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Danny Meyer

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Danny Meyer is an American restaurateur and businessman who opened his first restaurant at the age of 27 in 1985. Born and raised in St. Louis, Meyer grew up in a family that enjoyed cooking, excellent cuisine, travel, entertaining, and hospitality. Through this passion and his father’s travel business, Meyer spent a great deal of his childhood traveling the world and experiencing international cuisine. While studying political science at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, Meyer would work for his father a tour guide in Rome. Upon graduation in 1980, he worked in Chicago as Cook County Field Director for John Anderson’s 1980 independent presidential campaign. Meyer first entered the restaurant world in 1984 as an assistant manager at Pesca, an Italian seafood restaurant in New York City. Soon thereafter, he returned to Europe to further his culinary education, studying in both Italy and Bordeaux.

Meyer’s first began his career as a restaurateur by opening Union Square Cafe in 1985, a new concept that aimed to pair imaginative food with wine and hospitality. Over the years Meyer has opened a handful of influential restaurants under his Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) brand, including Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard, Shake Shack, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA, Maialino. His company also launched a catering division in 2005 which runs several concessions at major sports facilities, including Saratoga Race Course, the Mets Citi Field, and Nationals Park in Washington D.C. In 2010, Meyer’s group founded Hospitality Quotient, a learning and consulting business. The following year, UHSG launched a company called Untitled, a farm-to-table coffee shop in the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In addition to his many restaurants, catering company, and commitment to improving hospitality, Meyer has also authored a book, entitled Setting the Table. The business book examines the power of hospitality in restaurants, business, and life, and was a New York Times bestseller.

Companies and Investments

Union Square Hospitality Group (Founder & CEO)

Lessons Learned

Building loyalty among your customers is essential to finding success with your brand.

In order to create a repeat customer, focus on making them feel at home and giving them a sense of warmth and belonging.

By focusing on making people happy and creating a sense of ‘delight’, you are giving them a memorable experience and setting yourself up for success.

Instill a culture of ownership and pride in your employees in order to prevent turnover and help build your brand.

Do something different and that there is a market for. You won’t get very far by copying something that has already been done.

Be passionate and never try to push something on someone else that you yourself don’t believe in.

Inspiring Quotes

Food is our common ground, a universal experience

James Beard

Dannhy Meyer's Quotes

The excellence reflex is a natural reaction to fix something that isn’t right, or to improve something that could be better.

Dannhy Meyer

Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel.

Dannhy Meyer

Your greatest strengths can become your greatest vulnerabilities when you take them too far

Dannhy Meyer

I believe that hospitality is a hug. The best way to get a hug is to give a hug. I’ve never given a hug where I didn’t get one back

Dannhy Meyer

Recognition is the number one reasons guests cite for wanting to return

Dannhy Meyer

Influential Books

Danny Meyer - Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business