When a young restaurateur named Danny Meyer opened Union Square Cafe in New York City in 1985, it was an instant success, combining refined but unstuffy service with soulful food.

A positive review in The New York Times in early 1986 by itself triggered a 60% jump in business. Meyer soon had to learn the power of a complimentary glass of dessert wine to calm a guest irritated at the wait for a table.

He was very much a hands-on boss as the restaurant became more popular, interviewing each potential new employee — down to the lowest-level busboy — personally, and trusting only himself to judge whether they had the emotional intelligence to, for example, read whether the mood at a table was joyous or somber. Read More

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