How to Pick the Perfect Restaurant for a Client Lunch

Two men having a discussion during a business lunch

Whether you have a full-time office in Manhattan or are renting out temporary office space, client lunches are a common part of business. In the business world, lunch is much more than just a mid-day meal. This is an opportunity for closing business deals, networking, team-building, and one-on-one time to discuss important matters outside the office.

The restaurant you choose sets the stage for how a client lunch will go, so it’s important to pick one that suits the situation and your budget. Here are some tips about how to choose a great restaurant for your next client lunch, as well as some recommended lunch spots to try in Midtown Manhattan.

Purpose of the Business Lunch

The reason behind your lunch outing should influence your restaurant decision, perhaps more than anything else. If the purpose of your lunch is to close a big deal with a client, you will likely want to choose a restaurant with an intimate setting and a quiet atmosphere. Fine dining restaurants are well-suited for this type of client meeting, perhaps one with a sommelier, multiple courses, and an impressive wine list.

For less formal business lunches, such as outings for networking and team-building, you can take a more casual approach. It’s a good idea to choose a lunch spot that is conveniently located midway between your temporary office space and your client’s location to prevent someone from feeling especially burdened by the outing. Also, ask if your colleague has any dietary restrictions or preferences before picking a lunch spot. One-on-one lunch meetings should be tailored to your client’s location, tastes, and your professional relationship.

If you are on very familiar terms with your client or organizing a team-building lunch, consider a high-energy venue that’s in walking distance and that maybe even has some special deals on lunch menu items. If you want to meet with your own internal team in a fun and engaging way, consider organizing a happy hour outing or evening event as an alternative to lunch.

Lunch Spot Considerations

There are many factors to consider when picking out a lunch spot for a client meeting, such as the atmosphere, food, service, and price. On one hand, you want to make a good impression on your clients and team members at the lunch outing. But you also don’t want to make anyone feel unnecessarily uncomfortable or inconvenienced.

For example, if you choose a venue that’s too loud, you won’t be able to hear each other talk. If you choose a place with a disappointing menu, everyone will leave hungry and cranky. And unfortunately, all of this can lead to making hasty and ill-timed decisions for your business.

Regardless of what your goal for the lunch is, you’ll want to pick a restaurant with an appropriate atmosphere. When in doubt, restaurants with a professional ambiance and elegant décor are typically good choices. Always err on the side of too formal rather than not formal enough when it comes to business lunches.

Of course, the actual food you’ll be eating is a huge consideration when picking a lunch spot conveniently located near your temporary office space. There are so many cuisine choices to choose from in Midtown Manhattan, so narrowing down your options can be a challenge. Steak and seafood restaurants are the classic choice for a power lunch, and American fare is typically a safe bet. But your choice of cuisine can also show off your personality and how tuned-in you are to the city’s restaurant scene. So, don’t be afraid to suggest a unique ethnic food option as well.

The service that a restaurant provides will also affect the moods of you and your client and potentially either make or break your well-planned business lunch venture. Read through online reviews to see what other professionals say about the environment for businesses lunches, and call the restaurant if you have any questions about seating or menu options.

If possible, call ahead to make a reservation so that you aren’t wasting your time waiting for a table during your workday. It’s important to be respectful of your clients’ time when organizing a lunch meeting and not plan an outing that is too time-consuming. If you’re hosting the lunch, it is common etiquette to pick up the check. To avoid the inevitable awkwardness when the check arrives, consider arriving to the restaurant early and giving your credit card to the server before your meal so that it doesn’t interrupt your conversation.

Recommended Lunch Spots in Midtown Manhattan

Fortunately, if you have a temporary office space in Midtown Manhattan, there are no shortage of excellent lunch restaurants in the vicinity. In fact, the restaurants in this part of the city thrive on business lunch customers, and they’re incredibly experienced in serving client-focused lunches.

Here are three highly recommended local spots to try for your next client lunch.

21 Club, 21 West 52nd Street

The 21 Club’s history dates back to 1930, when it was opened as a speakeasy during the Prohibition Era. This is a place where executives and celebrities have dined for decades, and there’s even a map on the restaurant’s website that depicts where famous figures like to sit! This is a great place to bring your client from out of town to share some New York City history and ensure that you have plenty to talk about.

It’s conveniently located near Broadway, Fifth and Madison Avenues, and the Rockefeller Center, and you can pick from an à la carte or a prix fixe lunch menu. Sample prix fixe main courses are Icelandic cod fish, lemon chicken, and roasted vegetable cavatelli. You can make a reservation at this restaurant by calling 212-582-7200 or emailing reservations@21club.com.

The Modern, 9 West 53rd Street

This restaurant overlooks MoMA’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden in a bright and open atmosphere. Chef Abram Bissell creates contemporary dishes that are seasonally inspired and have won great recognition, including two Michelin stars and four James Beard awards. This is a place to bring you’re a client you’re really looking to impress him or her.

You can book a spot at The Kitchen Table, which seats up to four guests and includes a bespoke tasting menu catered to your preferences. Alternatively, you can sit in the lively Bar Room for a more causal lunch meeting with an à la carte menu. Favorite lunch dishes include the herb roasted pork tenderloin and sautéed foie gras. Reservations are taken up to 28 days in advance online or by calling 212-333-1220, and walk-ins are accepted in three areas of the restaurant.

Fig & Olive, 10 East 52nd Street

Fig & Olive has a few locations, but the Fifth Avenue restaurant is wonderful for business lunches in Midtown Manhattan. There are two large floors of restaurant space here, and lunch is served from 11am to 4pm. Downstairs, you’ll find a long, white marble bar that’s perfect for sipping cocktails. The upstairs portion has two dining rooms, and these can be rented out for business events for 40 to 80 professionals.

This option offers a unique twist on lunch cuisine with Mediterranean dishes and an ambiance that’s reminiscent of the French Riviera. It’s a versatile lunch spot that’s elegant, but not too formal or stuffy. Shareable appetizers, like zucchini carpaccio and octopus gallega, are served at lunch, as well as pasta, crostini, sandwiches, and salads. There’s also a prix fixe menu here that includes a chef’s selection crostini tasting and entrees like primavera risotto and Riviera salmon. You can reserve a table in advance online or by calling 212-319-2002.

Temporary Office Space in Midtown Manhattan

NYC Office Suites features Manhattan business centers with a variety of New York meeting rooms that are conveniently available hourly, daily and in discounted subscription format in Midtown. To discuss this opportunity further, please send a message or give us a call at 1-800-346-3968.

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