Cool Friends: Shyan Zakeri of Shy’s Burgers & Frys

June 3, 2022

Meet Shyan, co-founder of Shy’s Burgers & Frys – a pop-up burger joint that caters to New York’s coolest. We actually haven’t been able to try Shy’s because every time we show up to an event…they’re sold OUT! We caught up with Shy to hear how he started this fun burger shop!

How did you start your burger pop-up biz, Shy's Burgers & Frys?

This all started as a bit of a joke really. Over the years I've lived in New York I never really fell in love with a burger here. Unlike Los Angeles, it's just not a burger town. Blame it on the lack of car culture, the price of real estate, or immigration history, even though the city has its fair share of legacy and new school burger spots. But what dominated the landscape wasn't anything like the quick, greasy and cheap burgers found at In-N-Out, Apple Pan, or countless Mexican-Greek-Fast Food diners across Los Angeles. Pub burgers that highlighted big beef dressed simple, and over-engineered restaurant burgers popularized first by Jean Georges and then Minetta Tavern and The Spotted Pig held this city's attention. Not for me. So I did what I could and started making burgers for some of my friends in my tiny windowless East Village apartment. Over those college years: I read, I watched, I ate.

Last year after the holidays, I took a roadtrip with my co-founder Alex back to New York. We got to talking. We had some ideas. After a little recipe testing, we went to Instagram and published a small, tight menu for 90 of our closest friends. We didn't think much of it. On a quiet Saturday in April, with the blessings of his roommates, we started making hamburgers in the kitchen and lowering them down to the homies in a bucket. Simple shit, but it was electric. After the second week, we knew he had something. Forever grateful to the friends who humored us during those first few weeks.

What’s your favorite part about the New York creative community?

To put it bluntly, I've been out on New York lately. It goes without saying that the city has changed significantly in the past year. My resolve is strengthened by my friends. Here are a few doing cool shit.

Big ups to the kindest and steeziest vintage dealers in New York: Bijan Shahvali at Intramural, Kevin Fallon at Fantasy Explosion, and Frank Conrad of Leisure Center. Aaaron and the team at Foster's Sundry have been invaluable partners and are the only place I would consider buying our beef from. Sadie and Anthony of Ha's Dac Biet. I don't think Shy's Burgers would be where it is now without Claire and Gutes of the Drunken Canal. Lucas Creighton, who put up with so much grease in the early days of burgers, is my favorite photographer. Love that guy to death. I will read every Ezra Marcus piece from now until the end of time. Louis Hanson of Entrance Gallery and the New Day Auto Club is one of the nicest people in the city. My favorite artist? Ezra Miller. He shares an office with a legendary group of lads, including Brian Piñero who this past year released one of my favorite fragrances with UFO Parfums. More of that. Last of all, all my friends out there doing normal shit and living life. That's real aspirational living.

What’s inspiring you right now?

I'm lucky to live in a wonderful townhouse in Bed-Stuy with some incredible people. My housemate Iliana Penichet-Ramirez just co-founded a new dance and performance space in Williamsburg called Pageant, hosting affordable classes and some pretty incredible events. Anna Pollack is an incredible photographer and director, and Aimee Grumbach is a spectacular dancer in her n own right, and now a newly minted educator. I'm constantly challenged by roommate Sammy's extraordinary mind. I'm going to miss her constant presence. Lastly, big shouts to Ben Elias. A talented filmmaker and all around legend. All around killer people to share walls with. 

Follow along:
@shysburgers on Instagram

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