President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden meet with local workers, including Meredith Upchurch, center, at the Dupont Circle Shake Shack on Friday, May 16, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

The Presidential Politics of Shake Shack

It pays better than minimum wage, but was shut down in 2012 for a health code violation.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden meet with local workers, including Meredith Upchurch, center, at the Dupont Circle Shake Shack on Friday, May 16, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden met with local workers at the Dupont Circle Shake Shack Friday in Washington, D.C.

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden had a mission that was twofold in going to lunch Friday at the Dupont Circle location of Shake Shack in Washington, D.C.

First, in a continued push for infrastructure spending, the POTUS and VPOTUS took four construction workers out to lunch. Those workers are laboring on an almost-completed development project in Washington’s NoMa neighborhood, the area tucked behind and around Union Station. (A New York City-style naming convention, the neighborhood's moniker stands for "north of Massachusetts Avenue") According to the White House, the $9.1 million project will be finished this week, having used $6.9 million in federal aid.

Secondly, Shake Shack is known for paying its workers a good wage, as Obama articulated during his visit. The restaurant has “great burgers and pays its employees more than 10 bucks an hour,” the president said, according to the White House pool report. In March, ThinkProgress wrote extensively on the subject, explaining that beginning workers get paid $9.50 an hour outside of New York City, but employees on average make about $10.70 an hour because of a revenue-sharing program called Shack Bucks.

But with every presidential fast-food excursion, the presidential calorie counters come out, so here we go. During this trip, Obama, per the pool report, ordered a burger and fries. A single hamburger at Shake Shack clocks in at 360 calories, while fries are 470. (That’s an 830-calorie lunch.) Biden went a bit bigger, ordering a cheeseburger (a single cheeseburger is 430 calories), fries (470) and a Black & White shake (760) – that’s a 1,660-calorie lunch. It's also a wee bit healthier than what first lady Michelle Obama ate at the newly opened restaurant in 2011. The children's nutrition advocate ordered a ShackBurger, fries, chocolate shake and a Diet Coke: a 1,700-calorie meal.

This location of Shake Shack also was closed briefly in June 2012 because of a health code violation. The restaurant was operating without water, but reopened the same day.