Even if you've never dined at Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern, or any of the nine other distinctive Manhattan eateries owned by Gotham restaurateur Danny Meyer, you'll find plenty to chew on in this appealing memoir-cum-management primer. Loaded with smart, savvy, advice, Setting the Table also provides the inside story of how Meyer opened each of his restaurants, created a flourishing gustatory empire, and continues to attract discriminating diners and top-notch employees. There are no esoteric lessons here; just sensible suggestions about developing leadership skills, putting people first, and imbuing every aspect of business with the grace and generosity ("enlightened hospitality") that has catapulted this charming entrepreneur to the top of the "food chain."
Meyer is more persuasive and interesting, both as a storyteller and as a business adviser, when he sticks to concrete examples from his working life instead of spinning them into catchphrases that might work in a PowerPoint presentation. He has built his business not on food or service alone, but on the value of a colorful story — especially the ones that his clients tell to his future clients: the wallet lost in a cab and tracked down by Tabla’s manager; the personal call from Meyer before a big anniversary dinner; a superb frozen custard on a sunny day in Madison Square Park.
The New York Times
With the same grace and generosity displayed in his dining rooms, Meyer's instructive how-we-did-it account shares lessons learned on his way to becoming CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group. Meyer opened Union Square Cafe in 1985 when he was 27 years old. It hit its stride three years later when he hired chef Michael Romano, and Meyer charts its evolution from a neighborhood to international institution. Initially cautious about expansion, he opened Gramercy Tavern with chef Tom Colicchio three years later, eventually broadening his New York City restaurant empire to 11 establishments including Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, Blue Smoke, Shake Shack and the Modern. Meyer makes a distinction between service ("the technical delivery of a product") and the "Enlightened Hospitality" at the core of his business strategy-both necessary for restaurant success. He notes that hospitality "is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel" and shares tips like hiring "51 percenters," or staff with "skills divided 51-49 between emotional hospitality and technical excellence," and the "Five As" for addressing mistakes: awareness, acknowledge, apologize, act, additional generosity. This honest, modest book will appeal most to foodies and aspiring restaurateurs but also offers insight for entrepreneurs in any industry. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Meyer is known to foodies as the man behind 11 acclaimed restaurants in New York City, including Union Square Caf and Gramercy Tavern. While that would be more than enough professional accomplishment for most people, apparently Meyer has had time enough on his hands to branch out into writing as well. Anyone who has started or maintained a business will have strong ideas about the best way to run things, and Meyer is no exception. While such chapter headings as "The 51 Percent Solution" and "Constant, Gentle Pressure" evoke the all-too-common themes of most leadership books, this book is something more. It is actually the story of Meyer's restaurant empire and how he got to where he is today, overlaid with his own views on management and what has worked for him. A fun and enjoyable read, it provides a good behind-the-scenes view of the restaurant business, though it's more autobiography than business how-to. Recommended for libraries with strong cookery or business collections.-Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"Restaurateur Danny Meyer offers a rich menu of business tips."
“Anyone in the hospitality industry would do well to consult ‘Setting the Table’.”
“Restaurateur Danny Meyer offers a rich menu of business tips.”
“Danny Meyer, restaurateur nonpareil, shares his never-fail recipe for business success.”