In a decision that surprised the hospitality world, veteran restaurateur Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group has decided to sell the crown jewel of his empire: Eleven Madison Park.
The announcement came just months after the Five-Star restaurant received the coveted 2011 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant. However, Meyer’s not selling his famed eatery to just anyone. He’s handing it off to Eleven Madison Park’s chef Daniel Humm and general manager Will Guidara. Diners won’t likely see much of a change at the restaurant, considering Humm and Guidara have been running Eleven Madison Park since their arrival in 2006. And this isn’t the first entrepreneurial move the duo have made recently. Under the banner of their recently formed restaurant group Made Nice, the chef and GM are heading up the entire food program at the upcoming NoMad Hotel.
Coinciding with the transfer of the restaurant is Humm and Guidara’s widely anticipated Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook, which came out on (of course) 11/11/11. Just a day after the official sale of the restaurant, foodies were reading Danny Meyer’s forward in the book, where he explained that he couldn’t accept that the three could be “colleagues at Eleven Madison Park and rivals elsewhere at the same time.” And so, the only logical solution “was to take a page from so many great European restaurants — where the original patron hands the restaurant over to his protégé.” Chances are, frequent diners won’t notice that anything has changed at Eleven Madison Park, considering the restaurant’s 130 employees are sticking with dream team Humm and Guidara.
Photo Courtesy of Francesco Tonelli