We’re in the business of creating delight for people. My partner Michael Romano, who was the chef at Union Square Cafe for 20 years, has an old comment card on the bulletin board in his office. It’s a cartoon with three panes. In the first pane, there’s a person opening the door to Union Square Cafe with a frown on their face because they had a bad day, in the second pane they’re eating a burger at the bar, being served by one of our bartenders and their face has a straight line, in the third pane they’re walking out with a smile on their face. Whatever happened to you before you came in we can’t control. Whatever happens in pane two is our responsibility. How we do that all starts with how we hire. The people we hire have to be really good at what they do, but they also have to have a high “HQ”—which means they are people who are at their happiest when they’re making other people feel good. There are plenty of good cooks out there, but there aren’t plenty of really good cooks who are primarily cooking for your pleasure. If you look at the people who work in our restaurants, I think you’d see two things: The first is that our staff is focused on their work, the second is that they are having fun with each other. So the staff exudes that spirit which is in turn quite attractive to the patrons. —
Ditto for how I try to hire and build teams.