers Gardens to partner in the grand opening of its new location in North Brunswick – its 19th New Jersey location but its first drive-thru on the East Coast – and offered the Gardens the opportunity to benefit from its opening day donation.
“Shake Shack’s purpose is to Stand For Something Good®, and a part of that purpose is deep community investment. For each new location we open, we select a local partner in which we commit to donating a portion of our opening day profits to. For the North Brunswick location, we looked for a partner that struck the right balance with our guests and our values; and, ultimately sought out a partner focused on environmental impact,” said a Shake Shack spokesperson.
Among the guests at the ribbon cutting were executive dean of the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) Laura Lawson and director of Rutgers Gardens Lauren Errickson.
“For much of what we do, Rutgers Gardens relies on philanthropic support. Generous donations such as the contribution Shake Shack has pledged through this opening day fundraiser help us to beautify the Gardens and amplify our educational programs,” said Errickson.
A unique part of SEBS and the Rutgers University–New Brunswick campus, Rutgers Gardens includes display gardens, historic plant collections, natural areas like Helyar Woods, and the Student Farm, which donates over half of the fresh produce grown on site. Interns at the Rutgers Gardens Student Farm sustainably produce vegetables for donation to food-insecure Rutgers students and Middlesex County residents, helping to ensure healthy food access for all.
Rutgers Gardens welcomes tens of thousands of public visitors each year who enjoy time spent in green space, shop at the farmers’ market, and engage in educational programs, helping to connect the university to the local community.
In her remarks, Executive Dean Lawson underscored the strong commitment Rutgers has made to the community as the land-grant university of New Jersey, serving residents statewide but with an especially strong presence in the New Brunswick/North Brunswick area. She also spoke of the importance of community partners such as Shake Shack.
“On behalf of Rutgers University, we are so grateful to have you here, just a few miles from campus. You are now part of the larger Rutgers community, and we are honored that Shake Shack has chosen to support Rutgers Gardens through this grand opening. It is clear that we share a commitment to building strong community partnerships and together we certainly Stand for Something Good ®,” said Lawson.
Errickson spoke about the value of charitable donations like the generous opening day fundraiser initiated by Shake Shack.
“With philanthropic support, we are able to provide access to Rutgers Gardens to our community neighbors free of charge. We are a public botanic garden, and what that means is that you are all welcome. Bring your friends, your families, to the Gardens to enjoy the plants, the trails in the woods, and time spent in the fresh air,” said Errickson.
The Shake Shack location property management company, North Brunswick TOD Associates, made a surprise announcement to match the Shake Shack donation to Rutgers Gardens.
“We are very pleased to welcome Shake Shack to MainStreet North Brunswick. We have partnered with Shake Shack to match their opening day donation to Rutgers Gardens, which provides our MainStreet North Brunswick community a local garden to explore with many activities and a farmers’ market in the warmer months,” said Jonathan Frieder, Managing Member, North Brunswick TOD Associates, LLC.
Errickson welcomed the matching donation that brought the total support to Rutgers Gardens from this partnership to $3,280. She is optimistic that the collaboration with Shake Shack can extend beyond this initial fundraiser, including by hosting Shake Shack volunteer days at Rutgers Gardens in the future.
Rutgers Gardens grew from its humble origins as a 35.7-acre plot of land—known as Wolpert Farm—purchased on May 17, 1916 and intended as a functional education space for local farmers to learn about vegetable research and ornamental horticulture, a new industry trend at the turn of the century. It has grown to 180 acres and evolved over time from a research farm to a leading public garden in New Jersey and the region that today provides both educational opportunity and enjoyment for university students and the public.