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Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

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30 review for Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ev

    The state of mind at which I finish this book is awash in two dichotomous realities: utter relief, in what has been a persistent journey to finish something so tepid and platitudinous in delivery; and a misplaced sense of pompous accomplishment in doing so. Thus defines the broad crux of my review. My main aim was to glean some unique insight into management and professional success. I think the restaurant place is an astute metaphor for all business; stress, pressure and human relationships defi The state of mind at which I finish this book is awash in two dichotomous realities: utter relief, in what has been a persistent journey to finish something so tepid and platitudinous in delivery; and a misplaced sense of pompous accomplishment in doing so. Thus defines the broad crux of my review. My main aim was to glean some unique insight into management and professional success. I think the restaurant place is an astute metaphor for all business; stress, pressure and human relationships define them. Meyer also published this book years ago, at which time some of his insights would have been less mainstream or common-sensical, with the right amount of experience. But overall, I felt his book was filled with a variety of very political "glittering generalizations" - statements that everyone can agree with, and make him look good. His attempts to make the book more colorful or personal made the first half of the book almost comical. It was not altogether sensual; he seemed to list off his gastronomical experiences, or lay out personal stories in almost a rosy-colored, Hollywood-fairytale kind of way, rather than emphasize the grit and the grime. Maybe I want to have my cake and eat it too, but I felt he overcompensated for this watered-down, neatly packaged storytelling by extending the personal narrative pages beyond what it should have lasted. I did not feel that Meyer assessed much of substance until the second half of the book, or more specifically page 139, when he actually put a number in print: "The 51 Percent Solution". That's when he began to apply his vast experience to something useful and formulaic, to be passed on to the eager reading audience. Overall, this book was a useful reminder, not a novel discovery. It made me hungry for French quiche and schnapps, even if I were imagining Meyer's incredibly white teeth across the table from me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    not poorly written at all, and in fact pretty engaging. i just cant stand danny meyer. basically, if you have a cool 500k of daddy's $$$ and know some shady real estate agents in nyc, you can own a restaurant too!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

    I don't think I will ever find a business book that is as great as "Good to Great" but this book is definitely up there in my top two or three. This is an easy to read, and if you love food, gripping book about how to open, develop, grow, evolve, design, run and have fun in a restaurant. Bu it goes way beyond restaurants. In his introduction Danny says, “In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, I don't think I will ever find a business book that is as great as "Good to Great" but this book is definitely up there in my top two or three. This is an easy to read, and if you love food, gripping book about how to open, develop, grow, evolve, design, run and have fun in a restaurant. Bu it goes way beyond restaurants. In his introduction Danny says, “In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple and it’s that hard.” The rest of the book is all about how he does/did that. There are many lessons in this book that are 100% applicable to libraries. It is full of gems, those things that you know that you know but you can’t quite nail them down. You can tell that he has spent a lot of time (years) thinking about his philosophies and methods and because of this he has been able to put them into the book in an understandable and interesting way. By the end of this book I not only wanted to (and will) eat at every one of his restaurants, but you want to be his friend. Here is a man who loves life, people, and food. His heart is in the right place and his actions speak as loud, if not louder than his words. Shira and I actually ate at his first restaurant, The Union Square Café, a few years ago on a visit to New York. Shira still talks about the melt in your mouth Ahi Tuna and Wasabi mashed potatoes. I still remember being amazed that we walked in without a reservation and were seated at a wonderful table. It has remained one of our favorite experiences in New York and now I know why!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    I am a huge fan of Danny Meyer and I like most of the book, but then began to get very bored very quickly. I am not sure I even finished it. It does give you good insight into his hospitality philosophy which I admire.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Normalene

