Embracing change is a common thread among the MCOs on our list. When you’re the gold-standard group that so many others are chasing, it’s a lifeline.

Business owners in foodservice (Tom Colicchio and Jose Andres are admitted admirers) and beyond can recite the cornerstones of Danny Meyer’s brand: He wrote the book, literally, on putting employees first and impressing the guest.

But what keeps USHG in the spotlight is an urge to forge new territory for restaurants—even if it’s a flop. Although a venture Meyer invested in (co-run by his daughter) that delivered on-demand meals prepared by home chefs recently shuttered, others will continue to look where he leads. After all, he’s the guy who, with Shake Shack, showed how lucrative a chef-crafted fast casual can be, and dared to level compensation between front- and back-of-house staff with no-tipping policies. Now, servers at the revamped flagship Union Square Cafe are piloting Apple Watches as a real-time service enhancement tool. 

Concepts: Blue Smoke, Cafe 2 & Terrace 5, Daily Provisions, Gramercy Tavern, GreenRiver, Jazz Standard, Maialino, Marta, North End Grill, Porchlight, Shake Shack, Studio Cafe, The Modern, Union Square Cafe, Untitled