How Not to Close a Restaurant in New York City
In 1985, at age 27, Danny launched Union Square Cafe in New York City. Danny Meyer is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, and his restaurants and their chefs have earned an unprecedented seventeen James Beard Awards. He is the coauthor of The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe, and Setting the Table, and he lives in New York City.
Question: What’s the secret to building and maintaining a brand, especially in New York City?
Danny Meyer: I think the key has been to start every restaurant with a sharp point of view. So we go into each restaurant knowing what it is we’re trying to do. It’s like writing a story but then here’s where it’s different from a story, it’s a highly interactive experience. So the people who come to the restaurant may like part of your original point of view but they may want you to do things a little bit differently and so then it really becomes an ongoing dialog where you’re listening to how the people who like your restaurant would like it even more if only you shifted a little bit.
So you’re having a dialog with your guests, you’re having a dialog with your staff. I think it’s really important to keep the staff as engaged as possible because at the end of the day the restaurant itself is inanimate object and it’s the human beings who work there that are the reason that people like you either want to come back or not. There is a fine line. I’m knocking on wood right now but in 24 years I’ve never had the experience of closing a restaurant. The real fine line is that you’ve got to give people enough of the things they returned for but you’ve got to give people enough new things so they’ll come back as well. If you take away all the reasons that they came back, they may not want to return, but if you don’t change things, they may not want to return. So there’s the art.
Question: Does social media strengthen or weaken a brand?
Danny Meyer: I think what any of the new media is, is actually very old, which is that it’s human nature to want to recommend things to people you like and to want to denigrate things to people you like that you didn’t like. I think that’s always been human nature; we used to call it word of mouth. Now it’s word of Yelp or word of Twitter, or whatever. So it’s really not a new thing, but I think that anyone who has any kind of a business who’s not paying attention to what the world or what their customers are saying, is making a mistake.
Now, it’s equally important that if you’re a radio you want to have antenna that are sharp enough to pick up the stuff that’s out there. But if you’re antenna are so sensitive that they pick up everything, you’re going to pick up static as well that may not be particularly useful. So it’s such a critical thing to learn to tune in the constructive stuff and tune out the stuff that’s just hurtful.
Question: Eleven Madison Park is 11 years old and recently got raised to four stars by the New York Times. Why?
Danny Meyer: The restaurant will be 11 years old this year and I think the secret of any restaurant is you’ve just got to stick at it. You’ve got to stick to the things that you believe in and you’ve got to listen really carefully. In the case of Eleven Madison Park, we listened very, very carefully and we realized that our early point of view wasn’t necessarily on the money. Rather than people using it when we first opened it as a brasserie, which is pretty much what I had envisioned it as, they said instead of saying this is the best brasserie food I’ve ever had in my life, which it would have been if they wanted to use it as a brasserie, they said this food doesn’t seem to be stacking up against this gorgeous decor.
So in order to make Eleven Madison Park into a restaurant that could fulfill its greatest potential, we had to not only listen to our guests but we had to listen to the architecture because the architecture, the bones of that building are not going to change. It’s a gorgeous, beautiful space with lights streaming in. So I feel like we finally gave the space the restaurant it deserved.
Recorded on September 17, 2009
After 24 years without a closing, Union Square Hospitality group CEO Danny Meyer thinks the key to maintaining a brand is to have a sharp point of view.
The Spilhaus Projection may be more than 75 years old, but it has never been more relevant than today.
- Athelstan Spilhaus designed an oceanic thermometer to fight the Nazis, and the weather balloon that got mistaken for a UFO in Roswell.
- In 1942, he produced a world map with a unique perspective, presenting the world's oceans as one body of water.
- The Spilhaus Projection could be just what the oceans need to get the attention their problems deserve.
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
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