Restaurants are like kids. You hope you understand their innate gifts, and then you let them realize their aspirations.
If somebody doesn't want to cook at home or has more family members than they have room for, then it's great to be in a city that's got restaurants that are actually busy on the holidays.
'Fine casual' means taking the cultural priorities that fine dining, at its best, believes in.
People who have come to appreciate well-sourced and well-cooked food refuse to pay too much for food that they wouldn't want to pay anything for.
Ninety-five percent of all brussels sprouts come from California.
In order to encourage the cattle farmers to raise a herd of all-natural cattle, which is a several-year process, they have to know that it's not just Shake Shack that wants to buy it. They have to have other buyers who are willing to pay more for all natural.
At my restaurants, we have training drills before every meal. We talk about what we did yesterday that was great and what we can improve today.
I gasp for air if I don't get to breathe Italian air once a year.
It's the job of any business owner to be clear about the company's nonnegotiable core values. They're the riverbanks that help guide us as we refine and improve on performance and excellence. A lack of riverbanks creates estuaries and cloudy waters that are confusing to navigate. I want a crystal-clear, swiftly flowing stream.
I feel like not knowing Joe Torre is a hole in my New York experience.
My history has been to grow the roots as deeply as you can before going on to the next thing. That's why it took 10 years to go from Union Square Cafe to Gramercy Tavern, and another 10 years to go from Blue Smoke's first location to its second, and five to go from Shake Shack 1 to Shake Shack 2.
Human nature doesn't change. When enough people are comfortable enough financially, there is going to be human nature that wants to spend more money on better quality and, to some degree, status symbols as well.
More and more, museums will look at restaurants and chefs differently - as if they are curating art.
I just think the best way for me to be greedy is long-term greedy.
One of the things that may get lost among all the hubbub when a company is 'going public' is that the business can now be owned, in part, by its greatest fans.
I run in London, in San Francisco - any city that's got a waterfront or park.
You wouldn't have the same art on the walls at every restaurant or the same waiter uniforms. Neither should you have the same service style at every restaurant.
Sometimes, early in their careers, chefs make the mistake of adding one too many things to a plate to get attention. If a chef is just coming up with wiz-bang gimmicks on their plate, that has nothing to do with bringing real pleasure to people.
I learned that you shouldn't take your most esoteric concept and fit it into the largest space with the highest fixed costs. It puts too much pressure on the restaurant to hit grand slams every day when there just aren't enough people who want to watch that sport.
If someone said, 'You've got to eat your next two meals at American fast-food restaurants,' I would do one meal at Chipotle and one meal at Popeyes fried chicken.
You can't let challenges argue you out of doing what you know is the right thing.
Shake Shack started off as a summer hot dog cart in Madison Square Park. It was not meant to be a company - it was completely accidental. It started off as an expression of community building.
Some people are near- or farsighted - I'm thorn-sighted. The thorns on the rose are in really sharp definition for me, the rose petals a little fuzzier.
I've been in love with Washington ever since renting my very first apartment there many years ago while working as a Senate intern.
I think that more and more and more really talented restauranteurs and chefs from the fine dining world are going to try their hand at fine casual. They're going to say, 'Why not us?'
Restaurants and chefs have become followed by such a broad swath of the public, in a way that used to be reserved for sports stars, movie stars, and theater actors. Restaurants are in the firmament of today's common culture.
My dad gave me the gene to enjoy cooking, and to enjoy consuming good food and wine.
Gramercy Tavern appeared on the cover of New York Magazine the day we opened, and it was five deep at the bar with people who were not necessarily here to dine. They just wanted to kinda sniff out the hot, new restaurant.
I trust that McDonald's can find a way to sell all-natural chicken without raising their prices; we did that at Shake Shack. It is more expensive, and we took a slight margin hit, but we did it. And if we can do it, I know that much bigger companies can.
Long before Starbucks popularized the phrase 'the third place' - somewhere to interact outside of work and home - it was neighborhood restaurants that helped to define places like Union Square.
I don't think there's going to be sustainable demand for restaurants that force you to spend hours there.
The great thing about capitalism is that it's a system that works.
One of my great teachers was the late Jean-Claude Vrinat of Taillevent in Paris.
I opened Union Square Cafe when I was just 27 years old, and my first hope was simply that it would stay in business. My higher hope was that in its lifetime, it might grow to play an essential role in the lives of its stakeholders.
There are three things that people pick up on the instant they walk into your home on Thanksgiving. They will be able to feel the human energy. They'll smell the food. And they will see, instantly, the table.
The cooking standards for Italian food are less demanding than for French. All you need are some fried mozzarella and five pastas, and you're in business.
Hospitality is almost impossible to teach. It's all about hiring the right people.
Constant, gentle pressure is my preferred technique for leadership, guidance, and coaching.
Essentially what's going to determine how you succeed in New York is how people feel about the space, how delicious the food is, how they perceive the value and, most important of all, how they feel treated. My understanding is Stephen Starr is exceptionally good at all of this and his ability to create a transporting experience.
In one respect, it's easier to open a restaurant in New York because you get more media attention than anywhere else. Almost everyone will try a new place once, irrespective of the reviews, because it's a spectator sport.
Today, it's almost the outlier if people are not photographing what they ate and then sharing that in real time.
Steak and its accompaniments - wine, vegetables, potatoes and generous desserts - is a primal source of pleasure to which many people can relate.
Wearing a baseball cap or sleeveless shirt in a white-tablecloth restaurant is rude and makes other diners upset, just like someone on a cellphone.