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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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  6,187 ratings  ·  489 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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Harper (first published October 1st 2006)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  6,187 ratings  ·  489 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
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
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!!! ...more
Apr 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
Long considered the modern-day bible of the service industry, Danny Meyer's memoir is the tale of his professional life from the first restaurant he launched to the nine concerns he was running at the writing of this book. Those familiar with dining out in Manhattan will have heard of Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and Eleven Madison Park. Lesser known but just as successful were Tabla (Indian cuisine), Blue Smoke (barbeque), Jazz Standard and The Modern (located within the Museum of Modern ...more
Nov 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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,
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
A successful restaurant owner shares his philosophy on how to run a successful business and motivate employees similar to the "lead with luv" techniques that were used at Souththwest Airlines, prior to the retirement of Herb and Colleen. Even if you are not in the restaurant business you can learn the difference between good customer service and true hospitality! ...more
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.
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
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
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. ...more
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
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
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.
Rachel B
I appreciate the pro-hospitality message of this book, but it's about a hundred pages too long and somewhat repetitive.

When the author talked about his privileged upbringing, he seemed rather humble and down to earth. But when he detailed the openings of each of his restaurants and other various business events, the book began to feel like a really long, boring, arrogant commercial.

Meyer is obviously a foodie, and there are many foreign food terms, especially wine names, that I had no idea how
DeBora Rachelle
Dec 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
The book may have started off slow but I’m glad I kept reading. My first thoughts were, this guy cannot teach me anything as he doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing. However, as I continued to read I thought, perhaps it’s not what you start off knowing but what kind of a person you are inside that allows us to learn from our mistakes and make us better because of it. Meyer really grew with his business. He analyzed and perfected his business as he went along and luckily made immediate changes s ...more
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. ...more
Roy 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
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. ...more
Tom Lord
Mar 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Once you get past the obscene amount of privilege in the opening chapters and get to how hospitality is the beating heart of Meyer's businesses then this book becomes an excellent read.
As a hospitality professional of 10+ years, I'd recommend this to anyone looking to step out on their own.
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I know Danny Meyer can be a bull dozer with his information and that to some, he sounds like another dude that loves the sound of his own voice, so it is a turn off to the valuable information about the restaurant industry he provides. But, at the end of the day, the man knows the business.
I first picked this up in 2010, when I was transitioning from being a bartender in a bar that was a beer and shot with wings and tots kind of place to being a server at a Four Seasons hotel - The Ritz-Carlton
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
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
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
Jahnavi Jha
Mar 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bryanna Beddeos
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. ...more
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
Marissa Murray
May 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great memoir / business advice / history of NYC dining. Despite being written 15 years ago it still felt fresh and relevant.
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
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. ...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. ...more

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