THE POWER LIST 2018: DANNY MEYER
Since opening Union Square Cafe in 1985, Danny Meyer and his team have redefined hospitality, combining warmth and professionalism in restaurants ranging from fine dining at Gramercy Tavern to better-burger chain Shake Shack, as well as jazz clubs, cocktail bars, museum cafes and barbecue restaurants. His book, “Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business,” is required reading for operators across the country.
Known for: As CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group LLC, Meyer has been a leader on promoting positive work cultures in the restaurant industry.
In order to increase salaries of back-of-the-house workers, Meyer vowed to eliminate tipping at all of his restaurants in 2015, sending shockwaves across the industry. It’s still a work in progress as he implements his “Hospitality Included” system at his operations one restaurant at a time. USHG also offers strong benefits like parental leave, 401(k) matches and insurance.
Power move: Meyer continues to expand his reach. He invests in emerging concepts like Tender Greens, Joe Coffee and Salt & Straw, and last year launched Roman-style concepts in New York — Vini e Fritti, an aperitivi bar; Martina, a pizzeria; and Marchio, a coffee bar. He remains outspoken on the elimination of tipping, and most recently promoted it on 60 Minutes.
What’s next: Meyer is planning the opening of his first full-service restaurant outside of New York with a Union Square Cafe slated to debut at the Capitol Crossing mixed-use development project in Washington, D.C., where USHG will also curate other food-and-drink outlets.