Articles Tagged ‘Union Square Hospitality Group’

Union Square Hospitality Group (Case Studies of Great Companies)

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

I. Overview

Danny Meyer started his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe, in 1985, and has since gone on to have (at last count) 12 highly-rated restaurants in New York City. Each of the restaurants calls upon his passion and creativity. They must add something new and compelling, such as in his Indian-inspired Restaurant, Tabla, which utilizes the unique flavoring of Indian spices blended with French culinary technique and American hospitality.

In fact, Danny won’t start a new restaurant (others are in the works) unless these several criteria hold:

1. “I am passionate about the subject matter (i.e., early American folk antiques, modern art, jazz, barbecue)”

2. “I know I will derive some combination of challenge, satisfaction, and pleasure from the venture.”

3. “It presents meaningful opportunities for professional growth for my colleagues and me.”

4. “The new business will add something to the dialogue in a specific context, such as luxury dining (Gramercy Tavern), museum dining (The Modern, Cafe 2, and Terrace 5 at the
Museum of Modern Art), Indian dining (Tabla), barbecue (Blue Smoke), or burgers and frozen custard (Shake Shack)”

5. “Financial projections indicate the possibility of sufficient profit and returns on our investment to warrant the risk we’re undertaking”

Adhering to this formula has paid off for Meyer as his the Union Square Hospitality Group has had as many as three of the five “Most Popular” restaurants in a single New York Zagat Survey.

Crucial to Meyer’s success has been his vision of hospitality, something that started as an intuitive feel and has since been articulated into a systematic approach that he infuses into each of his restaurants. The distinction between service and hospitality has been crucial to the passion with which New Yorkers embrace Meyer’s restaurants. Meyer sees service as “the technical delivery of a product. In contrast, hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel.” Meyer characterizes service as a monologue, but hospitality is a dialogue. Union Square Hospitality Group makes sure that the service is top of the mark, but hospitality has been the ingredient that has pushed their restaurants to the top.

II. Focal Strategy: Hiring by the 51% Solution

Pivotal in delivering top-of-the-line hospitality for its customers, as well as service, is Meyer’s concept of hiring talent by the 51% solution, in which emotional skills of a potential employee are weighted higher than technical skills. To achieve excellence,
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