How I Got Here: John Meadow

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here: John Meadow founder and CEO of New York-based LDV Hospitality

Related tags: Restaurant, London, Fine dining

The founder and CEO of New York-based LDV Hospitality, which operates Sette in London's Knightsbridge, on building a successful international restaurant and bar group.

Why restaurants?
They are the ultimate public forum. In terms of the guest experience, it’s about people coming together to celebrate food, wine, and life.  Overtime I have found my true joy in the day to day of our teams themselves. Every aspect of a restaurant truly illustrates the good and bad of humanity amplified. 

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Lenny Chu. Lenny immigrated to New York City from South Korea. He started as a taxi driver, opened his first Lenwich deli in 1989 in my neighbourhood, New York’s Upper West Side. From there he went on to grow a restaurant empire, and recently became a partner in the champion Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA’s first Asian American owner. I am fortunate to have benefited from an Ivy League education, but by far my greatest teacher was Lenny. He truly represents the American Dream.

What motivates you?
To keep creating so my team can grow as individuals and a collective whole.

What keeps you up at night?
Too much caffeine.

Coffee or tea?
Espresso, all day 

Typical Sunday?
Either Central Park or the beach for the first half of the day with my family, then a visit to the farmers markets and after I have friends over and I cook. It’s always pasta and barbecue with too much wine.

What was your dream job growing up?
I wanted to own the Plaza Hotel.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
I love to dance and would go out every night if I could.

Favourite holiday destination?
Forte dei Marmi in Italy.

What boxset are you currently watching?
Money Heist​.

Best business decision?
After my first epic failure, rather than turn in the keys I renovated on a budget and opened the original Scarpetta in 2008. We were nominated that year as the Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation. 

Worst business decision?
Getting my general contractor’s license and trying to build my first restaurants myself.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Learn to put others’ perspectives first: your staff, the guests, your investors. Anyone with an ego big enough to start his or her own restaurant has plenty of self confidence and a strong internal compass to begin with, the key is the humility to truly consider, create, and work for others that makes a successful restaurant.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
The economics, of course. More practically speaking, we are too fractured as an industry, there needs to be stronger lobbyists groups and alignment in order to have a real voice, as other industries do, with government. 

Bio

Born in California, Meadow started his career in hospitality working at Eleven Madison Park in New York City under the eye of restaurateur Danny Meyer. He opened his first bar in the city, called Local West, in 2004; and followed that in 2005 with the launch of his first restaurant, Gin Lane. In 2008, Meadow formed LDV Hospitality with the launch of Scarpetta, which has become the group's signature restaurant concept. Today, LDV operates more than 30 restaurants and bars in 10 cities across the world, including London. 

Related topics: People, Restaurant, Profiles

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