    Danny Meyer’s New York restaurants survived through 9/11, the downturn of 2008 and not only survived but thrived. How he does it is something every person who deals with customer service should read. He talks about training, hiring the best fit, not necessarily the best qualified, how to maintain your vision when the whole world is telling you you’re wrong and what is important to him in maintaining the high quality he is known for. It takes a while to get into the meat of the book, but once you Danny Meyer’s New York restaurants survived through 9/11, the downturn of 2008 and not only survived but thrived. How he does it is something every person who deals with customer service should read. He talks about training, hiring the best fit, not necessarily the best qualified, how to maintain your vision when the whole world is telling you you’re wrong and what is important to him in maintaining the high quality he is known for. It takes a while to get into the meat of the book, but once you do you’ll want your own copy so you can make margin notes and put sticky notes everywhere you find a gem. He calls what he does “enlightened hospitality” but it is actually awesome customer-focused quality service which he implements in a way that might not be what you think would work, but it does. Even the blurb at the front gives a few hints about the wisdom you’ll find inside: “Hospitality is when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. These two concepts – for and to – express it all.” “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.” One of my favorite quotes from inside the book is: “Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue – we decide how we want to do things and set our own standards of service. Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue… It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.” I loved this book. For all human resource managers and customer service representatives this should be a must read for you.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fud

    Although I got tired and a bit bored by the finish I gained a respect and admiration for the expertise and dedication of Danny Meyer. It bodes well for the success of Shake Shack.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura Vana

    One of the best business books I've read so far. Danny Meyer, a great restaurateur with a huge legacy of high-class restaurants shares his business and leadership mindset from a hospitality point of view. I think the same mindset applies to any kind of business. I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in becoming a better leader and building great teams, not only to the ones in the hospitality industry.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mikedariano

    Unexpected to enjoy this as much as I did. Just the part on how to work with customers (the 5 A's) made the book worthwhile. Overall a great per-page book and as a non-New Yorker I probably underappreciate Meyer's work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    3.5 stars I am not that interested in food or restaurants so was not sure I would like this book. I did end up enjoying the book as Meyer uses his experience in the restaurant business to bring to life his views on hospitality in any organization. Parts of the book were gems. These included: • Innate emotional skills for hospitality is as important- if not more important- than technical skills in hiring employees • A good strategy is to “always on the improve” (p. 190) • Nine things hiring manager s 3.5 stars I am not that interested in food or restaurants so was not sure I would like this book. I did end up enjoying the book as Meyer uses his experience in the restaurant business to bring to life his views on hospitality in any organization. Parts of the book were gems. These included: • Innate emotional skills for hospitality is as important- if not more important- than technical skills in hiring employees • A good strategy is to “always on the improve” (p. 190) • Nine things hiring manager should look for. I particularly liked the inclusion of infectious attitude and charitable assumptions about others. • A quote from Stanley Marcus noting that “The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hardik Seth

    I took this book up to read something about the restaurant business. A good insight into the industry, specific to the US or rather NYC or more specifically Manhattan; with some business gyaan here and there. I am wondering if there's a similar story/book for the Indian context. One should read this book and make a list of restaurants to visit and the dishes to try on their next visit to NYC, the gastronomic capital of the world. In one of the earlier chapters, the author also accounts his visit I took this book up to read something about the restaurant business. A good insight into the industry, specific to the US or rather NYC or more specifically Manhattan; with some business gyaan here and there. I am wondering if there's a similar story/book for the Indian context. One should read this book and make a list of restaurants to visit and the dishes to try on their next visit to NYC, the gastronomic capital of the world. In one of the earlier chapters, the author also accounts his visit to countless hidden restaurants and brasseries in Europe in the 1980s; which I might try someday. A good read for someone who is intrigued by the restaurant business (this is a 20,000 ft view) and the power of hospitality (more anecdotal).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Toot Toot!! That's the sound of Danny Meyer tooting his own horn for 300 pages. Meyer clearly knows what he's doing and has done an impressive job creating his restaurant empire, but I had a hard time connecting with his "lows" and learning lessons of how he overcame them. The best lesson of the book is the importance of investing in the community you serve; I had no idea the impact he had on Madison Sq. Park and Union Square.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Bunk

