Meyer is the man behind some of New York's most beloved restaurants, including Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern, and the ever-expanding Shake Shack.
Meyer was born and raised in St. Louis and then headed east to Trinity College in Connecticut. He went on to Europe after graduation and worked in the kitchens of a number of restaurants. He returned to the US and after a stint as an assistant manager at New York seafood restaurant, Pesca, he decided to open his first restaurant: Union Square Cafe. The restaurant broke new ground by divorcing fine dining from fuss: the service was warm and relaxed, not stiff; the food was sophisticated but unaffected. While reasonably successful from the start, the restaurant only really took off in 1988 after Meyer installed Michael Romano as chef. (Only then did the restaurant cinch its three-star Times rating, too.) In 1994, Meyer more or less replicated the USC formula-gracious but unpretentious service, gourmet but unflashy food-and opened Gramercy Tavern, with an up-and-comer named Tom Colicchio behind the stove. Since then, Meyer has opened over 25 restaurants, only one of which, Tabla, has closed. He has since deviated from the USC formula, and the restaurants now range from casual burger-joint Shake Shack to ultra-sleek Eleven Madison Park. Meyer and his company, Union Square Hospitality Group, are the recipients of 24 James Beard Awards.
Meyer met his wife, Audrey, during his time at Pesca in the '80s-she worked as a waitress there. The couple has four kids (Hallie, Charles, Gretchen, and Peyton) and live in NYC. [Image via Getty]