Few sectors have felt the impact of the pandemic more than the restaurant industry. The National Restaurant Association estimates a loss of $240 billion in sales and 2.5 million jobs during 2020. Untold numbers of restaurants have shuttered permanently, and the long-term costs for industry remain to be seen. CEO and chairman of Union Square Hospitality Group, also founder of Shake Shack, Danny Meyer, joins Washington Post Live on Tuesday, March 2 at 11:30am ET to discuss what the restaurant industry needs to make it through the remainder of the pandemic.


Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, says President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill is a “step in the right direction” to help the struggling restaurant industry. “What this latest act should do and will do is actually to fill the gap between what a restaurant’s revenue was in 2019 and then when they fell right off the cliff in 2020.” (Washington Post Live)
Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, says the restaurant industry has an obligation to improve diversity and equity moving forward. “We have absolutely every opportunity with a blank canvas to paint the type of diversity that we probably should’ve had for many, many years, and now we have the opportunity, and I would say, quite frankly, the obligation to do.” (Washington Post Live)
Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, says he believes the minimum wage should be raised. "I believe that any time you do something that applies to everybody, it's not a bad thing. I think the min wage could be raised to $15 in a phased type of way. I don't think it has to come this year, it probably shouldn’t.” (Washington Post Live)

Danny Meyer

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Danny Meyer grew up in a family that relished great food and hospitality. Thanks to his father’s travel business, which designed custom European trips, Danny spent much of his childhood eating, visiting near and far-off places, and sowing the seeds for his future passion. In 1985, at the age of 27, Danny opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe, launching what would become a lifelong career in hospitality.

Thirty years later, Danny’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) comprises some of New York’s most beloved and acclaimed restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Maialino, and more. Danny and USHG founded Shake Shack, the modern-day “roadside” burger restaurant, which became a public company in 2015. USHG also offers large-scale event services, foodservice solutions for public and private institutions, industry consulting, and educational programming.

Under Danny’s leadership, USHG is renowned not only for its acclaimed restaurants but also for its distinctive and celebrated culture of Enlightened Hospitality. This guiding principle of prioritizing employees first and foremost has driven and shaped USHG’s ongoing evolution from a small group of restaurants into a multi-faceted hospitality organization.

Danny and USHG’s diverse ventures have added to the hospitality dialogue in many contexts including dining options in museums, sports arenas, and cultural institutions, as well as prescient investments in burgeoning neighborhoods.

Danny’s groundbreaking business book, Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), a New York Times Bestseller, articulates a set of signature business and life principles that translate to a wide range of industries. A celebrated speaker and educator, Danny has set industry standards in areas such as hiring practices, innovative leadership, and corporate responsibility and addresses a wide range of audiences on such topics around the country.

Danny has been generously recognized for his leadership, business achievements, and humanitarianism, including the 2017 Julia Child Award, the 2015 TIME 100 “Most Influential People” list, the 2012 Aspen Institute Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership, the 2011 NYU Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City, and the 2000 IFMA Gold Plate Award. Together, Danny and USHG’s restaurants and individuals have won an unprecedented 28 James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Restaurateur (2005) and Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America (1996).

Danny and his wife, Audrey, live in New York City and have four children.