The Death of the Power Lunch

In this recession, manicures and coffee dates can replace pricey lunches.

ByABC News
September 9, 2008, 6:15 PM

Feb. 26, 2009 — -- Forget about the power lunch. These days it's all about the power latte.

With expense accounts on the wane and even the upper crust guarding their wallets, "Let me get the check" has been replaced with "Let's go Dutch."

Consequently, the schmoozers of the workforce have had to get creative with how and where they wheel and deal. Fine dining has been replaced with the corner diner. Crab cakes with cupcakes. Pot roast with a pot of coffee. A pricey bottle of merlot with a two-for-one manicure.

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If you, too, suffer from a dwindling entertainment budget, take heart. Meeting your business associates on the cheap doesn't automatically relegate you to the McDonald's drive-through.

For some wheelers and dealers, the swanky setting is non-negotiable. But that doesn't mean you have to pay top dollar to eat, drink and be merry in style.

"It's cheaper to order a pot of coffee at the Four Seasons in San Francisco and share it with two other people than to order individual coffees at Starbucks," said Dhana Pawar, co-founder of Yojo Mobile in Mountain View, Calif., which develops mobile applications for women.

"I always prefer a nice hotel lounge because it's much quieter," said Andrew Reese, a recruiter with The McCormick Group, an executive search firm in Arlington, Va. "There's nothing worse than being at a Starbucks and hearing people call out coffee orders and the espresso machine running."

But Reese, who frequently meets with executives who make $500,000 a year on average, takes the hotel meeting one step further.

Before he attends an industry luncheon sponsored by the professional organization for high-level executives that he belongs to, he checks the RSVP list. If one of his prospects is attending, he'll suggest they take a few moments out of the event to meet one-on-one over that almighty pot of coffee.

"It's both time- and dollar-efficient," he said.

In other words, why pay for a cab or parking twice if you don't have to?