Lunch with Danny Meyer: 'Restaurants Are Nothing If Not Relationships'

'The thing about this business is you can enter it with almost no experience, which is what I did'
Rob Rosenthal's Hot Lunch Program: Danny Meyer

Renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer joins host Rob Rosenthal for lunch in The Daily Meal kitchen.

Danny Meyer is the inaugural guest of The Daily Meal’s new series, Rob Rosenthal’s Hot Lunch Program

New York restaurateur Danny Meyer has three decades of restaurant experience under his belt — he opened Union Square Cafe in 1985, when he was 27 — but one of the biggest reasons for his success is a simple one: “My favorite thing to do in the world is watch other people eat.”

Danny recently joined Rob Rosenthal, host of The Hot Lunch Program, for what he confirms is the first time someone has ever made him lunch on camera.

As the inaugural guest, Meyer joins The Daily Meal from only a few blocks away in Union Square, where Union Square Hospitality Group is headquartered, and where Union Square Cafe will soon celebrate its 30th birthday. Soon after that, it will bid goodbye to 21 East 16th Street and move elsewhere — but hopefully not very far.

“I’m looking like crazy for another location, hopefully in the same neighborhood,” says Meyer. “Restaurants are nothing if not relationships, and the number of greenmarket farmers and lunch regulars that adore Union Square Cafe. And then there’s the name, of course.”

So long as the next iteration of Union Square Cafe is not too far away, Meyer says, “I don’t view it as death, I view it as the next chapter.”


Over hot sandwiches — though Rob didn’t toast the bread, as Danny would have — the restaurateur also talks about how his childhood in St. Louis set the tone for his career, why his nickname was once “Mayo,” and his preferred recipe for the ideal Negroni.