Business Lunches Beat the Clock


Time-pressed executives are ordering something new for lunch—fine dining at the speed of a drive-through window.

In cities from New York and Chicago to Dallas and San Francisco, many white-tablecloth establishments are catering to their booked-solid clientele with a formal lunch that takes 30 minutes, from ordering through dessert. It’s not exactly fast food. But the format does bring a new level of efficiency to a business ritual that otherwise can go on for an hour or more.

Menus and service are modified to fit the 30-minute format. Grilled fish and salads replace pork chops and steak; pastries and other desserts are preassembled. To keep interruptions at the table to a minimum, some restaurants even send out four courses at once on a bento-style china place setting.

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