Today I talked to Will Guidara, author of Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect (Optimism Press, 2022).
Will Guidara was twenty-six when he took the helm of Eleven Madison Park, a struggling two-star brasserie that had never quite lived up to its majestic room. Eleven years later, EMP was named the best restaurant in the world. How did Guidara pull off this unprecedented transformation? Radical reinvention, a true partnership between the kitchen and the dining room—and memorable, over-the-top, bespoke hospitality. Guidara’s team surprised a family who had never seen snow with a magical sledding trip to Central Park after their dinner; they filled a private dining room with sand, complete with mai-tais and beach chairs, to console a couple with a cancelled vacation. And his hospitality extended beyond those dining at the restaurant to his own team, who learned to deliver praise and criticism with intention; why the answer to some of the most pernicious business dilemmas is to give more—not less; and the magic that can happen when a busser starts thinking like an owner. Today, every business can choose to be a hospitality business—and we can all transform ordinary transactions into extraordinary experiences. Featuring sparkling stories of his journey through restaurants, with the industry’s most famous players like Daniel Boulud and Danny Meyer, Guidara urges us all to find the magic in what we do—for ourselves, the people we work with, and the people we serve.
Christopher Russell (Host) spent 35 years working for some of the leading hospitality groups in the country, starting with the Clyde’s Restaurant Group in his native Washington D.C. and with Union Square Hospitality Group, Patina Restaurant Group, and Restaurant Associates in New York City. He is honored to have been director of restaurant operations at both Mets (Opera and Museum), and to have been entrusted with roles at Gramercy Tavern where he was a member of the opening service team and Union Square Cafe (16th Street) where he served as General Manager.
Christopher Russell, LP is a psychoanalyst in Chelsea, Manhattan.