Hallie and Danny Meyer on Learning from Each Other

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

In a special Father’s Day episode, Danny Meyer (Shake Shack, Union Square Hospitality Group) and his daughter Hallie Meyer (NYC’s Caffè Panna) share what they have learned from each other and how it has shaped their lives, particularly during the challenges of 2020. Both Danny and Hallie found their way to food by following their desire to do what they love. Hallie’s path ran parallel to her father’s and she describes how she made it her own. “I do credit you for that, Dad: for setting an example that I can do whatever I want with the business… that there’s not one way to do it,” she says. Danny shares how Hallie has equally taught and inspired him. “I’m so proud of the way she does business and the spirit that she brings to the business… Hallie had a courage and an entrepreneurial spirit and an ability to pivot that really inspired me,” says Danny about his daughter’s response to the pandemic. Hallie and Danny talk about building purpose into their business. For Hallie, that has meant creating a business with social justice at its core and creating partnerships with organizations like Drive Change and Emma’s Torch that connect youth and refugees with career opportunities in the food industry. For Danny, he remarks on his luck to be in his industry. “What a privilege to be in a business whose outcome is making feeling people feel better. Who couldn’t use more of that?”

Resources and Mentions:

Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer

CEO
CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes Union Square Cafe, and Gramercy Tavern. Meyer, his restaurants and chefs have earned an unprecedented 28 James Beard Awards. An active national leader in the fight against hunger, Meyer serves on the board of Share Our Strength and has long supported hunger relief initiatives including City Harvest, God’s Love We Deliver, and the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger.
Hallie Meyer

Hallie Meyer

Owner
Hallie Meyer has created two food startups, cooked at the American Academy in Rome and River Café in London, and worked for a year as an AmeriCorps team leader in a Bronx elementary school, where she also ran an afterschool cooking club that made ice cream. She opened Caffè Panna in 2016 at age 26.

Union Square Hospitality Group

Has created some of New York’s most beloved restaurants, cafes, and bars, which offer outstanding food delivered with its signature warmth and hospitality. Founded by CEO Danny Meyer with the opening of Union Square Cafe in 1985, the company now extends beyond the walls of its eateries. In addition to creating Shake Shack, USHG offers operational consulting and runs a multifaceted catering and events business, Union Square Events. With operations in New York, Las Vegas, and Washington DC, USHG has long supported its communities by supporting hunger relief and civic organizations. USHG holds 28 James Beard Awards and numerous accolades for its distinctive style of hospitality.

Caffè Panna

Caffè Panna is a neighborhood ice cream shop and coffee bar in Manhattan's Gramercy Park, proudly scooping our housemade ice cream. Caffè Panna is inspired by the cafes and gelato shops of Rome. Our goal is to bring that same welcoming spirit and all-day accessibility to the heart of New York City.

Drive Change

Drive Change has a mission to equip young people with the tools to succeed in the food service industry and become leaders in their community. We run an 8-month paid-fellowship for 18-25 year-olds, to train them in culinary arts, place them into living wage jobs, and hold our hospitality partners accountable to providing a workplace experience that is fair, supportive and equitable.

Emma’s Torch

Emma’s Torch, a non-profit social enterprise founded in 2016, provides top-notch culinary training to refugees and has helped them find meaningful careers in the food industry. We run our classes out of our restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and our cafe at the Brooklyn Public Library.

City Year

At City Year, we believe education has the power to help every student reach his or her potential. However, in high-poverty communities there are external factors and obstacles students are faced with every day that can interfere with their ability to both get to school and be ready and able to learn.