On Thursday we were planning on meeting one of our pals in Gramercy for lunch, so we suggested Shake Shack. Quick as lightning came his response: "You are totally nuts if you think we can get done with Shake Shack in less than 1 1/2 hours :)" That seemed strange to us, so we did a little research, and surprisingly, his estimate seems correct-- average weekday waiting times for a burger in Madison Square Park are approaching one hour-- when you throw in the time it takes to order and receive the food, and then actually eat it, you are looking at a 90 minute experience. Yikes! This being New York, a bunch of people have come up with solutions to the waiting time problem. Take for instance this idea, by David:

Congestion Pricing. Charge different prices based on how long the line is. Each person can judge whether it's in their best interests to jump in line or go find something else. People who are willing to spend more money will go whenever they like. People who wish to spend less money will go at less convenient times, or when it's raining. Although usually mentioned for targeting traffic jams during rush hour, I think it could help inside Madison Square park as well.

That's clever, but not likely to happen any time soon. Here are some simpler ideas we came up with:

1. Homeless people in Madison Square Park should get on line with signs saying "I'll order for you for $10". Five people could just ride the line all afternoon, and people who wanted to pay more for speed could do so. This would also work with unemployed post-college students! Win-win!

2. Internet ticketing: you could order your burger at like 9am, and pick it up at a special "Will Call" window. This would allow Shake Shack to more smoothly predict the demand each day, and they could prepare your burger in advance and keep it warm for you.

3. Line monitoring: you should be able to check the length of the line over the internet-- ShakeWatchers is a good start, but we need a live web-cam trained on the line at all times. Gothamist will pay $200 to the first person to setup a dedicated webcam and hosts in at Gothamist-- any takers?

Okay, that's the best we can do. Let's see you come up with a better idea!

Image from WhatISee.