Yesterday, I wrote about how TJ and I both arrived at the decision – independently, and then agreed to by the other – to take a period of time to focus on strengthening The Urban Grape instead of growing The Urban Grape. For me, it was a realization that came to me on the yoga mat, and that was reinforced by the spiritual and physical strengthening that happens during Shavasana.
Having only done yoga once in his life (and being nearly crippled by it in the process), TJ couldn’t relate to my analogy. He’s a wine guy – what he knows is that no matter how good the juice is, it still needs a little time in the bottle to age.
The other night he sought me out (on the couch…dressed in layers…and under two blankets…), and I could tell he’d had a revelation.
Turns out, it came in the form of an article Danny Meyer, the founder and CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, wrote for Inc Magazine, entitled “Go Slow.”
You can’t be in the hospitality business and not respect what Danny Meyer has built. Gramercy Tavern is our favorite restaurant in New York and we had one of the best lunches of our life sitting by the windows in the bar (right where that guy in the blue shirt is!), with Noah sleeping soundly in his stroller at six months old. I will never forget the first time I ate at Eleven Madison (no longer part of his restaurant group, but a shining example of the hospitality that so epitomizes his restaurants), and took TJ there years ago, where we had an exceptional dinner with wine service that was unparalleled. Now, Shake Shake in Madison Park is a favorite of the kids, and we’re all pretty excited that one is opening here in Chestnut Hill, just a few doors down from The Urban Grape.
To us, it seems like Danny Meyer is all about expansion and growth. We never knew that it took him 10 years to expand from one restaurant – Union Square Café – into his extensive and vastly populating restaurant group. Here are some of the gems from his article on the gift of going slow:
“It’s easy to think running a business has to be a sprint. If I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that…there’s time. During those first 10 years [of running Union Square Café], I learned the value of allowing a business to develop its soul. Soul happens almost as slowly as it takes for a baseball glove to break in; you have to play catch for a long time. Time helped Union Square Café achieve something very few businesses do, which is essentially, the sense that it mattered in people’s lives. The shelf life of innovation is about two seconds today. Even if you have the best idea, it’s going to get copied. The thing that cannot be copied is how I made you feel.”
Your business should matter in people’s lives.
You can’t copy how I made you feel.
These three ideas are what we will be focusing on over the next twelve months, if not longer. We’re going to break in the baseball glove, everyone. And it’s gonna be good.