Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

By Danny Meyer

In October 1985, at age twenty-seven, 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 eleven 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?

In this landmark book, Danny shares 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.

Some of Danny's other insights:

  • Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. These two simple concepts--for and to--express it all.

  • Context, context, context, trumps the outdated location, location, location.

  • Shared ownership develops when guests talk about a restaurant as if it's theirs. That sense of affiliation builds trust and invariably leads to repeat business.

  • Err on the side of generosity: You get more by first giving more.

  • Wherever your center lies, know it, name it, believe in it. When you cede your core values to someone else, it's time to quit.

Full of behind-the-scenes history on the creation of Danny's most famous restaurants and the anecdotes, advice, and lessons he has accumulated on his long and ecstatic journey to the top of the American restaurant scene, Setting the Table is a treasure trove of innovative insights that are applicable to any business or organization.


NEWS & OPINION: Crowdsourced Entrepreneurial Reads

Posted September 14, 2009, 7:17 PM with category of Management & Workplace Culture
A few weeks ago, Fred Wilson from avc. com kicked up interest in books that entreprenuers should read. Fred, in particular, made the point that "there is way more insight to be gained from stories than from business books. Read more

NEWS & OPINION: Testing and Tasting The Theory

Posted September 18, 2007, 1:59 AM with category of Management & Workplace Culture
Jack and I are in NYC this week on our annual fall trip. We dined at Union Square Cafe this evening. Owner Danny Meyer wrote Setting The Table last year and the two of us decided we need to check if the theory was put into practice. Read more

NEWS & OPINION: Erika Andersen and Danny Meyer Live

Posted March 7, 2007, 8:36 PM with category of Management & Workplace Culture
Forbes. com has video of our friend Erika Andersen (Growing Great Employees) and her ten year client Danny Meyer (Setting The Table). Read more

NEWS & OPINION: NYT Book Review on Setting The Table

Posted January 15, 2007, 8:36 PM with category of Management & Workplace Culture
I picked the Sunday New York Times yesterday and saw Setting The Table (written by Danny Meyer) was reviewed by Sara Dickerman. Her review shows she likes the book, but Dickerman thinks Meyer gets a little cutesy: But Meyer is not giving advice to would-be restauranteurs: his book aims for a broader business audience. Whether his model of "hospitalitocracy" can expand beyond the service industry is hard to say, but Meyer certainly tries hard. Read more

NEWS & OPINION: Todd's Best of Business Books 2006

Posted December 13, 2006, 8:08 PM with category of Management & Workplace Culture
I started with a list of 22 books that I thought deserved year-end honors. The narrowing of the list was the hard part. I quickly marked the ones I knew should be on my list and looked to see if they had something in common. Read more


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ISBN: 9780060742768

About the Paperback

Publisher Harper Paperbacks
Publish date 01/29/2008
Pages 320
ISBN-13 9780060742768
ISBN-10 0060742763
Language English

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