Last night at the City Harvest gala, Danny Meyer and more than 30 of his colleagues from Union Square Hospitality were honored for the work they've done to feed New York's hungry. Grub Street spoke with Meyer, who had just attended the funeral for the Modern's Hwangbum Yang ("It was so sad. I can't even tell you."), yet found himself brought to much happier tears at Cipriani when, as he says, "I got to watch our team be recognized for all the hard work that usually I get credit for, when I'm really such a miniscule part of the picture." It's this precise graciousness that provoked Grub Street to play a little game: Is there anything at all that will make Meyer — super-polished restaurateur, "Mr. Hospitality," and everyday mensch — actually talk some smack?
How do you feel about people who don't pick up their dog shit?
A great motto in life is: Leave your campsite neater than you found it. I learned that at camp, and I try to live by it.
Thoughts on horrible tippers?
They've obviously never been a server, and they obviously don't understand that in the American tipping culture, customers are the primary source of income for servers. But that's nothing a little bit of education couldn't help.
What is that? [Grub explains]. Well, again, it's human nature to want to express your feelings. Some people find it emotionally safer to do that with the protection of not having to do it to your face. The Internet provides comfort for those people.
Nauseating. I have a strategy to gauge that in advance. If the windows are open and the temperature is 60 degrees or lower, just let it pass by. I also find that there's a correlation between taxi-cab owners and missing hubcaps. Those can drive right on by, too.
People eating on the subway?
I'd much rather they'd eaten at one of my restaurants. Do people floss on subways, too?
Women who swear like sailors?
I have no judgment about that.