Once, I when the expense account was something new and we don't really have that much money, my partner and I would use any excuse to have lunch with client, eat as much as we want at expensive places and then at the end of the month, if the firm have money, pay us back the money for the lunch. It was the nearest to a free lunch that we could get. That was if we manage to collect enough fee to cover our other overhead.
A Malaysian lunch with rice
That was years ago. Nowadays, we don't really ask people out to lunch unless we consider them worthwhile to be taken out to lunch. I even have this one client who like to schedule appointments during lunch, extend it through it but will only serve us Chinese tea. As for the others, most of our clients would only experience having lunch once or twice a year with us as we have lawyers who actually meet them more than us. As for me, I do breakfast a lot more than I do lunch...
Anyway, just a question. What is the perfect business lunch? It actually vary from one client to another. In Malaysia, where lunch can sometimes mean rice with gravy and some proteins in the form of beef, chicken or fish, if business lunch are not chosen carefully, it can be very messy. Some VIPs do choose to have their lunch as such and if I have to be a part of that lunch, I always let them choose. I will then follow suit whether I would use my hand to really enjoy the food or if I need to control my demeanor while eating. Some do see the lack of us enjoying our food as being rude and business lunch, if need be, need to be at the behest of the client.
A western lunch
If the client choose a western food setting, either Tex-Mex or a steak place, then I would say that it would be easy for the lunch participants to be at ease. You just need to know how to use your fork and knife while keeping the din of your eating down. If it is a Chinese lunch, I have trained myself to use the chopstick as if I am a Chinese. I can eat a fish down to it's bone using chopsticks. I have a few Chinese clients in my earlier years as a lawyer who taught me how to use chopsticks like a pro. Of course, the easiest would be to eat like a Malay, with hand and without any decorum. I had lunch with fried catfishes and spicy anchovies on top of rice using my hands while managing to close deals.
So, business lunch can be a stiff affairs which may just waste your money or a satisfying lunch to your stomach and pocket.