Where the Shake Shack Founder Loves to Travel

Where the Shake Shack Founder Loves to Travel


Danny Meyer, who has opened several restaurants in New York this summer, talks about some memorable trips — and where he would like to go next.

The restaurateur Danny Meyer at Maialino, in New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel.CreditMelissa Hom

Danny Meyer, the restaurateur and chief executive of the Union Square Hospitality Group, is well known for creating Shake Shack, the popular burger chain that started in New York City in 2004. This summer, he opened three dining destinations in the city, including Tacocina, an outdoor taco stand in Domino Park, on the East River in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

“For Tacocina, we wanted a simple menu, with basically tacos and drinks,” Mr. Meyer said. “The tortillas are made from a corn variety sourced in Mexico.”

The company, which includes the Union Square Cafe and Blue Smoke, operates 15 stand-alone restaurant brands in the city, with additional eateries in airports, museums and professional sports stadiums. Shake Shack has become a global phenomenon, with 180 locations from Chicago to Kuwait.

Below are edited excerpts from an interview with Mr. Meyer.

You grew up in St. Louis. What are some of your fondest memories of living there?

I loved the simplicity of life: falling asleep each night with my transistor radio on my pillow and then running down the driveway each morning, as soon as the morning paper was delivered, to find out whether or not the Cardinals or Blues had won last night’s game.

During your college years, you worked for your father’s travel company as a tour guide in Rome. What were some of your favorite haunts?

Back then, my budget was spent largely at pizzerias, coffee bars and gelaterie. My favorites were Da Ivo and Ai Marmi in Trastevere, and Da Baffetto near the Piazza Navona. For coffee, I loved Sant’Eustacchio and Tazza d’Oro, and for gelato, Giolitti.

What first attracted you to New York?

As an undergrad at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., I made frequent weekend pilgrimages to New York. I found the energy intoxicating. Each weekend typically involved seeing a play, going to a couple of restaurants, hearing jazz one night, going to the Museum of Modern Art or the Whitney Museum of American Art and maybe even running out to Belmont Park on Sunday to play the ponies.

The patio at Tacocina, with the Williamsburg Bridge in the distance.CreditPeter Garritano

What inspired you to open Tacocina, as well as Manhatta and Bay Room, the restaurant and event space in Manhattan’s Financial District?

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