By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 03, 2021 at 10:01 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

We’ve all made assumptions about large restaurant chains: They care more about profits than people. The quality of their food is low. They don’t engage with the communities in which they operate. But sometimes the values espoused – and enacted – by a large company defy the stereotypes.

This week we’re talking to Milwaukee native, Ari Domnitz about his career in the Milwaukee food scene, from work with venues like Hi-Hat and Hospitality Democracy to taking the leap and owning his own bar and restaurant (Karma). But he also shares insights gleaned from his four-year tenure with Shake Shack, a global chain with over 300 locations.

During our conversation, we discuss the brand’s company culture and values, how they’ve influenced Domnitz’s career choices, and (maybe most intriguingly) how the brand is able to thrive in a city where great burgers and frozen custard have been around for decades.


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Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.