Meyer in 2010
March 14, 1958 |
St. Louis, Missouri
Meyer was born and raised in a reform Jewish family in St. Louis, where he attended John Burroughs School. Meyer worked for his father as a tour guide in Rome during college, and then returned to Rome to study international politics. After graduating from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 1980 with a degree in Political Science, Meyer worked in Chicago as Cook County Field Director for John Anderson's 1980 independent presidential campaign. Meyer later gained his first restaurant experience in 1984 as an assistant manager at Pesca, an Italian seafood restaurant in the Flatiron District of New York City. He then returned to Europe to study cooking as a culinary stagiaire in both Italy and Bordeaux. In 1985, at 27, he began his career as a restaurateur by opening Union Square Cafe.
Meyer’s restaurants and other businesses include: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard, Shake Shack, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA, Maialino, Untitled at the Whitney Museum, Union Square Events, and Hospitality Quotient. Union Square Events, USHG's catering division, operates several concessions at major sports facilities (Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, El Verano Taqueria, and Box Frites) including the Mets Citi Field, Saratoga Race Course, and Washington Nationals Park.
In late 2011, USHG opened North End Grill and a second location of Blue Smoke, both in Battery Park City. In 2011, the Union Square Hospitality group sold Eleven Madison Park to its chef Daniel Humm and front-of-house director Will Guidara.
USHG also founded and continues to organize the annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in NYC, which takes place in Madison Square Park and features regionally diverse barbecue from visiting pitmasters. The event benefits the Madison Square Park Conservancy.
Meyer co-authored The Union Square Cafe Cookbook (HarperCollins, 1994) with his business partner, Chef Michael Romano. The book earned the IACP Julia Child Award for the best new cookbook by a first-time author, and was followed up with the highly acclaimed Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe (HarperCollins, 2001). Meyer also authored the New York Times bestseller Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), which examines the power of hospitality in restaurants, business, and life. In May 2009, Meyer's restaurants released a cocktail cookbook, Mix Shake Stir (Little, Brown) featuring 140 recipes, along with tips, anecdotes and photography.
Meyer has served on the boards of Share Our Strength and City Harvest. In addition, he served as Co-Chair of the Union Square Partnership for 5 years  and as an executive committee member for NYC & Co and the Madison Square Park Conservancy.
Four of USHG’s restaurants have earned three stars from The New York Times and Eleven Madison Park was upgraded to four stars in 2009. Three of the five “Most Popular” restaurants in the 2011 New York Zagat Survey are part of USHG, including Union Square Cafe, which has held the #1 spot nine times. Eleven Madison Park held three Michelin Stars, while The Modern and Gramercy Tavern each hold one Michelin Star and Eleven Madison Park was designated Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux in 2008 and named one of S. Pellegrino’s “50 Best Restaurants” in 2010 and 2011.
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