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Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
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Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  4,400 ratings  ·  408 reviews
The bestselling business book from award-winning restauranteur Danny Meyer, of Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and Shake Shack

Seventy-five percent of all new restaurant ventures fail, and of those that do stick around, only a few become icons. Danny Meyer started Union Square Cafe when he was 27, with a good idea and hopeful investors. He is now the co-owner of a resta
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Harper (first published October 1st 2006)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  4,400 ratings  ·  408 reviews


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Evin Ashley
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
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Josh
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: wealthy wannabe restauranteurs
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!!!
Mindy
Nov 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Library Leadership
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,
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Jo
Mar 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Normalene
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Hank
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know how it took 5 years from my first USHG visit to get and read this book. I also can’t remember the last time I read a book where almost every chapter elicited some visceral emotion, let alone a “business” book.

I have so many fond memories of USHG, both solo and group dining. (I really appreciated Danny Meyer’s acknowledgment and treatment of solo diners early in the book!) And it was amazing to relive those memories through the origins of the group’s principles — the principles that
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DuskyHued LadySatan
Mar 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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 ...more
Nicole Cunha
2.5/3 stars

Normally, I enjoy biographies, especially when they're read by the author. If I didn't have to finish listening to this for work, it would've dropped into my abandoned pile faster than a hot potato.

Meyer has some valuable points on hospitality and service, but they are drowned out by an intense amount of context and promoting his business-portfolio. It was like looking for gems in mud.

1) I would've preferred more specific case studies THAT GET TO THE POINT. This felt like reading He
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Fud
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Laura Vana
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jen
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
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.
Mikedariano
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Rohit Nallapeta
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I started reading this book based on a VC's recommendation and express admiration of Danny Meyer. I loved the storytelling and arc with which Danny leads. As I've seen with books from other entrepreneurs, this book mixes a personal story, beliefs, and best practices they followed in their business. Inevitably all leaders focus on management which even Danny does in this book. Some exceptional concepts that I took away from this book are finding the north star of a business, in Danny's case it wa ...more
Hardik Seth
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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Molly
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
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
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Matthew Bunk
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Danny Bennett
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
There's a lot of good nuggets in this book if you are in the hospitality industry. I work in food service at a Christian camp, so it's different from a restaurant environment, but a lot of things translated well across the different careers. I'm already changing and adjusting how I treat guests and employees from reading this book. I did feel Meyer got lost in the weeds a lot. He goes into to many details when telling his story of business that his points could get lost. I also thought he became ...more
Bryanna Tebbetts
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super insightful for anyone in the hospitality industry!
Jim Beatty
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Kartik
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Everything about this book is inspirational - how to treat people, how to build a community, how to build trust and through that, how to build a business
Sunny
Six stars. I know I give a lot of six stars to some incredible books but this one ranks high up amongst them. I really got interested in Danny Meyer after finding out about the culture that he’s created in his restaurants (and very successful restaurants I should add) by focusing predominantly on the language and rhetoric that he uses and encourages his staff to use and therefore think according to, in his restaurants. Some of the phrases that you’ll see dotted in this review for the below have ...more
Jenna
Apr 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for work. It isn't something I'd ever pick up on my own. The audiobook is abridged and I feel like I might have missed something.
Alan Teder
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
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Tyler
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food, biography, business
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
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Ties
Aug 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I think it is, or at least was, a novel take on business to look at it from the perspective of hospitality. In my experience, this way of thinking is lacking in many businesses today, especially in the Netherlands where people have difficulty seperating being hospitable and being subservient.

But this book failed to inspire me or move me to do anything in a real sense. So I cannot recommend this book.
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
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Lenny D
Picture a Hillary Clinton TED talk about how to sell rich people expensive food. Not a bad way to pass the time. It’s a good, honest read as far as ghostwritten management consulting pamphlets go.

Danny Meyer, king of New York City haute-casual dining, published this book with the clear intent to launch the management consulting venture today called Hospitality Quotient. After a career of uninterrupted success in the restaurant business, he felt his unique approach to hospitality could separate w
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Antoine Fouster
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
This has been a very difficult book to get through but I struggled through it as it was recommended by a few people. Despite all his success, Danny Meyer just comes off as a massive tool...which you could probably gather off the cover of this book. This book is the opposite of inspiring, it's just a collection of his wins...like his partnership with AMEX (very impressive Danny we're proud of you) or the time he flexed on Evian and changed his supplier to FIJI water (slow clap). The riveting stor ...more
Stacie
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Ashley
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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Considered by the New York Times to be "the greatest restaurateur Manhattan has ever seen," Danny Meyer is CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group. His restaurants have won an unprecedented twenty-one James Beard Awards. His book, Setting the Table, was a New York Times bestseller.

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“The excellence reflex is a natural reaction to fix something that isn't right, or to improve something that could be better.

The excellence reflex is rooted in instinct and upbringing, and then constantly honed through awareness, caring and practice.

The overarching concern to do the right thing well is something we can't train for. Either it's there or it isn't.”
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“Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.” 6 likes
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