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Why restaurateur Danny Meyer loves supermarkets

He’s widely lauded in restaurant circles and tops the 2016 Power List of industry trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News, a sister brand to SN at Penton.

Shake Shack's Danny Meyer is interviewed by FMI CEO Leslie Sarasin at FMI Midwinter in Miami.Shake Shack's Danny Meyer is interviewed by FMI CEO Leslie Sarasin at FMI Midwinter in Miami.

But despite his identification with restaurants, Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, has a warm place in his heart for supermarkets, a fact he relayed during remarks at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami.

“I remember the smells of every food market and supermarket I visit,” he explained during a one-on-one interview with Leslie Sarasin, FMI’s president and CEO.

“I go to supermarkets, watch the butcher or deli man hand food to someone, and there’s a love connection and magic happening,” he said.

Meyer, the founder of brands including Shake Shack, said he watches how people shop for food in supermarkets.

“I like the role supermarkets have played in my life,” he said.

While the food retail and foodservice industries have long competed, Meyer said he doesn’t consider them to be rivals.


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“I don’t think we compete with grocery,” he said. “We’re not at odds with one another. No one comes to us just because they are hungry. They go to you to make sure they’re not hungry in their own home. They come to us because they don’t want to cook, they don’t want to do dishes, and they want a social environment.”

He pointed to the prepared foods trend at retail, saying, “Increasingly your stores will need eat-in as well as takeout opportunities. At Shake Shack, about 25% to 30% of food is not eaten there.”

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