    His appeal for differentiation between service and hospitality should be embraced by anyone in a service industry. Reading this made me want to buy a ticket to NYC and eat at all of his restaurants immediately. The insights in the second half of the book about running his current empire made a greater lasting impression than the beginning which mostly focused on the history of how he built it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bryanna Tebbetts

    Super insightful for anyone in the hospitality industry!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jim Beatty

    Strangest book I've ever read the first and last third are horrible. The restaurant parts. The middle 3rd on the other hand is awesome, with McGregor and Covey like wisdom. Baffling.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Corporate glossy version of the restaurant trade This is pretty light on any of the blood and guts behind the scenes of the restaurant business but does have its points in terms of the psychology of customer interaction and the selection of employees for your business. Meyer's 51 percent rule of hiring people who bring a greater share of emotional skills vs a lower share of technical skills (which can in most cases be taught and learned) is something of wider use beyond the food business. For a g Corporate glossy version of the restaurant trade This is pretty light on any of the blood and guts behind the scenes of the restaurant business but does have its points in terms of the psychology of customer interaction and the selection of employees for your business. Meyer's 51 percent rule of hiring people who bring a greater share of emotional skills vs a lower share of technical skills (which can in most cases be taught and learned) is something of wider use beyond the food business. For a grittier, albeit fictionalized, view of the Union Square Café group see Stephanie Danler's Sweetbitter.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    A friend of mine turned me on to this wonderful business book by James Beard award-winning Restaurateur Danny Meyer (of Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, Shake Shack, The Modern, and Hudson Yards Catering fame). My friend had mentioned to me that this was a book that his boss (an accomplished businessman and investor who I greatly admire) couldn't stop talking about. It wasn't far into this book that I too could see the reason behind the enthusiasm of my A friend of mine turned me on to this wonderful business book by James Beard award-winning Restaurateur Danny Meyer (of Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, Shake Shack, The Modern, and Hudson Yards Catering fame). My friend had mentioned to me that this was a book that his boss (an accomplished businessman and investor who I greatly admire) couldn't stop talking about. It wasn't far into this book that I too could see the reason behind the enthusiasm of my friend's boss. This is not a book for only foodies, restaurant owners, and food writers. It is a book for all people that are serious about business, leadership, and management. Danny Meyer is a lucid thinker, whose business philosophies (of "enlightened hospitality") are proven, distilled, powerful, and timeless. Frankly, reading this book has heightened my antenna to businesses that get customer service right, and unfortunately to the large majority that get it painfully wrong. Whether it is teaching his people to be agents not gatekeepers, developing a new restaurant's real estate assets based on the concept of “context, context, context” instead of “location, location, location,” making customers feel like the have a shared ownership, by hiring "51 percenters", collecting and connecting dots, expanding his business empire in a concerted way that doesn't overextend the business’s resources- Danny Meyer demonstrates his prowess as not only a Restaurateur, but also an entrepreneur, writer, leader, manager, and visionary. The Kindle addition of this book does suffer from sloppy editing, which is ironic given the meticulous nature of Meyer when it comes to his restaurant empire. For example, the temperature feels like "twenty five degress", service is "ser vice"; Meyer was "champing" not chomping at the bit, etc. These editorial oversights have the taste of a lamb chop cooked dry and served cold in an otherwise brilliant restaurant. Despite these minor editorial shortcomings, Meyer in "Setting the Table" has written a lasting business book for not just food people. This is an important and well-written book that outlines an enlightened, customer-centric, at times counter-intuitive, but consistently effective approach to not only business, but also life.

