Setting the Table
I guess a little bit like what we’re trying to do here, but on a much bigger, much more impressive scale, Danny Meyer compiled 25 years of experience in the restaurant business in a book called “Setting the table”. Recommended by my ex-partner in crime over at Market Lane, barista and daddy extraordinaire Tim Marriage, this book will definitely be hanging out on my bedside table or accompany me on every métro ride in the near future.
I’m only a couple of chapters in but I already like his very personal approach and straight-forward writing. Here’s a piece from the introduction that particularly resonated with me:
I was born to go into business for myself—and I was destined to find a business that would allow me to share with others my enthusiasm for things I find pleasurable. My craving for the adventures of travel, food, and wine is what first compelled me to do what I do. In fact, like so many other entrepreneurs I’ve met, I’m not even sure I had much of a choice: a career in the restaurant business was going to tap me on the shoulder even if I hadn’t found it first. All these years later, the delights of the table continue to stimulate me as I pursue my career. But what really challenges me to get up and go to work every day, and has also motivated me to write this book, is my deep conviction about the intense human drive to provide and receive hospitality—well beyond the world of restaurants. […]
Since the beginning, people have told me that in going into the restaurant business, I chose one of the hardest businesses in the world. True, a restaurant has all kinds of moving parts that make it particularly challenging. In order to succeed, you need to apply—simultanously—exceptional skills in selecting real estate, negotiating, hiring, training, motivating, purchasing, budgeting, designing, manufacturing, cooking, tasting, pricing, selling, servicing, marketing, and hosting.And the purpose of all this is a product that provides pleasure and that people trust is safe to ingest into their bodies. Also, unlike almost any other manufacturer, you are actually present while the goods are being consumed and experienced, so that you can gauge your customers’ reactions in real time.That’s pretty complex, emotional stuff. […]
You may think, as I once did, that I’m primarily in the business of serving good food. Actually, though, food is secondary to something that matters even more. In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.
Since a lawsuit is the last thing I need right now, you can buy Danny’s book here.