The head of Union Square Hospitality Group says it's about how customers feel.
When Danny Meyer talks, people listen. Beyond launching one of New York City's most successful restaurant groups, Union Square Hospitality Group, he's also the mastermind behind the swiftly growing Shake Shack burger chain and is possibly putting his stake in the fast casual ground with his brand new Martina pizza joint. (Not to mention being named one of Time's Most Influential People.) Meyer was interviewed for a recent piece on CBS This Morning about "techniques that savvy restaurant owners are using" to attract (and keep) customers.
Of course, if you've ever been to a Danny Meyer restaurant—even if it's only a Shake Shack—it's clear that he pays attention to detail. But it can be harder to really home in on what those details are. So hearing him explain the secrets himself is especially intriguing. For instance, the first thing mentioned in the CBS story was tables... and not just how they're set or where they're placed. "You want to have a variety of table shapes because you don't want people's eyes or their experiences to get boring," he said. "The table is always going to be ever so slightly wider than it is deep. It drives me crazy when I go to a restaurant and the person I came with is further away from me than the two people on either side of me with whom I didn't come." (Bet you hadn't noticed that one!)
He also spoke to the importance of noise. "Noise is a lot like salt in the hands of a chef," he said, "Too much is wrong and too little is wrong." It's all part of his larger analysis of what's important in a restaurant, which he believes goes way beyond serving great food. "When people choose to come back or not, they may say it has to do with what you put on the plate or what you pour into the glass," Meyer explained. "I guarantee you that the decision to return has almost everything to do with how did we make you feel."