  17. 4 out of 5

    James Wright

    "In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard." There is no question that Mr. Meyer is on to something. Although some of his more high-end concepts have collapsed under the heft of their lofty aspirations, Meyer has grown his single restaurant into a multi-million dollar empire. At the center of it all is the notion that how "In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard." There is no question that Mr. Meyer is on to something. Although some of his more high-end concepts have collapsed under the heft of their lofty aspirations, Meyer has grown his single restaurant into a multi-million dollar empire. At the center of it all is the notion that how you make people feel is more important than anything else, even the food. Sure the food has to be good, but exceptional service can erase even a major menu-malfunction. It is difficult to be truly impartial here because I believed Meyer's success to be closely tied to his obsession with hospitality from the first time I was introduced to his philosophy. Everything he said seemed so simple, so obvious and yet we see that, like many such things, it is far more difficult to actually do it. Meyer shares many extraordinary anecdotes that demonstrate how his approach has contributed to success which provide a pleasant narrative backdrop to the practical details. Actually, there is really only 1 principal: hire the right people. And it's corollary, hiring the right people is really hard. He lays out some helpful guidelines for identifying who NOT to hire but the key becomes creating a place people want to work so that you can attract and keep the best talent. It is the kind of book that I plan to re-read often in order to digest the multitude of bite-sized insights sprinkled throughout. A must read for any aspiring restaurateur.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stacie

    Anythinkers are reading this book to learn a new perspective on hospitality, and there is much here that is applicable across many industries. I found the behind-the-scenes anecdotes about building a restaurant almost as thrilling as the insights into hospitality, management, and business. The philosophies Danny Meyer presents are timeless, and many are at the core of what we do at our libraries - make people feel comfortable, feel like they're home. Much of what he shares in this book will stic Anythinkers are reading this book to learn a new perspective on hospitality, and there is much here that is applicable across many industries. I found the behind-the-scenes anecdotes about building a restaurant almost as thrilling as the insights into hospitality, management, and business. The philosophies Danny Meyer presents are timeless, and many are at the core of what we do at our libraries - make people feel comfortable, feel like they're home. Much of what he shares in this book will stick with me for a long time - not just as an employee in a service industry, but also in the standards and expectations I have for the businesses I support.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Captivated Server This book has been an inspiration! I chose to rejoin the restaurant industry as I finished college because it was what I knew and was comfortable with. After giving the corporate world a chance, I took my business degree back to where my passion was.It was more than encouraging to hear praise for those who have love for hospitality! Working in a restaurant isn't what it used to be and I don't have! that hanging over my head any longer. A great read for anyone interested in hospi Captivated Server This book has been an inspiration! I chose to rejoin the restaurant industry as I finished college because it was what I knew and was comfortable with. After giving the corporate world a chance, I took my business degree back to where my passion was.It was more than encouraging to hear praise for those who have love for hospitality! Working in a restaurant isn't what it used to be and I don't have! that hanging over my head any longer. A great read for anyone interested in hospitality!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mahmoud Khoder

    One of the best business books I ever read: my intake on this book Danny Meyer owned and managed more than 9 restaurants, as we all know that once you have more than one business it is impossible to be in each one at the same time, Danny managed with high level of excellence to integrate a dynamic system with an empathic human touch, I recommend reading this book with the combination of reading the E-myth book, having systems in place to escalate your business growth should not replace the authe One of the best business books I ever read: my intake on this book Danny Meyer owned and managed more than 9 restaurants, as we all know that once you have more than one business it is impossible to be in each one at the same time, Danny managed with high level of excellence to integrate a dynamic system with an empathic human touch, I recommend reading this book with the combination of reading the E-myth book, having systems in place to escalate your business growth should not replace the authentic human touch which is vital for overall business success.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Nord

    Written by successful New York restauranteur Danny Meyer - he shares what he has learned about growing restaurants successfully. Lots of specific details pertinent to restaurants that I skipped over - but found his advice on how to treat customers to be valueable and applicable to libraries and other businesses. A sample of his wisdom, "our business is to give people a story to tell."

  22. 4 out of 5

    James J. Gurksnis Jr.

