It was an interesting comparison to their trip to Shake Shack — another gem in Danny Meyer’s empire. While entirely different restaurants, both Shake Shack and Blue Smoke are centered on the same principles of hospitality, customer service and quality food that have brought Meyer such success. One of the ICE students in the class, Maria Sideris, said, “To me, he is definitely a genius, and not just because he makes money, but because the people we’ve met that work for him are just so inspired by him.”
At Blue Smoke, they met with General Manager Kari Matthews, who gave them a tour of the restaurant and sat down to answer their questions. Matthews started as a hostess at the restaurant and worked her way up to GM, the top front-of-house position. Now she manages the entire restaurant. It was a great inspiration for the students to see how one person worked their way up to management. But more than that, it was also a chance to get an inside view of a successful culinary business.