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How to Organize a Business Lunch at a Restaurant

You can organize a business meal, especially a business lunch, to be both enjoyable and professional. Organizing a business lunch implies neither the informality of a breakfast meeting nor the formality of a dinner meeting:

  • Schedule the lunch. If possible, select restaurants that you have been to, or choose a couple of restaurants that you think will appeal to your guest and let him or her have the final decision.

  • Confirm the meeting. A day before the meeting, check with your guest and confirm the date, time, and location with either an e-mail or phone call, and confirm the reservation with the restaurant.

  • Pay before you eat. Arrive early at the restaurant, and ask the maitre d’ to take your credit card and run it through for preapproval. The bill never appears at the table, so there’s no confusion about who pays.

  • Check on the table before your business guest arrives. Arrive at the restaurant about ten minutes ahead of your guest and either take a seat at the table or check the table location before waiting in the entrance area for your guest.

  • Take the worst seat. If you’ve not been seated at the table before your guest arrives, and you’ve met him or her in the lobby, motion for your guest to follow the maitre d’ to the table. Allow him or her to have the best seat.

  • Order carefully. Always order the same number of courses your guest does.

  • Use impeccable table manners. A business meal is no time to chow down. Remember, your guest is more important than your food.

  • Know when to start talking business. Unless the need to transact business is urgent, and you and your guest have agreed to get right down to business, don’t discuss business matters until the end of the meal.

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