Danny Meyer was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up loving to cook, remembering practically every meal he had ever eaten, adoring festive family get-togethers, longing to try new restaurants and return to old favorites. During Danny’s childhood, his father, who was in the business of custom-designing driving tours through the French countryside, often hosted children of the Relais & Chateaux patrons with whom he did business. As a result, many meals at his St. Louis home had a French touch and always included a bottle of red wine.
After graduating from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, with a degree in Political Science, Danny landed in Chicago and took a job as Cook County Field Director for John Anderson’s 1980 presidential campaign. At the conclusion of the campaign, Danny moved to New York City and joined Checkpoint Systems, an emerging growth company that manufactures electronic anti-shoplifting devices. He was the company’s leading national salesperson during his 3 years there.
Pursuing his true passions for food and wine, Danny gained restaurant experience in 1984 as an assistant manager at Pesca, a seafood restaurant in the newly named “Flatiron District” of New York City, and then traveled to Europe to become a culinary stagiere in both Italy and Bordeaux. In 1985, at the age of 27, Meyer opened Union Square Cafe, pioneering a new breed of American eatery where imaginative food and wine are accompanied by caring hospitality, comfortable surroundings and outstanding value.
A critical success from the outset, Union Square Cafe has garnered The New York Times’ coveted three-star rating, and has reached the top of the Zagat Survey, earning the guide’s #1 ranking as New Yorkers’ Most Favorite Restaurant in both 1997 and 1998. The restaurant is widely noted as having sparked the Union Square neighborhood’s dramatic resurgence over the past decade.
In July 1994, Danny opened Gramercy Tavern with Chef/Partner Tom Colicchio. Gramercy Tavern is a revival and renewal of the classic American tavern, offering new American cuisine and warm hospitality in an historic landmark building. The restaurant was quickly awarded three stars in The New York Times. In 1997, it earned the #4 post in the Zagat Survey- an unprecedentedly rapid rise to the top and a ranking it maintained in 1998.
Currently, Danny is in the midst of opening yet two more restaurants – Eleven Madison Park and Tabla. Overlooking 150-year-old Madison Square Park, the restaurants are both slated to open in summer of 1998. Eleven Madison Park will feature New York cuisine with a French soul, while its neighbor Tabla will spice outstanding American seasonal products with the exciting flavors of India. Danny is an active leader in the fight against hunger, serving on the boards of Share Our Strength and City Harvest. In 1994, Danny received Share Our Strength’s Humanitarian of the Year Award and in 1996, he won the IACP Restaurateur of the Year Award of Excellence. Danny and his restaurants have earned an unprecedented five James Beard Awards, including: Outstanding Restaurant of the Year; Humanitarian of the Year; Who’s Who of Food & Beverage Outstanding Service; and Best Restaurant Graphic Design.
Danny co-authored the Union Square Cafe Cookbook (Harper Collins 1994) with Union Square Café Chef/Partner, Michael Romano. The book earned IACP’s Julia Child Award for the best new cookbook by a first-time author and is already in its seventh printing.
Danny spends his free moments with his wife Audrey and three young children, Halli