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Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer
Meyer in 2010
Born (1958-03-14) March 14, 1958
St. Louis, Missouri
Education Trinity College
Occupation Restaurateur
Known for Restaurant founder:
--Union Square Cafe
--Gramercy Tavern
--Eleven Madison Park
--Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard
--Terrace 5
--Cafe 2
--The Modern at the MoMA
--Untitled at The Whitney
--Shake Shack
Spouse(s) Audrey Rayelyn Heffernan

Daniel "Danny" Meyer (born March 14, 1958) is a New York City restaurateur and the Chief Executive Officer of the Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG).


  • Background and early career 1
  • Career 2
  • Events 3
  • Writings 4
  • Community activism 5
  • Ratings and reviews 6
    • Awards 6.1
  • Bibliography 7
  • Book Reviews 8
  • Personal life 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Background and early career

Meyer was born and raised in a reform Jewish family in St. Louis,[1] where he attended John Burroughs School. Meyer attended Camp Nebagmon for boys in Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin as a kid. Meyer worked for his father as a tour guide in Rome during college, and then returned to Rome to study international politics. After graduating from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 1980 with a degree in Political Science,[2] Meyer worked in Chicago as Cook County Field Director for John Anderson's 1980 independent presidential campaign. Meyer later gained his first restaurant experience in 1984 as an assistant manager at Pesca, an Italian seafood restaurant in the Flatiron District of New York City. He then returned to Europe to study cooking as a culinary stagiaire in both Italy and Bordeaux.[3] In 1985, at 27, he began his career as a restaurateur by opening Union Square Cafe.[4]


In 1985, Meyer opened his first restaurant: Union Square Cafe. In order to make it successful, Danny Meyer focused on customer satisfaction.[5]

Meyer’s restaurants and other businesses include: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard, Shake Shack, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA, Maialino, Untitled at the Whitney Museum, Union Square Events, and Hospitality Quotient.[6] Union Square Events, USHG's catering division, operates several concessions at major sports facilities (Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, El Verano Taqueria, and Box Frites) including the Mets Citi Field, Saratoga Race Course, and Nationals Park, Washington D. C..[7]

In late 2011, USHG opened North End Grill and a second location of Blue Smoke, both in Battery Park City.[8] In 2011, the Union Square Hospitality group sold Eleven Madison Park to its chef Daniel Humm and front-of-house director Will Guidara.[9]


USHG also founded and continues to organize the annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in NYC, which takes place in Madison Square Park and features regionally diverse barbecue from visiting pitmasters. The event benefits the Madison Square Park Conservancy.[10]


Meyer co-authored The Union Square Cafe Cookbook (HarperCollins, 1994) with his business partner, Chef Michael Romano. The book earned the IACP Julia Child Award for the best new cookbook by a first-time author, and was followed up with the highly acclaimed Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe (HarperCollins, 2001). Meyer also authored the New York Times bestseller Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), which examines the power of hospitality in restaurants, business, and life. In May 2009, Meyer's restaurants released a cocktail cookbook, Mix Shake Stir (Little, Brown) featuring 140 recipes, along with tips, anecdotes and photography.[11]

Community activism

Meyer has served on the boards of City Harvest.[12] In addition, he served as Co-Chair of the Union Square Partnership for 5 years [13] and as an executive committee member for NYC & Co and the Madison Square Park Conservancy.[14]

Ratings and reviews

Four of USHG’s restaurants have earned three stars from The New York Times and Eleven Madison Park was upgraded to four stars in 2009. Three of the five “Most Popular” restaurants in the 2011 New York Zagat Survey are part of USHG, including Union Square Cafe, which has held the #1 spot nine times.[15] Eleven Madison Park held three Michelin Stars, The Modern earned its second Michelin Star in 2015 and Gramercy Tavern holds one Michelin Star[16] and Eleven Madison Park was designated Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux in 2008 and named one of S. Pellegrino’s “50 Best Restaurants” in 2010 and 2011.[17]


Meyer and USHG have won 26 James Beard Foundation Awards [18]


  • Setting the Table : The Power of Hospitality in Restaurants, Business, and Life
  • The Union Square Café Cookbook
  • Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe
  • Mix Shake Stir

Book Reviews

  • The Union Square Café Cookbook was described in the New York Journal of Books as ". . . expertly adapted for home use and offers many dishes worth trying and adding to your repertoire."[20]

Personal life

In 1988, Meyer married Audrey Rayelyn Heffernan in an interfaith Roman Catholic and Jewish service at Unitarian Church of All Souls in Manhattan.[21]


  1. ^ Kahn, Howie. "Two Wise Men". GQ. I grew up in a reform Jewish family in St. Louis. Our idea of Judaism was no Bar mitzvahs and a Christmas tree that had a skirt at the bottom embroidered with the names of my grandparents 
  2. ^ Fabricant, Florence. "Times Topics - Danny Meyer". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Danny Meyer". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Fabricant, Florence. "Times Topics - Danny Meyer". The New York Times. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Wilsey, Sean (2011-08-04). "A Movable Feast: Danny Meyer on a Roll". The Times Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-07. 
  7. ^ Sutton, Ryan (2009-04-22). "Citi Field’s $48 VIP Meal, Shake Shack Burgers, Beer: Food Buzz". Retrieved 2011-09-07. 
  8. ^ Morabito, Greg (2010-07-29). "BPC Gets Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, Third Meyer Restaurant". Retrieved 2011-09-07. 
  9. ^>
  10. ^ "The Event". Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  11. ^ "Hachette Book Group". Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "At the Chef’s Table: Restaurant Partners". Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Danny Meyer Turns Over Helm of Union Square Partnership". Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "Danny Meyer". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  15. ^ Wilsey, Sean (2011-08-04). "A Movable Feast: Danny Meyer on a Roll". The Times Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-07. 
  16. ^ "Michelin Guide Unleashed". Eater NY. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  17. ^ "The Top 50 Best Restaurants 1-50". The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants. Retrieved 2011-09-21. 
  18. ^ "James Beard Foundation web". Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  19. ^ "Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management Names Danny Meyer as Conti Professor". Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  20. ^ New York Journal of Books
  21. ^ New York Times: "Daniel Meyer Weds Audrey Heffernan" August 28, 1988

External links

  • CBS News Article - Danny Meyer
  • NRA Show Danny Meyer of Union Square Cafe NYC on Enlightened Hospitality
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