If you love mouth-watering burgers and delicious milkshakes, then it’s pretty likely that you love Shake Shack as well. This popular eatery, with a new location a short GUTS bus ride away in Dupont Circle, is one of eleven eateries started by renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer.
On Tuesday evening, the Lecture Fund hosted Meyer in a packed Riggs Library to talk about how he got into the restaurant business, what he’s learned in the process, and how hospitality guides his current success as the CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group.
Meyer started by telling the story of his own college life as a Political Science major at Trinity College, where he believed that the only career path that he could consider was to become a lawyer. “I will never forget how blind I was,” Meyer said. “I was thinking about what I could do versus what I should do.”
He emphasized the importance of following your passions: “To be doing something with your short life that you don’t want to do is absolutely ludicrous. Your passions are there. Your gifts are there.” Meyer explained that after entering the restaurant business, he realized that work must be something you love: “I have a very highly developed love for doing things that make other people happy.” For Meyer, making other people happy came in the form of great food, service, and hospitality.
Meyer also delved into what exactly he meant by hospitality, and why he found it so important in the current state of competition in the restaurant industry. “Perfection is nearly impossible in my business,” he said, “You can overcome human mistakes with hospitality….it is a completely universal need.”
The restaurateur closed with a trivia game that offered coveted Shake Shack gift cards and T-shirts as prizes, followed by a brief question and answer. During the Q&A, Meyer continued to wax philosophically: “Maya Angelou said that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. In hospitality, the person on the receiving end has to believe you’re on their side.”