Danny Meyer, the foodie who would be a business guru.

What to eat. What not to eat.
Nov. 10 2006 1:12 PM

Danny Meyer

The foodie who would be a business guru.

(Continued from Page 1)

As Meyer expanded, he continued to emphasize hospitality above all else, even food. Meyer's book is riddled with telling anecdotes on this point. His staff enters information about regular diners into his restaurants' "guest notes" databases ("Likes table 42; bring hot sauce with food … ice on side always with cocktails"). They also note past mistakes—"overcooked salmon on 7/16"—as well as patrons' birthdays, anniversaries, and lines of work. (Meyer has been known to provide introductions between guests when he feels it could benefit them professionally.)

He tells the story of one woman who left her cell phone and wallet in a cab after arriving at his restaurant Tabla. Upon hearing this, Tabla's general manager, at Meyer's urging, called the woman's cell phone, got a hold of the cab driver, and sent staff up to the driver's location in the Bronx to retrieve her phone and wallet. Or there's the couple who, when dining at Eleven Madison Park on their anniversary, remembered they'd left a bottle of champagne in their freezer, in danger of exploding. The husband was ready to run home himself, but the maitre d' insisted he stay and enjoy dinner with his wife. Instead, the maitre d' went to their nearby apartment, liberated the champagne from its perilous fate (with the aid of a doorman), and set it out alongside some complimentary chocolates and caviar.

Advertisement

These save-the-day feats of generosity undoubtedly leave the average reader agape, and rightfully so. They're impressive. And I'm all for the Aetna chief operating officer who wants to take pointers from Meyer. But somehow that seems unlikely. The real beneficiaries of Meyer's wisdom will be the aspiring hotelier seeking to fan out his enterprise, the celebrity chefs rapidly overexpanding their fiefdoms. It would be even more valuable, though, if Meyer could be as focused in his writing as he is in his business. As his own grandfather used to say, "Doing two things like a half-wit never equals doing one thing like a whole wit."

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.