Sunday, October 5, 2008

Danny Meyer - At HD 2008

Danny Meyer - Authentic

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business.

(This book is in the school library)

At HD – Hospitality Design 2008 – I heard Danny Meyer speak. At the age 27, Danny Meyer, with a good idea and scant experience, opened what would become one of New York City's most revered restaurants--Union Square Cafe. Little more than twenty years later, Danny is the CEO of one of the world's most dynamic restaurant organizations, which includes 11 unique dining establishments, each at the top of its game. How has he done it? How has he consistently beaten the odds and set the competitive bar in one of the toughest trades around?

At the conference, Danny shared the lessons he's learned while developing the winning recipe for doing the business he calls "enlightened hospitality." This innovative philosophy emphasizes putting the power of hospitality to work in a new and counterintuitive way: The first and most important application of hospitality is to the people who work for you, and then, in descending order of priority, to the guests, the community, the suppliers, and the investors. This way of prioritizing stands the more traditional business models on their heads, but Danny considers it the foundation of every success that he and his restaurants have achieved.

He calls his restaurant casual elegance vs. flash and sizzle. He moves his priorities away from the theatrical to more the relatable. He wanted to build something that endures as apposed to a 2-5 year time from of most restaurants. He wanted to build for 15 to 20 years. Union Square Café proves his point as the restaurant as an institution.

He offers a sense of comfort that equals a dialogue between the organization and its customers. His goal was to upgrade what a tavern (café, bar and grill) could be! It is a place where people come together. It is a place where people dine together.

One “wickedly smart” idea was to plan for lots of corner tables. People like corner table to watch the action.

He offers authenticity. He relies on his own artistic vision. He sees this as authentic modern with real roots and offers a sense of grandeur.

To him, in a restaurant, noise is like salt to a chef. Too much is wrong, but too little is wrong, too. It has to be just right!

Hospitality in a restaurant is 51% about the food, but 49% is about how the experience make you feel.

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