“Welcome to Steak `n Shake.”
With those five words, hostess Sissy Morris greeted excited diners to the new burger joint that opened Thursday in Columbia County after months of anticipation.
“We’re all excited,” Morris said. “We’ve been waiting for this.”
By 10 a.m., a large crowd had gathered outside the area’s first Steak `n Shake, located off Jimmy Dyess Parkway near Interstate 20.
Vehicles snaked around the parking lot in the drive-through line as customers waited to place their orders.
Joyce and Willie Grammar, of Hephzibah, were among those standing in line to be seated inside the restaurant.
The couple had arrived at 8:30 a.m., but were told the doors to Steak `n Shake wouldn’t open until 10 a.m. They returned about an hour later.
As the two sat in a booth waiting for their food, Joyce Grammar said she’d never eaten at a Steak `n Shake even though there were several locations in her home state of Missouri.
About a month ago, she heard on the news that the popular fast-food restaurant would be coming to the area.
“Every day, we drove by and I said it’s getting closer and closer,” she said. “I’m going to bring my grandkids.”
The 3,300-square-restaurant, which can accommodate 99 people in the dining area, was quickly filling up by 10:30 a.m.
Paige Rivera and John Forde came for the ribbon-cutting ceremony but stayed for another reason.
“The shakes kept us here,” Rivera said.
Construction on the new Steak `n Shake started in June and took about three months to complete.
Morris is one of 130 employees that has been hired since August.
She was excited to hear about the Steak `n Shake employment opportunity.
“I’d been looking for a job for a year and a half, so I jumped on board,” she said.
The restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. through the end of the year, when the hours change to 24/7.
For the first two to three weeks, it will not offer carry-out service so employees can focus on customers dining in and ordering in the drive-through line
Steak `n Shake is renowned for its steakburgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. The menu also includes breakfast items, chili, burger melts, sandwiches, salads and desserts.
There are nearly 500 Steak `n Shake restaurants in 22 states across the country. The closest locations to Augusta are Atlanta, Macon and Statesboro.