Nora Ali: Welcome back to Cheddar Business.
Nora Ali: Shake Shack is one of
Nora Ali: the many restaurant chains leading
Nora Ali: the way in tech innovation.
Nora Ali: The founder of Shake Shack
Nora Ali: famed restaurant tour, Danny Meyer,
Nora Ali: also owns a vast portfolio of restaurants in New York
Nora Ali: and beyond through his Union Square Hospitality Group.
Nora Ali: In this episode of Slice,
Nora Ali: New York's Stock Exchange Vice Chairman Betty Liu,
Nora Ali: sits down with Meyer to talk about what
Nora Ali: other changes are on top. Take a look.
Nora Ali: [MUSIC]
Betty Liu: This is like old times Danny.
Danny Meyer: Good to see you.
Betty Liu: I know. Great to see you.
Danny Meyer: In your home.
Betty Liu: In our home in the New York Stock Exchange.
Betty Liu: Okay, so first question to
Betty Liu: you is really actually related to,
Betty Liu: we are living tech here, you know,
Betty Liu: we talked about people and technology,
Betty Liu: how is technology changing your business?
Danny Meyer: Dramatically. If you ask me what tech was when I
Danny Meyer: first became a restaurateur in 1985,
Danny Meyer: I probably would have pointed to the-
Betty Liu: Cash register? [LAUGHTER]
Danny Meyer: -to the NCR cash register on the back bar.
Danny Meyer: Today, it's almost everything.
Danny Meyer: So it takes a lot
Danny Meyer: of the friction out of the experience for our guests,
Danny Meyer: whether it's making reservations.
Danny Meyer: I would say probably the biggest way we're
Danny Meyer: trying to use tech is to advance touch.
Danny Meyer: So the more we can know about our guests,
Danny Meyer: the more we can know about
Danny Meyer: people's preferences and deliver on those preferences.
Danny Meyer: Everybody wants convenience.
Betty Liu: Yeah.
Danny Meyer: But they also want experience,
Danny Meyer: and so if we can add more convenience to
Danny Meyer: the amazing hospitality experience, that's a good thing.
Betty Liu: Is there a place where you would not use technology,
Betty Liu: where you think that technology
Betty Liu: actually would not enhance the experience?
Danny Meyer: I don't really enjoy the,
Danny Meyer: the image of not having a human being taking my order
Danny Meyer: and being there to explain or
Danny Meyer: share their enthusiasm for the food or wine.
Danny Meyer: There's something about the human experience
Danny Meyer: and touch of knowing that,
Danny Meyer: that sommelier or that server sat
Danny Meyer: in a wine tasting today and loved
Danny Meyer: that wine so much that they want to share
Danny Meyer: that enthusiasm with me. I don't want to give that up.
Betty Liu: You have, um, an investment arm,
Betty Liu: enlightened hospitality investment.
Betty Liu: So what are you looking for here with these investment?
Danny Meyer: So we're looking for a lot of things.
Danny Meyer: We're looking to learn from
Danny Meyer: other businesses who came up with
Danny Meyer: ideas we only wish we had come up with,
Danny Meyer: [LAUGHTER] who are led by
Danny Meyer: people who we would have loved to have hired;
Danny Meyer: and when we talk about hospitality,- [OVERLAPPING]
Betty Liu: Yeah.
Danny Meyer: -we mean business. We mean business
Danny Meyer: so much that we want to
Danny Meyer: invest in other people
Danny Meyer: who are putting their people first,
Danny Meyer: who are putting their guests second,
Danny Meyer: who are putting their community
Danny Meyer: third, their suppliers fourth,
Danny Meyer: and their investors fifth,
Danny Meyer: not as a linear totem pole
Danny Meyer: where the investors on the bottom,
Danny Meyer: but as a virtuous cycle.
Betty Liu: What are some of the investment?
Betty Liu: What are some of the companies you're most excited about?
Danny Meyer: Well, I'm excited about all of them.
Danny Meyer: I mean we wouldn't have done
Danny Meyer: the investment in the first place.
Danny Meyer: They're mostly in the food and or tech segment
Danny Meyer: that touches the hospitality industry.
Betty Liu: Right.
Danny Meyer: There's even one investment that you might
Danny Meyer: be surprised with called Madison Reed,
Danny Meyer: and it's a do it yourself hair coloring business.
Danny Meyer: At the end of the day, whether you put the food
Danny Meyer: into your body or you put the dye on your hair,
Danny Meyer: the way you treat people and the way they
Danny Meyer: treat their staff made them a really,
Danny Meyer: really good candidate for us.
Danny Meyer: We also have a company that's based on
Danny Meyer: chickpea pasta called Banza.
Betty Liu: Oh, yeah. [OVERLAPPING]
Danny Meyer: And they're a fantastic brand that's growing like crazy.
Danny Meyer: There's one that is called Goldbelly.