    Great if you're interested in going into the business. I liked Danny's passion for opening multiple restaurants and the fact that he was able to keep his customer base when he opened separate entities. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in going into the restaurant business on their own.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Fambrough

    Interesting biography and info about customer service

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Kibbe

    Danny Meyers writes a good story of his developing his excellent restaurant business in NYC. Clearly committed to excellence. That comes through on every page. I enjoyed it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tommy Kiedis

    Danny Meyer sets a table of ideas about hospitality and how to practice it. Meyer is a world-renowned restaurateur, but these are ideas for any organization or anyone who wants to learn how to deliver exceptional people-oriented service; hence his subtitle: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business. Initially, I felt chapter 1, "The First Course," his trip down memory lane, a bit pedantic. But the more I read the more I appreciated the historical context, a reminder the early years play a Danny Meyer sets a table of ideas about hospitality and how to practice it. Meyer is a world-renowned restaurateur, but these are ideas for any organization or anyone who wants to learn how to deliver exceptional people-oriented service; hence his subtitle: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business. Initially, I felt chapter 1, "The First Course," his trip down memory lane, a bit pedantic. But the more I read the more I appreciated the historical context, a reminder the early years play a pivotal role in our identity and interests. The balance of the book was for me one AHA! Moment after another (see www.onmywalk.com). Here are five of my big takeaways from Setting The Table: 1. Enlightened Hospitality: Extending gracious hospitality to one another (who ever wrote the rule that the customer is always first), our guests, our community, our suppliers, and finally investors. 2. Pay attention to the early years: Meyer's years, like those for all us, were telling. This was less a hospitality note, than a parenting note. Meyer's reflections on his upbringing make me want to say to every parent, prospective parent, and educator: "Pay attention to the early years!" They are formative for the future. Study them. Don't push your projections of what you want your kid to be. 3. the Salt shaker principle: "Your staff and guests are always moving your saltshaker off center. That's their job. It is the job of life. It's the law of entropy! . . . It is not your job to get upset. . . . Your job is just to jove the shaker back each time and let them know exactly what you stand for." This is from chapter 9, "Constant, Gentle Pressure." Page 188. 4. 51 Percenters: I would buy the book for the lesson of the 51 percenters (chapter 7, "The 51 Percent Solution"). "The only way a company can grow, stay true to its soul, and remain consistently successful is to attract, hire, and keep great people." The secret: Hire for 49 percent technical expertise; 51 percent innate emotional skills for hospitality. You've got to read the chapter. 5. Who ever wrote the rule?: This was both a chapter title (chapter 5), and a recurring theme. Meyer bucks traditional thinking at many places with that question. In doing so he made me rethink effectiveness and how to achieve it. I serve in a church and with an educational institution. I have children in sales and in the restaurant business. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business is must reading (at least "must gleaning") for transforming effectiveness in those environments and in life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    DuskyHued LadySatan

