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What Restaurateur Danny Meyer Learned From Governor John Hickenlooper

A former restaurant and brewery owner, Hickenlooper was scoping out New York City's original Shake Shack.

In the introduction of his talk to the Welcome Conference, which took place in New York City recently, famed restaurateur Danny Meyer used an expression he learned from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to set the tone of his speech:

"Everything has already been said, but not everything has been said superbly and even if it had been, everything must be said freshly over and over again," Meyer recounted Hickenlooper sharing while visiting the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. At the time, in 2005, Hickenlooper, then-Mayor of Denver, was looking to glean some insight into how to bring the same kind of energy to City Park.

The expression came from the Governor's history professor in college. Meyer, who runs several acclaimed NYC restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, stored it in his incredible hospitality-centered memory and used it to explain the success of Shake Shack and other endeavors. The burger chain now has locations in 13 states and several other countries.

The theme of Meyer's talk was the irrelevancy of being right. "None of us in this room has invented anything," Meyer explained. "We didn't invent hospitality. We didn't invent leading with your heart. We didn't invent being right or being wrong. But by doing it freshly and looking at each day as an opportunity to do it maybe a little more superbly than it had been done yesterday, there is beauty to that."

The restaurateur explained that being right is not the point in the hospitality business, doing the right thing is. Meyer ended his speech given to industry professionals with a life-lesson statement: "Being right is fucking irrelevant."

Life lessons and quotes aside, ten years later, is Denver ready for Shake Shack?

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