Danny Meyer

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Founder, Shake Shack and Union Square Hospitality Group

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    Danny Meyer: Biography at a Glance

    • Danny Meyer is a managing partner and former CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, the company behind multiple award-winning restaurants including Gramercy Tavern,  Shake Shack, The Modern, and Union Square Cafe. 
    • He is the best-selling author of Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business.
    • USHG restaurants and chefs have earned an unprecedented 28 James Beard awards. 
    • Meyer diversified USHG by launching the full-service catering and hospitality business Union Square Events and the learning and consultant business Quotient. 



    Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Danny Meyer grew up in a family that relished great food and hospitality. Thanks to his father’s travel business, which designed custom European trips, Danny spent much of his childhood eating, visiting near and far-off places, and sowing the seeds for his future passion. In 1985, at the age of 27, Danny opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe, launching what would become a lifelong career in hospitality. 

    Thirty years later, Danny’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) comprises some of New York’s most beloved and acclaimed restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Maialino, and more. Danny and USHG founded Shake Shack, the modern-day “roadside” burger restaurant, which became a public company in 2015. USHG also offers large-scale event services, foodservice solutions for public and private institutions, industry consulting, and educational programming. 

    Under Danny’s leadership, USHG is renowned not only for its acclaimed restaurants but also for its distinctive and celebrated culture of Enlightened Hospitality. This guiding principle of prioritizing employees first and foremost has driven and shaped USHG’s ongoing evolution from a small group of restaurants into a multi-faceted hospitality organization.

    Danny and USHG’s diverse ventures have added to the hospitality dialogue in many contexts including dining options in museums, sports arenas, and cultural institutions, as well as prescient investments in burgeoning neighborhoods. USHG launched a pioneering initiative to eliminate tipping throughout its New York restaurants. This new way of business, called Hospitality Included, is designed to compensate the restaurant team more equitably and professionally while providing clear paths for professional advancement.

    Danny’s groundbreaking business book, Setting the Table, a New York Times Bestseller, articulates a set of signature business and life principles that translate to a wide range of industries. A celebrated speaker and educator, Danny has set industry standards in areas such as hiring practices, innovative leadership, and corporate responsibility and addresses a wide range of audiences on such topics around the country.

    Danny has been generously recognized for his leadership, business achievements, and humanitarianism, including the Julia Child Award, the TIME 100 “Most Influential People” list, the Aspen Institute Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership, the NYU Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City, and the IFMA Gold Plate Award. Together, Danny and USHG’s restaurants and individuals have won an unprecedented 28 James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Restaurateur and Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.

    Danny and his wife, Audrey, live in New York City and have four children.

    Danny was fantastic. I knew he'd be excellent, but he was even better than that!!


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