Setting the Table

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer


At the age of 27, Danny Meyer decided to leave his six-figure sales job to follow his passion of being a restaurateur. He didn’t have much experience, but he was determined to find it. And thus, Union Square Café was born. Now, about 20 years later, Meyer is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns 14 distinctly different dining experiences throughout New York City. Now that he has plenty of restaurant experience, Meyer cultivated his experiences into the book Setting The Table, which shares his struggles and successes in an effort to encourage the reader to reimagine how he or she can incorporate pristine hospitality into their own business.


The Pro:

Meyer walks you through his past and the ideation and development of several of his restaurant offerings. Who doesn’t like to read about food? Meyer provides a genuine and relatable voice to readers whether or not they’re familiar with the restaurant industry. After all, isn’t everyone’s business ultimately about serving customers? His stories and the way he relates them to general business practices was extremely thought provoking and interesting. Regardless of the obstacles he faces, the book will also make you question whether you should consider entering the restaurant industry.

The Con:

When I was immersed in the book, I was interested. It had my full attention. But for some reason, it took me an unnecessarily long time to finish. While each short story within the book had its own unique message and lesson, it started to feel repetitive after awhile. The book should be shorter, the stories more concise, or the book restructured differently. While I can’t necessarily pinpoint exactly where it went wrong, the content wasn’t deserving of my struggles to finish it. Wasn’t for lack of talent on Meyer’s part, but seemed to fall flat through the editing process.

Important Takeaways:

Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.

An “athletic” approach to hospitality: sometimes playing offense, sometimes playing defense, but always wanting to find a way to win.

It’s human nature for people to take precisely as much interest in you as they believe you’re taking in them.

Setting the table: Understanding who needs to know what, when people need to know it, and why, and then presenting that information in an entirely comprehensible way.

A great leader must repeatedly ask himself or herself this tough question: “Why would anyone want to be led by me?”


I give this book a B. I don’t want to. I wanted to give this book an A+. When I first started reading it, it felt like an A+. But by the end, I resented the book for being so difficult to finish. This book will help you in business and especially if you work (or want to work) in the restaurant industry. There are a multitude of takeaways I will carry with me and I now have goals to visit Meyer’s restaurants. Unfortunately, this appeal couldn’t be maintained for the entire length of the book.