How I Roll: Restaurateur and author Danny Meyer

Mar 8, 2020

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Welcome to How I Roll, TPG’s airport routine series, covering everything from how jet-setters prep for a trip to what they wear on the plane.  

We sat down with Danny Meyer, whose restaurant group, Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), comprises some of New York’s most beloved and acclaimed restaurants. His groundbreaking business book, Setting the Table, is a New York Times Bestseller. Meyer, who has been on TIME’s 100 “Most Influential People” list, lives in New York City with his wife and four children.

If you’ve ever found yourself indulging in Shake Shack for breakfast at JFK or LAX, or considered the food choices on board your Delta flight to be exceptional, you have Meyer to thank. His USHG partnered with the airline in 2016 to revamp the onboard menus on select routes.

You can catch him on an episode of Talking Points, chatting all things travel, tipping and more.

The itinerary

DM: I go to the West Coast a few times a year, often to get inspiration. It’s always business and pleasure wrapped into one!

Predeparture prep

TPG: What does you pre-travel to-do list entail?

DM: I like to get one last workout in and organize my to-do list so that I can make calls while waiting in the Delta Sky Club lounge.

TPG: Do you have any must-do activities around the house before leaving?

DM: Take my dogs, Louie and Wally, out for one last spin around the neighborhood. I owe that to them and to everyone else in the family!

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Packing strategy

TPG: Do you pack ahead of time, or wait until the last second? 

DM: I generally pack the night before a trip, but I’ll have already put together a mental list into what kind of clothing I’ll need for the purpose of my travel.

TPG: Are you an over or under packer?

DM: Strategic light packer.

TPG: What kind of suitcase do you carry?

DM: Usually just a shoulder bag if I can swing it.

TPG: What are your carry-on essentials? 

DM: iPad, phone, Powerbeats, Warby Parker reading glasses, and several phone chargers. And a prayer that the in-flight Wi-Fi is working!

TPG: Do you carry-on or check your luggage?

DM: Carry-on, whenever humanly possible.

TPG: What’s your go-to travel outfit? 

DM: Allbirds, jeans, a fleece vest. I like pockets and layers.

Before boarding

TPG: Do you get to the airport early or with just enough time to spare? 

DM: If it’s just me, then I go really early. I love having time to make phone calls, write emails and read. I also love checking out food options to keep up with good ideas. And I don’t enjoy the stress of running late. If I am traveling with family, we don’t go quite as early since they don’t enjoy airports as much as I do.

TPG: How do you kill any extra time at the airport? 

DM: I’ll head to the lounge to catch up on work, or if I’m lucky enough to be at an airport with a Shake Shack, I’ll always go say hi to the team there.

TPG: What preflight snacks, if any, do you stock up on?

DM: If I am headed to the airport from home, then I’ll usually stop into Daily Provisions for my favorite cappuccino. If I don’t have time, then it’s usually a light bite in the lounge. I mostly fly Delta, and rarely leave their flights feeling hungry.

In-flight routine

TPG: What’s your preferred seat on a plane — window or aisle?

DM: Aisle.

TPG: What’s your go-to in-flight beverage?

DM: Water with no ice.

TPG: Would you rather work or relax during the flight?

DM: Long flights are an opportunity to quietly get work down without interruptions, which in itself is more relaxing than my average day. Sadly, I’m one of the worst plane sleepers. I covet the time alone to read and to write. I also multitask by catching up on podcasts.

TPG: What’s your IFE guilty pleasure?

DM: Playing Lexulous – an online word game. I usually have three games going at once.

Everything else

TPG: Overall, do you enjoy traveling?

DM: YES! The joy and discovery I get from travel, especially understanding and learning about other people and cultures through how they eat fulfills me.

TPG: How often are you on the road?

DM: On average, I’m on the road about a week of each month.

TPG: Any travel pearls of wisdom or hacks?

DM: Clear and Global Entry — anything to speed your way through security.

Read more: How I Roll: Samantha Brown, Emmy-winning TV Host

Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

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