Danny Meyer: And Goldbelly is really
Danny Meyer: at the intersection between convenience and
Danny Meyer: experience because they can deliver to
Danny Meyer: your doorstep an iconic food that you may know
Danny Meyer: from some other place in your life that doesn't exist in
Danny Meyer: New York City and they can deliver
Danny Meyer: great New York foods to
Danny Meyer: other places in the country as well.
Danny Meyer: Foods that touched your heart, whether you- [OVERLAPPING]
Betty Liu: Like feelings.
Danny Meyer: This- that's what they're doing.
Betty Liu: Yeah.
Danny Meyer: They're selling feelings and making it possible for you
Danny Meyer: to have those feelings without necessarily
Danny Meyer: having to get on an airplane to go do it.
Betty Liu: Curious, what's the difference
Betty Liu: between being an entrepreneur and
Betty Liu: starting restaurant and starting
Betty Liu: businesses and being an investor?
Danny Meyer: Such a similar thing.
Danny Meyer: I think I have a special empathy
Danny Meyer: for founder led businesses,
Danny Meyer: uh, because that's all I've done my whole life.
Betty Liu: Right.
Danny Meyer: Part of the reason that we've been able to grow,
Danny Meyer: Union Square Hospitality Group so much
Danny Meyer: that Shake Shack even became its own, uh,
Danny Meyer: separate public company right here at
Danny Meyer: the New York Stock Exchange is we're also
Danny Meyer: pretty good at betting on people and betting on leaders.
Betty Liu: I mean, you look at Shake Shack as,
Betty Liu: as one of those iconic companies that really
Betty Liu: heralded the fast casual trend,
Betty Liu: you know, here in the US
Betty Liu: and I'm kind of curious what you've learned,
Betty Liu: you know, five years on from that,
Betty Liu: where are we with that trend?
Danny Meyer: Well, I actually call it the fine casual trend,
Danny Meyer: and the reason I call it that is that it
Danny Meyer: represents the convergence of
Danny Meyer: the fine dining restaurant industry.
Danny Meyer: You know, people who went to culinary school
Danny Meyer: and cared deeply
Danny Meyer: about how they source
Danny Meyer: their ingredients and cared deeply about,- [OVERLAPPING]
Betty Liu: Yeah.
Danny Meyer: -how they design their places and
Danny Meyer: the systems approach of the chain industry,
Danny Meyer: whether it's fast food or,
Danny Meyer: or fast casual, 100 percent
Danny Meyer: of the leadership of Shake Shack came from
Danny Meyer: the fine dining industry and then learned
Danny Meyer: the systems necessary to scale it.
Danny Meyer: In the old days,
Danny Meyer: when I first got into the restaurant business,
Danny Meyer: the fine dining people didn't want to be
Danny Meyer: seen in a room with the chain people and
Danny Meyer: the chain people didn't want to
Danny Meyer: be seen in a room with us [LAUGHTER]
Danny Meyer: and so today we all know we need each other.
Betty Liu: Sustainability, you know, everyone
Betty Liu: talks about farm-to-table now and, you know,
Betty Liu: locally sourced ingredients, how do you see Union Square
Betty Liu: fitting in cities sustainability
Betty Liu: movement that's happening all over the country?
Betty Liu: [OVERLAPPING]
Danny Meyer: [inaudible 00:05:28] I mean, ever since Union Square Cafe
Danny Meyer: was born in 1985,
Danny Meyer: the reason I put it there is that there was
Danny Meyer: the best and biggest Greenmarket in all of New York City.
Danny Meyer: In fact, a lot of the reason that people want to cook in
Danny Meyer: our company is because they know
Danny Meyer: that we use ingredients that are,
Danny Meyer: not just local and seasonal,
Danny Meyer: but they are actually helping to sustain economies,
Danny Meyer: uh, out- outside of New York City.
Betty Liu: What's the food trend that you are most excited about?
Danny Meyer: You know what I get excited about more than anything?
Danny Meyer: When people make food I know,
Danny Meyer: but they make it better than I knew it could be.
Danny Meyer: It's way harder to make
Danny Meyer: your favorite BLT or your favorite pizza,
Danny Meyer: you, you know what an egg
Danny Meyer: sandwich is [LAUGHTER] in the morning,
Danny Meyer: but what if we could make
Danny Meyer: it better than you've ever had it?
Betty Liu: I know there's lines out of the door
Betty Liu: at your location- that's a hint,
Betty Liu: go grab an egg sandwich there, right?
Betty Liu: Is that- does that- [OVERLAPPING]
Danny Meyer: That's what I would do in the morning and at nighttime,
Danny Meyer: I'd get the best Rotisserie chicken in the city.
Betty Liu: Done there.
Betty Liu: All right Danny, great to see you.
Danny Meyer: Thank you Betty.
Nora Ali: Thanks to Danny Meyer, CEO of
Nora Ali: Union Square Hospitality Group
Nora Ali: with the New York Stock Exchange's Betty.
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