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Danny Meyer says this is the biggest challenge facing the restaurant industry

  • Minimum wage, high rent or the cost of food aren't the biggest challenges for restaurants, says Danny Meyer. Competing for the customer's time is.
  • He said that diners are "cramming more experiences into the same number of hours" and that they way they eat and who they eat with is changing.
  • "We're shifting as more and more people can take out their smartphone and they press and app that allows the food either to be picked up right there or to be delivered," Meyer said.

For Danny Meyer, the biggest challenge confronting restaurant owners isn't the minimum wage, high rent or the cost of food.

It's the customer.

"I think the biggest challenge we face is a different type of computation than what people always told me about when I first got into this business," Meyer told CNBC's "Power Lunch" Tuesday. "It's not that there are so many restaurants that you are competing against. I think you're competing for people's time."

Diners are "cramming more experiences into the same number of hours," Meyer said, adding that the way consumers eat and who they eat with is changing.

This change in consumer habits is why Meyer has been investing more money in technology.

"As far as I'm concerned, when I got into the business we had two kinds of technology: cash register and, when Union Square Cafe opened, it was the first year that the electronic point of sale system was in use," he said.

The CEO of Union Square Hospitality, who founded restaurants like Shake Shack, said that people aren't just making reservations online, they are ordering online and that means restaurants have to automate in the kitchen.

"We're shifting as more and more people can take out their smartphone and they press an app that allows the food either to be picked up right there or to be delivered," Meyer said. "More people want to play with that kind of convenience."