Rees’s Reads #1 – Setting The Table by Danny Meyer

Setting The Table – The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

This book should be compulsory reading for everyone who works in any business that serves customers face to face. I believe it is essential for any dentist looking to differentiate themselves – especially from corporate practices.

Danny Meyer is a restauranteur. The CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group this books describes how his passion for food and service led to his founding, over a 21 year period, five “white-table” restaurants, an urban barbecue joint, a feel-good jazz club, a neo-roadside hotdog & burger stand, three modern museum cafes and on off-premises, restaurant quality catering company. At the time of writing he had not had to close any of them.

The basis of his an any successful restaurants is the quality of the food allied with a dedication to the best possible service. Danny describes the non-food elements as “hospitality”. His aim when opening a new venue is to, “draw the best elements of the classic, make it authentic for its present context, and then try to execute it with excellence.” 

Throughout the book he presents case studies, words of wisdom, stories of what has worked and what hasn’t, the lessons he has learned and above all how to be successful by serving the public but on your own terms.

Here are a few quotes:

Self: I have always viewed excellence as a journey rather than a destination. Taking that journey demands a form of athleticism. It is the athlete’s nature to call on all resources to compete and win. I believe it’s possible to apply to business the same skills I would apply on a tennis court or baseball diamond. I see this as a combination of innate ability, focused training, and a persistent zeal to win.

Marketing: Know Thyself: Before you go to market, know what you are selling and to whom. It’s a very rare business that can (or should) be all things to all people. Be the best you can be within a reasonably tight product focus. That will help you improve yourself and help your customers to know how and when to buy your product.

Service: Best described through what he has written of how he discovered “enlightened hospitality” after his wife miscarried twins and his life took a different perspective. He describes outlining what he considered non-negotiable about how he does business. “Nothing would ever matter more to me than how we expressed hospitality to each one another. And then in descending order, our next core values would be to extend gracious hospitality to our guests, our community, our suppliers, and finally our investors.”

People: He talks about the 51% that he looks for in employees whether they be chefs or the front of house team. He says he wants people who have 51% emotional hospitality and 49% technical ability. He seeks the “excellence reflex” in people which is a natural reaction to fix something that isn’t right, or to improve something that could be better. “This “excellence reflex” is rooted in instinct and upbringing, and then constantly honed through awareness, caring and practice.”

In the chapter, “Whoever wrote the rule…?” he questions acceptance of the status quo and the conventional ways of doing things saying, “The commitment to add something fresh to an existing dialogue informs every decision my colleagues and I make.”

I could go on but I have exceeded the 500 words I allow myself here. Just get the book, read it and be inspired.

Buy it from The Book Depository HERE.

 

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