Chef Spotlight: Danny Meyer (Shake Shack)

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Danny Meyer is an famous American restauranteur and the CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group. His restaurant ventures reach far across many successful concepts, but his biggest claim to fame comes from being the founder of Shake Shack.

Currently the Union Square Hospitality Groups holds 21 different restaurant concepts (not including Shake Shack)

So what is Danny Meyer worth as the creator of so many successful concepts? Many sources point to the fact that Danny Meyer has a net worth of $400M or more. Most of that wealth has come from Shack Shack where Danny still serves as the Chairman and owns part of Shake Shack.

Shake Shack Story

In 2000, New York City, started a rebuild of Madison Square Park. Danny became involved and like any restauranteur, knew that the park could be improved with some good food. At that point, Danny and his team decided to open a hot dog cart to be run out of Eleven Madison, one of Danny’s other restaurants.

Shake Shack started slowly as this hot dog stand, but eventually the growth really snowballed. The early days had a very limited menu.

Three years later, the city began to take bids to open an new kiosk-style restaurant within the park, and the hot dog stand moved to a new location in the park. This time, Danny expanded the menu to include hamburgers, hotdogs, fries and milkshakes as the beginnings of what would become Shake Shack. The popularity quickly boomed, especially in the nice summer weather, and lines could stretch to over an hour.

In 2010, six years after the first kiosk opened, Shake Shack opened its first restaurant outside New York City at the Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach’s South Beach Neighborhood. Later that year, more stores were opened in the Theater District as well as the Upper East Side in New York.

By August of 2014, Shake Shack had expanded across many other states. Stores were popping up in Texas, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Deleware, Connecticut and California.

In 2015, Shack Shake went public through an initial public offering (IPO). The IPO launched with great success, and share prices went from $47 a share to $72 a share in the first day of trading under ticker symbol SHAK.

Today, Shack Shake continues to be publicly traded and growing locations. Its average unit volumes are some of the highest in the industry, and it boasts over 250 locations across the world.

Early Career

Danny Meyer is most famous for creating Shake Shack, but he had a long history of creating other restaurants before that. At age 27, Danny opened his first restaurant, the Union Square Cafe. His other establishments include Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 of MoMA, Maialino at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Untitled at the North End Grill, Marta, Porchlight, Greenriver, Union Square Events and Hospitality Qutotient.

Before joining the restaurant and hospitality businesses, Danny graudated from Trinity College in Hartford with a degree in political science. He spent a few years working on both local and national political campaigns before finding the restaurant industry. His first experience came as an assistant manager at Pesca in New York City. It only took him a year before he was ready to start his own restaurant.

Danny grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. His dad designed custom European trips, so Danny spent a lot of time as a kid traveling and trying new foods.

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