Video Transcript

00:13 Scott Gerber: What are your thoughts on healthcare? And in terms of where the country is going now, we obviously... In 2014 we'll potentially have a whole new slew of healthcare regulations for small businesses, for restaurants. As somebody who cares deeply about employees, do you see healthcare in this regard helping businesses, hurting businesses helping employees?

00:32 Danny Meyer: Well I feel the exact same way about healthcare as I did about anti-smoking legislation. We had been voluntarily eliminating smoking in our restaurants since 1990, which I did soon after my dad died of lung cancer. And I got completely tired of smelling like an ashtray when I came home from work and I also got completely tired of adjudicating between the last row of non-smoking and the last first row of smoking in our restaurants. And so, a good 10 years before this became city-wide law, we eliminated smoking, and we only got busier and busier and busier and more and more popular in the Zagat Survey. And I remember that restaurateurs raised holy hell when they said as soon as this becomes law in New York City, we're all gonna go out of business because everyone is gonna go to New Jersey for dinner instead of here or Connecticut or what have you. And that wasn't the case. I was a little bit concerned about it becoming law because I thought we were gonna loose one of our competitive advantages, as soon as everybody else had no smoking. That's exactly how I feel with healthcare. We've always offered health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance and all kinds of other benefits for our staff because it's the right thing to do, and I think that it's been an advantage at whatever expense and it does get expensive at the end of the year for sure.

02:01 Gerber: Do you think though that, incentivising your employees in this way outweighs the potential loss of semi-profitability?

02:08 Meyer: Well I think you get better employees who are more loyal and I think that attracts more customers. And I do think it's the right thing to do obviously or we never would have done it. Once it becomes the law of the land, we've just lost another one of our competitive advantages. And I hear peoples fear, but we've been able to make a really nice profitable sustainable business by bearing that expense, and if anything when more of us are bearing the expense it'll be fair for everybody.

02:41 Gerber: So I have to ask then, what do you say though to business owners that feel, they're going to have to down size staffs in their mind to remain profitable? Do you think that's more of a problem with their business?

02:49 Meyer: No, I think that's a problem with their fear. The same kind of thing that we heard from restaurateurs before the smoking ban. If I could tell you how many restaurateurs were just crying rivers... And bar-owners, this is gonna completely kill our industry. We've never been busier in this industry. And it's because of non-smoking that we are busier.