Close to 200 people gathered in the cold and wet this morning to score a year's worth of free Steak 'N Shake burgers from the Midwestern import and we were on hand to witness the burger hysteria. And what hysteria it was!

Five Kings College roommates—who heard about the opening through Gothamist!—told us they arrived at 4 p.m. yesterday, lured by the appeal of a year of free food, and ended up the first in line. Others we talked to knew about the chain from other states and were eager for the familiar flavors. "I went to school in Ohio and it's an institution out there. This one is fancier though because it's the 'Signature' one" explained Ben Bromberg, who had been waiting on line since 7 a.m. this morning with his friend Eric Saber. Asked why they were willing to wake up early and stand in the rain to wait, they replied that it was a "New York thing to do" and they would "be able to get free lunches for a year and rub it in our co-workers faces." It seems that the desire for free food outweighed any burger and shake nostalgia from most of the line.

So what to expect at David Letterman's new neighbor? The Steak 'n Shake "Signature" restaurant features a slightly altered menu (sorry, no cheesesteaks here) but Midwesterners will recognize the classic Steakburgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. The bright, red, flashy interior fits in well with its Times Square surroundings though finding a seat will be difficult in the teeny tiny space. Although this grand opening gimmick was a big success, it remains to be seen if this burger newcomer will be successful enough to keep Danny Meyer awake at night. One thing they have that Meyer's Shake Shack does not? Those amazing Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machines. Score one, Steak 'N Shake!