Still Growing Strong: Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer, founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, with more than 11 restaurants in NYC.

What was the main focus of the Union Square Hospitality Group when NYER profiled you seven years ago?

In 2006, USHG was 1,000 employees strong and was concentrating on operating one-of-a-kind, primarily fine-dining restaurants. In addition, we had already opened Blue Smoke and Shake Shack—but with no plans or dreams to expand those, at the time. We had also just launched a fine-dining, full-service catering business, and I was on the cusp of publishing Setting the Table, which, for the first time, would define for our teams and the public those things that mattered most to us. Before Setting the Table, our work was largely intuitive; afterward, more of it became intentional.

Where are you now?

Seven years later, and now 2,400 amazing employees strong, we remain at our core a fine-dining restaurant group. Since 2006, we’ve created two more such restaurants—Maialino and North End Grill, each of which earned “Top Newcomer Status” in the Zagat Survey.

During the same period, we learned how to flex our wings and expand the businesses that have been ready to grow, namely Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, and Union Square Events.

Where are you going?

In addition to the growth of the businesses I mentioned, we will conceive and open one new unique fine-dining restaurant every three to four years. We’re excited about our strategic partnership with Related Companies at Union Square Events, which has already borne fruit: We’ve just partnered with Equinox to launch Creative Juice, featuring chef-driven, organic, cold-pressed juices. Over the next 5 to 10 years, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to leverage an extraordinary team of talented professionals who want to create and build hospitality businesses that become essential parts of their communities.