Independently Speaking: Great Shakes

Utah ‘shak’ feeds the needs of hungry tourists and local folks, with an international flavor

Samantha Strong Murphey, Freelance writer

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When Stan Alvey started Stan’s Shake Shak in 1984, it was a literal shack of milkshakes. Today it’s a destination restaurant and expansive c-store on a highway packed with summer traffic. Its new owners, Stan’s son Duke and his wife, Jessica, are carrying on the family business and the family tradition of having a positive effect on the small rural community they call home.

Duke and Jessica purchased the shack from Stan in 1996. In 2001, they merged it with a small gas station and convenience store down the road, also owned by Stan. In 2005, Stan retired, leaving Duke and Jessica to run it all. Today, Stan’s Burger Shak and Foodmart is a bustling business at the junction of Highway 25 and Highway 94 in Hanksville, Utah, not far from popular vacation spots such as Lake Powell, Capitol Reef National Park and Goblin Valley State Park.

Burger Breakdown

The restaurant is closed in December and January and slows down during other cold months, but in the height of summer, the place is crawling with customers. On summer weekends, Stan’s fills about 400 orders. The restaurant can seat up to 98 people in big booths under an open ceiling of pine beams.

Stan’s serves burgers, fries and popular homemade onion rings. It has countless shake flavors, many of them made with fresh fruit.

“We even do watermelon and cantaloupe shakes when they’re in season,” Jessica says. “Our shakes stand about 3 inches above the rim. They’re thick and tall.”

Popular orders include the classic Hanks Burger, with a special house-made sauce, as well as the 100% buffalo meat burger. “The largest free-roaming herd of buffalo in the continental U.S. is just to the South of us,” Jessica says. “The burger tastes just like beef, but people are always curious.”

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