"Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel," writes New York restaurateur Danny Meyer in his memoir-cum-business book, Setting the Table, which HarperCollins will publish in October.

Meyer should know; for more than 20 years, he has been making guests feel welcome in his restaurants—of which there are now seven. The most famous of these—at least among book publishing types—is Union Square Café. The spot has become the unofficial company cafeteria for an industry that takes lunch very seriously. Among its regulars are agent Elaine Markson, author Jay McInerney, New Yorker editor David Remnick and plenty of FSG editors, as the restaurant is a block away from the publisher's office (in fact, Meyer estimates that the late Roger Straus ate some 3,000 lunches at Union Square Café).

The fact that Union Square Café has become a hangout for publishers, editors and agents is no accident. Meyer recalls that when he opened the restaurant, "I wanted it to feel like a club for the kind of people who'd be really interesting to learn from." Creating an environment where like-minded people gather is what Meyer, in his book, calls "extending the community." Meyer's philosophy is that if a publisher sees another publisher dining at a restaurant, he or she will assume "this is where publishers come to lunch." And nowhere is this strategy put into more concrete action than at Union Square: a recent afternoon's reservation log listed Grove/Atlantic head Morgan Entrekin, publisher Peter Workman, FSG's Jeff Seroy, Norton editor Jill Bialosky, S&S editor Geoff Kloske, and agents David Kuhn, Jane Dystel and Flip Brophy.

As many of the chapters in Setting the Table show, while Meyer worked to create a place for publishers to do business, he learned a number of lessons from those very customers along the way. For instance, Ecco editor Dan Halpern unintentionally had a hand in teaching Meyer that regulars come to expect certain things of a brand, and you'd be wise not to disappoint them. When Halpern booked a party at Meyer's upscale ribs place Blue Smoke during Book Expo one year, he didn't anticipate that Meyer would inadvertently schedule another book party—for one of Peter Workman's authors—at the same time, in the same area of the restaurant. "Our guests expected excellence and hospitality, and we were falling short," Meyer remembers. He had to disappoint one party by moving them to another room, an incident that was "embarrassing, chaotic and ugly."

Meyer also picked up other lessons from publishing folk, from how to learn from your mistakes to the importance of hiring people who will emotionally connect with your clientele. In fact, the publishing industry had such an effect on Meyer that it even played a role in determining the location of Union Square Café. A real estate executive told him the industry would soon be relocating to the downtown area to escape escalating rents in Midtown, so he opened his first restaurant in a formerly low-traffic area that, more than 20 years later, is within walking distance of the offices of FSG, Grove/ Atlantic, Houghton Mifflin, St. Martin's, Henry Holt and Bloomsbury.

Location, good food and good service are all part of Union Square Café's allure, but there's something else, too. As Meyer explains, "The publishing crowd gave this restaurant its soul from the very beginning and pretty much confirmed a halo of intelligence upon the restaurant that risotto alone never could've done, no matter how good the risotto was."

The Meyer Model
Hospitality is key: Virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction.

Strive for shared ownership: When guests talk about a restaurant as if it's theirs, they can't wait to share it with friends.

Invest in your community: A business that understands the power of creating wealth for the community stands a much higher chance of creating wealth for its own investors.

Know thyself: Before you go to market, know what you are selling and to whom. Be the best you can be within a reasonably tight product focus.

Be generous: It's almost always worth bearing a higher short-term cost if you want to win in the long run.