Every Friday I dig into the archives and dust off an old post. If you haven’t read it, it’s new to you!
Last week I revisited one of the better books on hospitality I’ve read in the last few years. Setting the Table by Danny Meyer is part autobiography, part how-to guide. Meyer is a crazy-successful restauranteur in New York City, and STT is the story of how it all came together and – more importantly – stays together.
Meyer recounted a time earlier in his career, when he was struggling to develop the skills he felt like he needed as a leader. Here’s his conversation with a mentor named Pat Cetta:
I bemoaned the fact that I was failing to get any kind of consistent message across to my staff members regarding standards of excellence. Waiters and managers (at least half of whom were older than I) were continually testing me and pushing the limits, and this was driving me crazy.
Pat pointed to the set table next to us. “First,” he said, “I want you to take everything off that table except for the saltshaker. Go ahead! Get rid of the plates, the silverware, the napkins, even the pepper mill. I just want you to leave the saltshaker by itself in the middle.” I did as he said, and he asked, “Where is the saltshaker now?”
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