This weekend, The New York Times Magazine features a monolithic profile of Danny Meyer, patron saint of the hospitality industry and the father of 8,000 Shake Shacks. While it doesn’t so much say anything new about Meyer as simply confirm that, yes, he really is that nice, that hospitable, and that busy, it’s a brisk and engaging read.
Following Meyer as he darts from restaurant to restaurant (at Untitled, he instructs the chef “to alter a B.L.T. so the bacon would stick out on either side. ‘That’s called turning up the ‘home’ dial,’ he explained”) and down to Miami to attend the Burger Bash and scout a location for the Shack’s second Miami location (“Of the 13 Shake Shacks, a majority are in parks or areas with lots of pedestrian traffic. Such locations create a boutique quality Meyer calls ‘Shackness'”), the story paints him as a man determined not to repeat the mistakes of his father, a hotel owner who was “unable to balance ambition and finances,” went bankrupt twice, destroyed his marriage, and died at the age of 59. The younger Meyer has avoided such a fate in part by expanding his restaurant portfolio slowly, and opening oodles of Shake Shacks, which yield an impressive 13.9 percent profit margin.
One place Meyer will never open a fine-dining restaurant is Las Vegas; he has “a bad reaction to … the synthetic deodorizers they pump through to eliminate smoke. Really, those smells almost sicken me.”
The smell — or Smell — of Shake Shack, on the other hand, is one that Meyer “breathes deeply” with great pleasure. Also, as you might expect, he has a perfect handshake: “He stood up from behind a desk, backed by a wall of books (sample title: ‘The Power of Nice’), took my hand and applied the ideal amount of pressure for the ideal amount of time: a better handshake than any I could recall.”
Again, not much news to report, but as unabashed beatifications go, it’s pretty impressive.