Union Square Hospitality Group Announces New CEO

Chip Wade to succeed Founder Danny Meyer as CEO.
Union Square sign

Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) announced that, effective September 6, Chip Wade, current President & COO of USHG, will become Chief Executive Officer, and will join the USHG Board of Directors. Danny Meyer, Founder and current Chief Executive Officer, will continue as Executive Chairman of USHG.

Chip Wade joined USHG as President and COO in May 2019. Since then, Chip and Danny have established and begun implementing a long-term growth plan for the company, including the assembly of an industry-leading senior leadership team.

Following business closures and a 90% reduction in staff in 2020, they worked together to reopen and rebuild USHG's restaurants. Stronger than ever, the company is now surpassing pre-pandemic performance levels, paving the way for future growth. Last year, USHG launched their newest restaurant, Ci Siamo, to critical acclaim and financial success, while simultaneously doubling the footprint of the emerging Daily Provisions brand. In the past year, Chip has also led Union Square Events and its expansion and relocation to Brooklyn's Industry City, as well as the growth of Hospitality Quotient, the company's leadership, learning and development consultancy. 

"Starting this company 37 years ago – with aspirations to open just one successful restaurant – and seeing the outstanding and inspirational role our colleagues have come to play in our industry - has been the personal and professional joy of a lifetime," said USHG Founder Danny Meyer. "When Chip joined us three years ago, our hope was that he'd one day be prepared to succeed me as USHG's leader, and that day has unquestionably arrived. He is an exemplary operational leader, wholly dedicated to our team members and committed to their professional and personal growth. We've partnered together and navigated the business through an incredibly challenging period emerging healthier than ever. This is the ideal time for me to hand Chip the baton."

Wade, 59, joined the USHG Executive team following a rich 30-year career in operational leadership in the hospitality industry. Most recently, Wade spent 17 years in leadership with Red Lobster and Darden Restaurants, where he oversaw all operations and development, drove best-in-industry people metrics, and enhanced financial performance for several of Darden's high-growth brands. 

He also served as Chief Operating Officer for Legal Sea Foods in Boston, Massachusetts, in which capacity he led all operations for the family-owned group's 31 restaurants and oversaw the launch of the Legal Test Kitchen concept. Earlier in his career, Chip worked in development and human resources for Carlson Restaurants Worldwide.

A Pennsylvania native, Chip earned his culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University, his B.S. from Widener University, and his M.B.A. from The University of Texas at Dallas. Chip also serves on the boards of Cracker Barrel Restaurants, Johnson & Wales University, Share Our Strength and Youth Villages.

"I am honored and humbled by today's announcement," says Wade. "Working with Danny over the past three years has been a career highlight, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished together. Day in and day out, I have the unique privilege of witnessing the power of hospitality and the success of an employee-first model, evident across all USHG businesses. As CEO, I'm looking forward to accelerating our growth through cultural, operational and financial performance, in addition to driving new business priorities."

In his role as Executive Chairman, Danny will continue to collaborate with the USHG leadership team on the creation of new restaurant concepts, consult on innovation and expansion strategies, and remain an active advisor and mentor to the USHG culinary, beverage and restaurant management leadership teams. Danny will continue as Managing Partner of Enlightened Hospitality Investments and Board Chairman of USHGAC (NYSE: HUGS). He also serves as Board Chairman of Shake Shack (NYSE: SHAK).