    i was given this book by the business investor-partner of the restaurant where i currently work bc he and the other owner/investors hero worship this dude and his whole 'hospitality' approach to business. frankly, they can have it. this guy name-drops like a true Manhattan-ite to try to gain credibility, brags about meeting his first chef while in a fist-fight with a customer over their preferred table, and generally comports himself as though he reinvented the wheel when it comes to restaurants i was given this book by the business investor-partner of the restaurant where i currently work bc he and the other owner/investors hero worship this dude and his whole 'hospitality' approach to business. frankly, they can have it. this guy name-drops like a true Manhattan-ite to try to gain credibility, brags about meeting his first chef while in a fist-fight with a customer over their preferred table, and generally comports himself as though he reinvented the wheel when it comes to restaurants and their operation. it's neither charming or nostalgic, which is the tone he seems to be going for in the two chapters that i struggled to finish. what he really did was force Open Table on the majority of the restaurant business, which has been nothing but detrimental to small, privately owned restaurants outside of big cities (and inside them, too), underpay all of his back-of-house staff and then start the 'service included' nonsense to put the burden of giving that back-of-house staff a (much deserved) raise on the front-of house-staff instead of out of his own multi-million dollar pockets, which in turn cost him all his good front-of-house staff (he's since abandoned he practice bc DUH, it didn't work *newsflash*). and now he's heavily invested in the reservation system Resy (so clever) which doesn't cost the restaurant money to use bc Resy tracks the users internet habits (all of them) and sells that money to the highest bidder on the back end. this guy didn't invent hospitality in business - companies and businesses have been practicing good hospitality for eons because they really do care about their customers, instead of seeing them as an endless supply of profit and marketing data. so this guy and his dumb book can get bent. the people i work for and their idiotic business practices annoy me endlessly, just like this stupid book did, and i'm at a loss as to why i bothered to have this book under 'currently reading' for as long as i did. in conclusion, be nice to your customers bc it's just basic human decency, and for heaven's sake, pay your staff a respectable, deserved wage or don't go into business. thank you, i'll be here all week - try the veal, and don't forget to tip your waitress.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I've always dreamed of eating at Danny Meyer's restaurants (but could only afford Shake Shack, which was a great experience). So the next best thing, I suppose, is to read his book about his experiences setting up these restaurants, which, at the time of writing, constituted Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Tabla (now defunct), Eleven Madison Park, Shake Shack, the Modern and the cafes at MoMa. Kitchen Confidential is a behind the scenes book about working on the line. Michael Ruhl I've always dreamed of eating at Danny Meyer's restaurants (but could only afford Shake Shack, which was a great experience). So the next best thing, I suppose, is to read his book about his experiences setting up these restaurants, which, at the time of writing, constituted Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Tabla (now defunct), Eleven Madison Park, Shake Shack, the Modern and the cafes at MoMa. Kitchen Confidential is a behind the scenes book about working on the line. Michael Ruhlman's books focus on the process of becoming a chef, then running one's own restaurant. It's quite obvious whose perspective Waiter Rant is written from. In Setting the Table, the focus is not on the chef or on the restaurant itself for that matter, but on the restauranteur and the business of running a restaurant (empire). It's a different perspective from which to look at the restaurant business and a fascinating one. Meyer's account of how he got started in the restaurant business, how he came up with the concept for Union Square Cafe and worked out the kinks of running a restaurant as a 27 year old, makes this book worth a read. But what I wasn't quite expecting, was that even if you're not interested in the food business, Setting the Table has a lot of gems and wisdom to offer on management in general. Managers should read the chapter The 51 Percent Solution, on how to select people (Meyer argues that we should identify "51 percenters" with the core emotional skills of optimistic warmth, intelligence/a thirst for learning, work ethic, empathy, self-awareness and integrity). The chapter on Constant, Gentle Pressure would be another one for required reading. It makes the point that as a manager, you need to exert constant, gentle pressure to "teach everyone who works for [you] to distinguish centre from off centre and always to set things right". And for people in the business of customer service, the bit in the chapter The Restaurant Takes Root on the distinction between service and hospitality is worth reading.

  28. 4 out of 5

    KevinS

    Setting the Table ostensibly offers the reader insight about how focused customer-centric attention and sincere, deep hospitality can steer a business to success. Meyer intersperses several nuggets of advise through the story of how he went on to win the James Beard award for Outstanding Restauranteur. The nuggets suggest the reader to hire people with 51% “feeling”-oriented to focus on delivering quality service for users, communicate well because doing so is good hospitality, finding you cente Setting the Table ostensibly offers the reader insight about how focused customer-centric attention and sincere, deep hospitality can steer a business to success. Meyer intersperses several nuggets of advise through the story of how he went on to win the James Beard award for Outstanding Restauranteur. The nuggets suggest the reader to hire people with 51% “feeling”-oriented to focus on delivering quality service for users, communicate well because doing so is good hospitality, finding you center of values, and gain an understanding of the context to make the right decision in the right place at the right time. In many ways the story follows Meyer as he established more & more successful restaurants and learns principles of hospitality along the way. The principles can certainly resonate with the reader. However, it is hard to ignore that much of the story sounds reads like Meyer’s fantasy story where he can do no wrong, never makes a moral mistake, and fights an uphill battle to build restaurants that help the people. It’s even harder to overlook the privileged circumstances surrounding Meyer’s success by counting how many times in the story Meyer 1. goes on casual vacations to France, Italy, and the Alps with his family or for inspiration 2. gets loans from his family (he learns advice to ask others for money along the way) 3. disputes with journalists, food critics, and protesters about the number of Michelin stars he thinks his restaurants deserve & argues he & his restaurants have been misunderstood & mistreated. Because so much of the story advances in these ways much of the advice sounds cliche and it’s applications seem unrelatable for the everyday small businessman. Setting the Table would personally be a more memorable book if it had more unique advice than circumstances that are relevant to the reader.

