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on 25 July 2010
I don't know what happened in the 10+ hours it took me to fly from Amsterdam to Portland, Oregon, because I was absolutely engrossed in this wonderful book. I bought it because my husband and I are opening an agriturismo in northern Italy, but it isn't just a book for future restaurant owners. The author is such a lovely man with so much wisdom to share. Along with being an entrepreneur extraordinare, he's a terrific writer. His concept of hospitality is something we all can, and should, apply to our daily lives.
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on 1 February 2011
Whilst I am not a big fan of business "how to" books, this is a thoroughly engaging read. I am a self confessed "foodie" and this makes for a fascinating insight in to how truly difficult it is to run a successful restaurant. Meyer writes very well and has a fantastic line in self deprecation which is undoubtedly one of the reasons for his success.

Plenty of useful insights for any business person and I would say absolutely essential reading for anyone contemplating opening a restaurant.

Despite the book's narrow focus, I think that most people (even if uninterested in either business or restaurants) would find this book interesting and informative and a very easy page turner.
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on 16 October 2013
The US edition of Setting the Table, Danny Meyer's inspiring guide to success as an independent restaurateur, has a brilliant blue cover with a single saltshaker. The edition I bought does not and that is the only weakness with this useful guide to setting up your first shop, moving from one to two, from two to four, and from four to infinity.
The saltshaker is relevant because it is attached to a brilliant story about leadership from Meyer's early days in the mid-1980s when he had opened his first restaurant and was developing his business style.
Pat Cetta, an experienced restaurateur who informally mentored Meyer asked him to clear a table of everything except a saltshaker.
He asked: "Where is the saltshaker now".
"Right where you told me in the centre of the table."
"Are you sure it's where you want it?" I looked closely. The shaker was actually about a quarter of an inch off centre. "Go ahead put it where you really want it." I moved it very slightly to the centre. As soon as I removed my hand, Pat pushed the saltshaker three inches off centre.
"Now put it back where you want it," he said. I returned it to dead centre. This time he moved the shaker another six inches off. "Now where do you want it?"
I slid it back. Then he explained his point: "Your staff and your guests are always moving your saltshaker off centre. That's their job. It is the job of life. It is not your job to get upset. Your job is just to move the shaker back each time and let them know exactly what you stand for. Let them know what excellence looks like to you."
Wherever your centre lies, know it, name it, stick to it and believe in it, Meyer advises.
Later in the same chapter he offers great advice on how to hire managers and his belief in abundance. "The more we give, the more we get back."
He describes how Stanley Marcus, the great American retailer, taught him that the "road to success is paved with mistakes well handled" and provides a five point checklist.
He discusses how to use space in restaurants to ensure more happy customers. He explains how to gain investment, how to say no to opportunities. How to work with suppliers. How to build local connections. How to energise your local area and establish your business as part of the community.
The book is rich in detail about how it feels to grow from one business to two and how to set up a head office, when his company grew to have more than 1,000 employees.
While this is a book for every retailer to read, for those of you who love food and wine, it is a must read. His stories of his family's business and life ups and downs provides relevance for every independent business person.
Meyer has operated a hot dog stand and a Michelin three star restaurant. His current portfolio includes many of New York's top eateries. Setting the Table should be by your desk helping you build your business and shake up your ideas.

For more, see [...]
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on 19 November 2007
An inspirational book, we bought copies for all our management team. Meyer reiterates what the restaurant game is all about, and, while focussing on his unique approach, his lessons can be appiled to a multitude of businisses. Importantly its a really easy read for people who dont do management manuals!
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on 8 February 2013
I'm a couple of chapters in so far and enjoying it. It's always interesting to hear people's catering war stories. Some interesting parallels with Blood, Bones And Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.
One thing though - in the Kindle version, every instance of the word 'service' is spelled 'ser vice' with a gap in it. As you can imagine, in a book about catering, it's a pretty common word!
I'm sure his restaurants aren't run as sloppy as that.
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on 16 April 2014
I downloaded first in audio. Excellent. Inspiring. Even I listen to it just to motivate me as I am a manager in restaurant business myself. Listen the whole book seven times already and I bought the paperback just to take notes for reason if I ever want to open a restaurant. Any kind from a fast food to a white tablecloth fine dining or use different notes for recruiting, motivating, managing.
Excellent!!!!!
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on 14 June 2015
Excellent. I really liked the style and structure of writing, there aren't many books as this one. It will give you some deep insights about hospitality, which is not only for restaurant, but all the businesses out there. Really enjoyable to read, I got myself a punch of notes to use in my businesses. Thank you Danny Meyer, I can't wait for my next trip to NYC to try out some of his restaurants.
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on 28 June 2013
This is a very compelling case for how to deliver exceptional service no matter what the product. The logic is clear, the execution is clear, and the writing about it is clear. I found it a very useful book. Nothing is surprising but Danny Meyer comes across as a an exceptional leader and someone anyone should be happy to work for.
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on 28 July 2015
On the whole I really enjoyed reading this book, but a casual reference to animal cruelty that Danny Meyer participated in on page 33 really turned my stomach and I think about it every time I think about the book, which has ruined the overall experience of the book. Call it illogical, call it what you want, the effect is still the same for me. If that kind of thing doesn't bother you, then you are more likely to enjoy the book.
It talks about Danny Meyer's history in the restaurant business and the lessons he learnt. There are also a couple sections with in-depth information about the way he runs his business and the guidelines he follows. These are mainly in reference to training and working with staff and dealing with customers. There are also thoughts on suppliers and stakeholders.
He doesn't pretend to be perfect and talks about situations where customers have complained and how the situation has been turned around into a positive experience which is interesting and inspiring. Sometimes though customers can be impossible to please and the only solution is a parting of the ways, I find it hard to believe that Danny Meyer's restaurants have never experienced this and think it would have been useful to have ideas of how they deal with such a customer or how they deal with people who owe them money etc. rather than just focusing on situations where it is possible to turn things around and continue working with the customer/client.
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on 8 January 2014
This book is truly inspirational, Half Autobiography, Half Business Book, I think this book is an essential read for anyone in the Hospitality industry, Danny's Passion and Love for the Industry come though loud and clear in this book and theres some great lessons that can be learnt from it as well, BUY IT NOW!
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