Trinity Alumnus Danny Meyer ’80, P’20 Shares Insight about Entrepreneurship and Success

St. Anthony Hall Hosts Restaurateur and Founder of Shake Shack for Annual Clement Lecture

​Hartford, Connecticut, May 12, 2017 – Trinity College alumnus Danny Meyer ’80, P’20 – restaurateur, best-selling author of Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, founder of Shake Shack, and chief executive officer of Union Square Hospitality Group – returned to Trinity to deliver St. Anthony Hall’s Clement Lecture on April 28. The lecture is named after distinguished Trinity alumnus and Hall member Martin W. Clement, Class of 1901. The event in the McCook Auditorium was attended by more than 100 people including students, members of St. Anthony Hall, parents, faculty, and staff.

Meyer began his discussion by expressing his love for what he does. “I don’t go to work; I get to play,” he said. “And I hope that for all of you.” He explained how, as an entrepreneur, he is always collecting knowledge and experiences, and how he was able to channel his experiences at Trinity like studying abroad in Rome into a successful career. Meyer acknowledged that many college students feel their major defines their postgraduate plans, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. As a political science major at Trinity, Meyer said he took the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) because that was what most students of political science did. It was not until a few years after graduating from Trinity that Meyer acted on his interest in food and hospitality and took a class in restaurant management in New York.

At the age of 27 Meyer opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe, and said he faced many challenges, including finding an architect and buying furniture. Meyer persisted despite some difficulties and Union Square Cafe recently received a three-star review in the New York Times. He discussed how he likes to name restaurants after their neighborhoods because urban planning and political science courses at Trinity gave him a better understanding of how to connect with a neighborhood and its community. For example, Shake Shack started with a public park to which Meyer wanted to attract more people and money. To this day each Shake Shack incorporates characteristics of the neighborhood and community, Meyer said. For example, the New Haven location includes materials from the old Yale Bowl. He went on to mention that the West Hartford location will be open by the end of the year.

Meyer ended his lecture with a sailing metaphor, saying that the journey from one location to another is never straight and that success is the same way. “Focus on what your magic is, and push yourself to use it and make it essential for others,” he said.

Katherine Kelter ’18, the head of alumni relations for St. Anthony Hall this semester and organizer of the event, explained why Meyer was chosen as the speaker this year. “As a Trinity alumnus, parent of first-year student Gretchen Meyer ’20, and member of the Board of Trustees, I thought it would be very inspiring to hear from someone who has a strong Trinity connection and has had so much success in doing what he loves in life,” Kelter said.

Written by Annelise Gilbert ’17