Culinary Excellence and Enlightened Hospitality- Marcello Recommends: Setting The Table by Danny Meyer

Hospitality enlightenment and entrepreneurial wisdom from Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer had me from page three when he wrote, “You may think, as I once did, that I’m primarily in the business of serving great food.  Actually, though, food is secondary to something that matters even more.  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.”  

In his exquisitely-written New York Times Best Seller, Setting The Table, Danny takes you on an exhaustive  & exhilarating behind-the-scenes roller coaster ride of an insatiable culinary enthusiast, ultra-successful restaurateur and renowned hospitality specialist.

I’ve always been inspired by people who are driven, sharp, worldly and talented. The icing on the cake though is when those same people are not only humble enough to admit that they aren’t perfect, but when they actually share their challenging experiences to help others avoid making the same mistakes in the future.   The book is filled with lessons and nuggets on nearly every topic regarding superior business acumen like management, training, recruiting, branding, customer service, the importance of having mentors and traveling as well as the uber-importance of being a visionary.

Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite;

Polish and presence. Meyer in front of Gramercy Tavern

“The golden rule remains as fresh and meaningful as ever; and beyond how well it serves people in their lives, it may also be the most potent business strategy ever devised.  In business, as in life, you get what you give.

“So you made a mistake.  You need to understand something important.  And listen to me carefully: The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.” -via Stanley Marcus

A special type of personality thrives on providing hospitality, and it’s crucial to our success that we attract people who possess it.  Their source of energy is rarely depleted.  In fact, the more opportunities “hospitalitarians” have to care for other people, the better they feel.”

“We have fun taking service seriously.  And as far as perfection, we just hide our mistakes better than anyone else.” via Jean-Cleane Vrinat

“Shared ownership develops when guests talk about a restaurant as if it’s theirs.  They can’t wait to share it with friends, and what they’re really sharing, beyond the culinary experience, is the experience of feeling important and loved.  That sense of affiliation builds trust and a sense of being accepted and appreciated, invariably leading to repeat business, a necessity for any company’s long-term survival.”

The consummate culinary connoisseur and hospitalitarian, Danny Meyer

“I also learned how critical it was to manage expectations– and to plan for success, not just failure.  Too often we’ve made mistakes by not anticipating what the consequences would be if we were to win.”

“I ended the memo by quoting something my late grandfather,  Irving Harris, always used to remind me. ‘People will say a lot of great things about your business, and a lot of nasty things as well.  Just remember: You’re never as good as the best things they’ll say, and never as bad as the negative ones.  Just keep centered, know what you stand for, strive for new goals, and always be decent.’ “

FYI- Danny drops a lot of first-hand & first class recommendations for food, wine and destinations throughout the book.  If you keep a “treat yourself” type of bucket list like I do, you may want to keep it handy while reading the book.  He’s pretty much eaten, drank and traveled some of the best that life has to offer.

Ten Things by Mike Walter

Special thanks to Mike Walter for sending me a copy of Setting the Table.   It was a bit longer than Mike’s latest book, 10 Things You Can Do To Have a Better Day, which I was able to read pool-side in one session.   Danny’s book, (weighing in at 320 pages with NO pictures) took me a few months to finally get to the back cover.

The combination of being a woefully slow reader and having an “eventful” past couple of months made this one tough to finally finish.   Fortunately, it was an extremely insightful, entertaining and worthwhile read.  Enjoy!

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