  29. 5 out of 5

    May

    Danny Meyer has created an extremely successful restaurant empire that includes restaurants as varied as The Modern (in MOMA), Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke, and Shake Shack. In his book, he relates how he built his restaurant business and what he thinks the keys to success are. While the author’s background is definitely in the restaurant and hospitality business, his outlook and his philosophy, not to mention the rules he has for his business, are applicable to all businesses (and non-profits). Danny Meyer has created an extremely successful restaurant empire that includes restaurants as varied as The Modern (in MOMA), Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke, and Shake Shack. In his book, he relates how he built his restaurant business and what he thinks the keys to success are. While the author’s background is definitely in the restaurant and hospitality business, his outlook and his philosophy, not to mention the rules he has for his business, are applicable to all businesses (and non-profits). The Union Square Hospitality Group (the name of Danny Meyer’s business) focuses on treating its employees well, attracting and retaining customers, being community-oriented, and delivering an excellent product. All of this, the author believes, results in a profitable business model. The results speak for themselves. The restaurants in his portfolio all have a reputation for excellent food and outstanding customer service. The author discusses how he looks for “a hospitality heart” when hiring employees. I am generally not a fan of business books, but this one is well-written, straightforward, and thoughtful. In particular, I like how the author presents his philosophy and gives concrete examples of how that philosophy creates a successful business model. (This goes much further than “the customer is always right.”). In fact, the author states explicitly that even when the customer is not right, focusing on giving the customer a positive experience still is the correct approach. Anyone who believes in emphasizing customer satisfaction, especially those in service-oriented businesses would benefit from reading this book. Heads of non-profits—where care and feeding of their donors is key to thriving—should also read this book. I highly recommend it! (Which, given that it is a business book, is unheard of!)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shreena Amin

    Despite being published over 10 years ago, Danny Meyer’s Setting The Table stands the test of time. Then book regales the story of of how Meyer developed and continues to deliver his unique brand of hospitality. Meyers starts by sharing his parents forays in the hospitality industry. He chronicles his childhood from his early midwestern days in Saint Louis to his first indelible travels to Europe. His intense curiosity and obsession with all things food is palpable from the onset. That innate pa Despite being published over 10 years ago, Danny Meyer’s Setting The Table stands the test of time. Then book regales the story of of how Meyer developed and continues to deliver his unique brand of hospitality. Meyers starts by sharing his parents forays in the hospitality industry. He chronicles his childhood from his early midwestern days in Saint Louis to his first indelible travels to Europe. His intense curiosity and obsession with all things food is palpable from the onset. That innate passion ultimately results in him giving up a high paying and secure job to pursue his dream of opening a restaurant. The first restaurant becomes the iconic Union Square Cafe in New York City. This is the story of how Meyer’s somewhat shaky start ultimately becomes a slow but steady journey building a hospitality empire (that has only grown in stature and scope in the decade since the book was published). Through the story, Meyer lays out his personal business and management philosophy -- all centralized on making the customer feel a specific way. His tenets hold up in an ever changing and challenging restaurant landscape. While the story is not always riveting, the lessons ultimately transcend the restaurant industry. I believe it is a pertinent read for leaders and managers across a range of fields-- and a must read for aspiring restaurateurs and restaurant aficionados.

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