Restaurateur Danny Meyer, CEO of the New York-based Union Square Hospitality Group, shared his strategies on how to prepare for better times ahead with a packed audience at the 2010 Cheers Beverage Conference, held January 25 and 26 in Miami.
In his keynote speech, titled “Waving the White Tablecloth,” Meyer equated the state of the economy with the weather and noted that operators can hardly do much to change it. What they
can do, he added, is truly focus on guest needs and how to satisfy them.
He defined the distinction, as he sees it, between service and hospitality, and explained how the application of the later makes all the difference. Service, he noted, is something provided to guests that may not always take their needs or preferences into consideration. Hospitality, on the other hand, is the act of providing what is needed or desired at table in a non-intrusive way. He noted the importance of guests being able to share the dining experience with their companions instead of having to deal with potentially over-attentive service staff explaining the wine list or pushing specials.Meyer’s 45-minute speech was warmly received by operators, suppliers and wholesalers alike. Meyer is creator of the restaurant concepts Union Square, Gramercy Tavern, Tabla and Shake Shack, among others. This year marks his 25th year in the restaurant business and the opening of his newest restaurant, Maialino, at New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel.