If you think that famed restaurateur Danny Meyer considers his renowned eateries—including Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and the rapidly expanding Shake Shack chain—his babies, you’re wrong. The legendary chef and entrepreneur has even greater loves at home: four children (Hallie, Charles, Gretchen and Peyton) and wife, Audrey, a singer and actress. The family resides in Gramercy Park, near most of Danny’s restaurants.
How do you two manage your daily routine? AM Teamwork. It’s lucky that we live in the neighborhood where Danny has his business and three out of the four children go to school. So in the mornings, we share in the responsibility of dropping them off and...how else do we manage? DM The truth of the matter is that Audrey takes on at least 90 percent of anything that has specifically to do with getting the kids here and there, to this doctor or that piano lesson. AM And then I fill Danny in on where he needs to be—and when!
So what’s dinnertime like at your house? AM Our sitter and I prepare the food. Danny’s the great weekend guy on the grill, or he’ll do the Sunday family pasta night. DM Generally what happens is that Audrey sits with the kids during an early dinner and then, if I’m lucky, Audrey and I have dinner together around 9:30. AM Well, I used to wait for Danny before eating, but more and more I’m not doing that. I’m eating with the kids earlier. Actually eating versus just sitting and talking. So sometimes I eat twice!
What’s your stance on fast food? DM If it’s good food that’s thoughtfully sourced and prepared, then it’s not the fastness that makes it bad. For example, our kids really enjoy Chipotle. But they have had the privilege of having freshly made food from fresh ingredients. Not that that’s an over-the-top luxury. The other fast food that we probably do twice a year is Popeyes fried chicken. AM Is that semi-homemade? DM It’s just good!
Any advice for parents of picky eaters? DM Don’t cave! Whether you have one kid or more than one kid, you should say, “This is what we’re having for dinner tonight.” And if they don’t eat it, they don’t eat it. When you start to do the special orders, it encourages more pickiness.
DINNER DESTINATION “We love to eat at Beppe(45 E 22nd St between Madison and Park Aves, 212-982-8422) or Lombardi’s(32 Spring St between Mott and Mulberry Sts, 212-941-7994), or order in from Frank’s Trattoria (371 First Ave between 21st and 22nd Sts, 212-677-7140) for old-style pizza and great Caesar salads.” Adds Audrey, “I also enjoy taking the kids to Blue Smoke(116 E 27th St between Park and Lexington Aves, 212-576-2232) when Danny’s away for their awesome mac and cheese. He doesn’t like going to his own places—he can’t relax!”
RESTAURANT FOR BRUNCH “Marquet Fine Pastry II(15 E 12th St between Fifth Ave and Broadway, 212-229-9313). They have amazing quiche, omelets, croissants and soup.”
SPECIAL OCCASION LOCATION “Our children go crazy for Momofuku Noodle Bar(207 171 First Ave between 10th and 11th Sts, 212-777-7773). We had our camp send-off dinner there for our daughter last summer and our 13-year-old twins’ birthday dinner there this fall.”
DESSERT SPOT “The chocolate chip cookies at Paradis (114 Fourth Ave at 12th St, 646-416-6709, paradistogo.com) are the best in the city—homemade, gooey, warm out of the oven. Schoolkids line up to get them before they sell out.”
CULTURAL ATTRACTION “Broadway shows. We just saw A Little Night Music(Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 W 48th St between Broadway and Eighth Ave; 212-239-6200), our Sondheim favorite.”
GUILTY PLEASURE FOOD “Anything our 16-year-old bakes from scratch with peanut butter, Graeter's Ice Cream (800-727-7425, graeters.com), which we get mailed to us, and the Concrete Jungle [vanilla custard, hot fudge, bananas and peanut butter blended together] at Shake Shack(go to shakeshack.com for locations).”
SPRING ACTIVITY “Jogging, scootering or biking along the East River from Stuyvesant Cove (FDR Dr at 25th St) down to the end of Manhattan. Our labradoodle loves to run with us, too!”
KIDS’ CLOTHING STORE “Space Kiddets(26 E 22nd St between Broadway and Park Ave, 212-420-9878) has brands that our tweens and teens seek. The boys love Quicksilver, Billabong and Junk Food, and the girls go for Splendid, Michael Stars, Hard Tail, Juicy Couture and Roxy. They also gift-wrap and use these great, reusable red shopping totes.”