Danny Meyer

CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group

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
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.
Danny’s groundbreaking business book, Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), 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 2017 Julia Child Award, the 2015 TIME 100 “Most Influential
People” list, the 2012 Aspen Institute Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership, the 2011
NYU Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City, and the 2000 IFMA Gold
Plate Award. Together, Danny and USHG’s restaurants and individuals have won an
unprecedented 28 James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Restaurateur (2005) and Who’s
Who of Food and Beverage in America (1996).
Danny and his wife, Audrey, live in New York City and have four children.


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Copyright 2019 Independent Lodging Congress

Copyright 2019 Independent Lodging Congress