March 28, 2016

Danny Meyer, CEO of USHG, Offers Advice to CIA Students

Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, offers advice to CIA students on April 11, 2016 at The Culinary Institute of America.

Danny Meyer to Speak to CIA Students

Planning to own your own restaurant? Become a food entrepreneur? Get advice from Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group.

Danny Meyer at the CIA

The CIA is excited to welcome Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group staff members to our New York campus on April 11. The day’s events will include presentations and panel discussions for CIA students, staff, and alumni.

Who is Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group?

In 1985, Danny Meyer opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe. Today, his company (Union Square Hospitality Group) has grown to include 13 restaurants and bars in New York City, a massive catering business, food counters at major arenas like Citifield and Nationals Stadium, and an organizational consulting business called Hospitality Quotient.

Danny and Union Square Hospitality Group are widely recognized as leaders in the American restaurant industry. Over the past 30 years, the James Beard Foundation has bestowed Union Square Hospitality Group with 26 James Beard Awards for excellent service and hospitality at its beloved restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, and Maialino. Ever evolving and innovating, Union Square Hospitality Group brought its fine-dining ethos to the fast-casual landscape in 2004 when it launched Shake Shack, the widely popular burger and shakes restaurant chain that has since gone public and opened more than 80 locations around the world. Most recently, Union Square Hospitality Group is leading the restaurant industry in America by improving workplace culture in its push to eliminate tipping and create more opportunities for professional and financial growth for restaurant workers.

Pioneer in Hospitality

Throughout his 30-year career as a restaurant entrepreneur, Danny Meyer has set his own standards for service and hospitality.  He has championed flawless food with the perfect atmosphere whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or grabbing a burger and fries.  As he told Inc magazine’s Liz Welch in 2015:

“My job is to give and get pleasure from delivering this great food to you. That shouldn’t apply only to the rarefied experience of fine dining and the small population that can afford that.” – Danny Meyer

“Hospitality Included”

“Hospitality is a team sport”—it starts with the way you treat your employees and trickles down throughout your organization. In keeping with those principles, his company stepped into the “no tipping” conversation with the introduction of “Hospitality Included” in Fall 2015. The program is rooted in the desire to ensure that everyone on the restaurant staff—including not just servers, but also cooks, reservationists, dishwashers, etc.—receive an equitable share in the satisfaction of patrons.

“I hate those Saturday nights where the whole dining room is high-fiving because they just set a record, and they’re counting their shekels, and the kitchen just says, ‘Well boy, did we sweat tonight.’” – Danny Meyer via Eater

There’s no longer a tip line at select Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants, with the policy rolling out to all locations during 2016. Base menu prices will rise to compensate, allowing restaurant management to direct the proceeds among staff based on merit without overall changing the total cost to diners. More about the policy.

Part 1—The Path to Leadership: From the CIA to Union Square Hospitality Group


Part 2—Enlightened Hospitality: A Q&A with Danny Meyer


Part 3—Hospitality Included: The Future of USHG


Part 4—Building a Career in Beverage: Round Table Discussion


Part 5—From Market to Menu: Chef Demo with Carmen Quagliata ’88, Executive Chef, Union Square Cafe