Lunch date how-tos
for improving your social life
by Janet Jacobsen
by Janet L. Jacobsen
So youve met someone interesting youd like to ask out, but
youre awfully busy these days and are having trouble finding time
to keep your social life going. Theres one date that solves the
time problem, and is the kind of first date people are most likely to
Sooner or later, everybodys got to eat, and lunch is a useful meal.
It works well as a date because normally you meet at the location, so
theres no hassle about getting picked up; the time commitment is
short, so you only have to be on your best behavior for a little while;
expense is minimal - its fairly easy to go Dutch, for
that matter - so no one feels obligated (no worry about what
they might expect in return); and if its terribly boring, you have
to go back to work soon anyway.
And all the advantages of a lunch date apply whether youre interested
in romance, or just looking to make a new friend.
PICKING THE PLACE
Since most of us will be coming to a lunch date from work, there are some
qualities to look for in a lunch location, to guarantee the best possible
date results (meaning that at least the place doesnt ruin it for
1. Getting there should mean a minimum of hassle for the person you invite.
Either its close to where they work, or in some way convenient for
them (theyre going to be in the area that day anyway, for instance).
If you insist on the maximum convenience for yourself, your guest may
still agree to go, but youll have already lost some points. This
also means you should be able to give very good directions on how to find
(Yes, you should have a location in mind before you ask. The best course
is to suggest a couple of possible places and then let the other person
make the final choice.)
2. The food should be at least edible. You dont have to dazzle them
with the incredible cuisine, but you dont want them seriously gagged,
either. If the menu is clever, or some items unusual, that gives you something
to talk about, but you dont want your date to take one look and
say, I wouldnt eat any of this. (Thats whats
called getting off to a bad start.)
This means that if youre going to a place that specializes in anything
other than standard American, be sure the other person knows. I recently
talked my brothers into meeting me for dinner at a placed called the American
Grill, a semi-posh seafood/Americana place. They expected a burger joint.
It was touch and go for a minute, but theyre still speaking to me.
3. The service needs to be fast. No doubt at least one of you will have
to be back to work soon, which, allowing for travel time, may mean you
only have a half hour for the whole experience. Its best to mention
to the server that you are somewhat pressed for time; most places will
be conscientious if you give them a nudge.
Salad bars, Chinese restaurants, and any place with a buffet make for
quicker meals. And most places have lunch specials, which will generally
also be quick. Or get chicken-to-go and have a picnic.
4. The atmosphere should be conducive to conversation. This means the
noise level is not unbearable, the help doesnt behave like youre
holding up the line, and you are not packed in like boxed tea bags. If
the surroundings are in some way quaint, charming, unusual, or anything
else that would inspire a little conversation, so much the better. Clean
is also very important.
5. The price is moderate. One special advantage of a lunch date is that
many of the high price restaurants have a much more moderately priced
lunch, so you get to make a ritzy impression at a middle-class price.
(If youre not sure its in your price range, call ahead and
ask the cost of the restaurants average lunch. While youre
at it, if the restaurant will take them, its a good idea to make
Of course, fast - and cheaper - food is ok if you know the other person
likes it. But especially for a first date, a regular restaurant is probably
better. You dont risk making a cheap impression.
A MATTER OF TIMING
It may be that neither of you have control of your allotted lunch time
(and if your lunch hours arent in sync, forget it), but if possible,
schedule your date for either side of the normal noon-to-one madness.
Try 11:45 or 1:15. Youll feel less rushed, and the service will
probably be better.
No matter when you go, be con-scious of the time. Its fine if neither
of you have to hurry back, but if you dont and your date does, show
your concern for their needs. Saying, Oh, you can be a little late
essentially means that youre not much concerned about the consequences
Of course, week days arent the only days people eat lunch. In fact,
if youre inclined to spend the money a din-ner would cost, then
consider a Sunday brunch, usually offered at hotels and resorts. Theyre
generally more expensive than the typical lunch, but about the same as
a moderate-to-expensive dinner, de-pending on where you go. And for that
you get an absolutely staggering choice of food, usually of high quality,
and you can take hours to eat it. (Most are buffet style and run from
about 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Again, best to make reservations.
Women who havent had a lot of practice asking a man out should find
a lunch date relatively easy to handle. Lets get together
for lunch one of these days. How about Tuesday? seems less threatening
than Would you like to go out to dinner with me Tuesday? (And
remember, who asketh, payeth.)
In fact a lunch date is less threatening, less time, less money, less
demanding, but just as good an opportunity to get acquainted, which, after
all, is what dating is all about.