Daniel Meyer (born March 14, 1958) is a New York City restaurateur and the Founder & Executive Chairman of the Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG). Meyer was born and raised in a reform Jewish family in St. Louis, Missouri, where he attended John Burroughs School. Meyer’s grandfather was a prominent Chicago businessman and philanthropist, Irving B. Harris. Meyer attended Camp Nebagamon for boys as a child in Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin.
During college, Meyer worked for his father as a tour guide in Rome and then returned there to study international politics. Meyer was a Brother of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity while at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. After graduating from Trinity in 1980 with a degree in political science, Meyer worked in Chicago as Cook County field director for John Anderson's 1980 independent presidential campaign. Meyer gained his first restaurant experience in 1984 as an assistant manager at Pesca, an Italian seafood restaurant in the Flatiron District of New York City.
He then returned to Europe to study cooking as a culinary stagiaire in Italy and Bordeaux, France. In 1985, at age 27, Meyer opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe. Meyer's other restaurants and businesses include Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard, Shake Shack, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA, Maialino at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Untitled at the North End Grill, Marta, Porchlight, GreenRiver, Union Square Events, and Hospitality Quotient.
Union Square Events, USHG's catering division, operates several concessions at major sports facilities, including Citi Field, Saratoga Race Course, and Nationals Park. In 2010, Meyer suffered his first restaurant closure, Tabla. In a statement, Meyer blamed the closure on the specificity of the Indian cuisine offered by the restaurant. That same year, Meyer participated in a documentary called "The Restaurateur." In late 2011, Union Square Hospitality Group sold Eleven Madison Park to its chef Daniel Humm and front-of-house director, Will Guidara. In 2018, North End Grill closed.
In 2015, Meyer announced that he would eliminate tipping at all of his restaurants. The move increased prices by approximately 21 percent, leading to large portions of his staff leaving the company. Meyer co-wrote The Union Square Cafe Cookbook (HarperCollins, 1994) with his business partner, Chef Michael Romano. The book earned the IACP Julia Child Award for the best new cookbook by a first-time author and was followed up with the highly acclaimed Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe (HarperCollins, 2001).
Meyer also wrote The New York Times bestseller Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), which examines the power of hospitality in restaurants, business, and life. In May 2009, Meyer's restaurants released a cocktail cookbook, Mix Shake Stir (Little, Brown), featuring 140 recipes and tips, anecdotes, and photography.