Why Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer makes all of his new executives bus tables

Danny meyerSpencer Platt/GettyUnion Square Hospitality Group founder and CEO Danny Meyer at Shake Shack’s IPO.

Danny Meyer’s burger chain Shake Shack has experienced incredible growth since its launch in 2001.

It now has more than 60 locations worldwide, and its share price has doubled since the January IPO.

And while Shake Shack has only recently become a cash cow, Meyer has long been a member of New York City’s elite restaurateurs.

As the founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), he oversees highly acclaimed restaurants like the Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and most recently, Marta. He’s also a winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurateur of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year awards.

After 30 years in the restaurant business, Meyer has built an empire that is expanding fast, and he doesn’t want his USHG executives to lose touch with their restaurants. That’s why he has a training program that could be called the “ultimate internship,” Chief Restaurant Officer Sabato Sagaria tells Crain’s New York Business.

When Meyer hired Sagaria, he had him spend two months doing every job, including busing tables and cooking, at each of USHG’s nine full-service restaurants.

“Danny said to me, ‘I want you to understand what makes each restaurant unique and who brings it to life every day — just absorb it,'” Sagaria tells Crain’s.

Meyer decided that it worked so well that he would have all USHG senior hires go through a version of it.

As Jeffrey Zurofsky, CEO of celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s restaurant Riverpark and sandwich chain ‘wichcraft, tells Business Insider, many top chefs and restaurateurs have firsthand experience in every aspect of the restaurant business. Meyer has found a way to condense a career’s worth of experience into a couple months to keep his growing business from losing touch with its roots.

“I only regret our not having done this as effectively and thoroughly in the past,” Meyer tells Crain’s.

NOW WATCH: Here’s what happened when I ordered Shake Shack’s secret menu burger

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