Danny Meyer Recap: Hospitality Legend Speaks in New Orleans

When a 25-time James Beard award winner has something to say about hospitality, you listen. That’s why we attended hospitality legend Danny Meyer’s keynote speech on July 15 kicking off Tales of the Cocktail, a homegrown festival that’s gone on to become the premier cocktail festival on an international scale, drawing in millions of dollars in economic impact.

We were thrilled to attend Meyer’s keynote address, and even more pleased that he was able to answer a question just for NEW ORLEANS WILL. So, what did we ask, and what was his response? Keep reading for the full recap.

Hospitality is the Spirit of Welcome

danny meyer

Danny Meyer. (Photo courtesy Union Square Hospitality Group)

During his speech, Meyer gave a simple definition for what we aim for every day in our industry. “Hospitality is the spirit of welcome,” he said. We agree that welcoming everyone into our city is at the crux of tourism and hospitality, and it’s a definition we can refer back to time and again. He also discussed the hospitality quotient, which is the degree to which a person is happy to make other people happy. In several videos and character studies on our blog, we’ve seen firsthand how local New Orleanians working in the tourism industry are happy to make others happy – from Diane Riche at the Loews New Orleans Hotel to Clarence Richardson at the Sheraton to Larry Bailey, the winner of the 2015 French Market Bartenders and Waiters Race who used those very same words in our recent interview with him. 

A Place Unlike Anywhere Else

We knew exactly what we wanted to ask Danny Meyer during the address, so we submitted our question in advance as part of a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #AskDannyMeyer. “What do you like most about New Orleans?” was our question of choice. Sure, it sounds simple, but in a city as complex and unique as ours, we felt it would get an interesting response. Here’s what Meyer had to say:

“When you’re [in New Orleans], it’s unlike being anywhere else. There’s just something so genuine about the smells, the sounds, the tastes, the heat, the people – and I just love it here. I don’t think my stomach loves it here, but I love it here. Actually, my stomach does love it here. I eat at least nine places every day when I’m in New Orleans.”

We agree on all counts, Danny!