Largely forgone in the lean years since the dotcom bust, the business lunch is making a comeback. The National Restaurant Association projects a record $476 billion in overall industry sales for 2005, a 4.9 percent increase over last year, and restaurateurs report more bustle and business-deal making during the lunch rush. Check out the report from the trenches of three business lunch hot spots.
Swifty's, New York City
Business Lunch Buzz: Business clientele have been frequenting this Upper East Side eatery more regularly, and business is up from past years, says co-owner Robert Caravaggi.
Hot Meal: Men prefer dishes like crab cakes, steaks and risotto. Women order salads and cheese souffles.
Hot Drink: Nonalcoholic, for the most part, says Caravaggi, with iced tea and water being requested most
Palm, Los Angeles
Business Lunch Buzz: With two hot locations in Los Angeles, many a deal is made at The Palm, and lunch business has risen 35 percent during the second half of 2004 at the West Hollywood location, says Bruce Bozzi Jr., regional director of operations.
Hot Meal: Patrons eat lighter for lunch--Cobb salad, tuna ahi salad, lobster salad, and twin tenderloin filets are popular dishes.
Hot Drink: White wines, red wines and iced tea
One Market Restaurant, San Francisco
Business Lunch Buzz: Overlooking the Bay Bridge and mere steps from the financial district, patrons are doing more business, and lunch sales have increased 10 percent from last year, says general manager Larry Bouchard.
Hot Meal: Diners ask for simplicity and familiarity, says Bouchard--bistro steak, house-made sausage, spit-roasted half-chicken with braised cipollino.
Hot Drink: Not as much alcohol as in years past, but Bouchard notes that when people do order wine at a business lunch, they head toward the bigger-ticket bottles.