Abe Schear, 57, a partner at Atlanta-based law firm Arnall Golden Gregory, says that when conducting business at mealtime, he prefers breakfast over lunch.
"In the morning, people are more organized — and more predictable," says Schear, who believes we're in our best moods in the morning. Of course, he indeed considers himself a morning person, and likes to take associates to the White House Restaurant in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood. The spot serves classic diner food with a smile, and he favors the restaurant for its quality and convenience. "It's friendly, and you can have breakfast in 30 minutes and leave," he says.
Schear isn't the only businessperson in a high-power position who prefers breakfast over lunch. Michael Hart, a professional speaker and sales and marketing consultant, says that breakfast is a far better choice if you want to cut a deal. Not only is it easier to book a meeting in the morning (some executives simply cannot leave the office on certain days of the week), it's also easier to get their undivided attention.
"Interruptions from cell phones and other unexpected intrusions are minimized in the morning," says Hart. "Also, early morning meetings can run longer since they're not interfering with the work day. Longer meetings mean more can be accomplished."
Schear likes to keep his breakfasts brief, while Hart likes to extend them for as long as possible. Therein lies the advantage of the power breakfast: It offers a flexibility that the standard lunch rush doesn't. And the food is exciting and interesting, not just the usual burger, chicken or fish you'd get at lunch.
At Norma's in midtown Manhattan's Le Parker Meridien hotel, guests choose from a list of inventive breakfast dishes while brokering deals. From foie gras brioche French toast with asparagus and wild mushrooms to mango-papaya brown-butter cinnamon crepes, there's something for everyone, savory or sweet. Even a cup of coffee holds excitement — Norma's serves up several specialty coffee drinks, including the Cocospresso, a blend of spicy hot chocolate and espresso.
In Hong Kong, the Four Seasons is an old standard. The hotel's early-riser dining spot The Lounge offers continental and American breakfasts, but the Hong Kong and Japanese breakfasts are more adventurous. The former includes wok-fried noodles with bean sprouts and soy sauce, rice congee with beef, chicken or fish and assorted dim sum basket; the latter comes with seared salmon or broiled cod, miso soup and nori, pickled vegetables and egg steamed rice or egg congee. All are accompanied with tea, of course.
Hotel restaurants are great for out-of-towners looking for something familiar in an unfamiliar city, but if you really want to impress the locals you're meeting with, consider somewhere like Schear's White House, or Atwood Café in Chicago. Located in the heart of the Loop, Chicago's business center, the restaurant serves contemporary American comfort food. Breakfast standouts include a banana pecan waffle with maple syrup and brown sugar butter, mascarpone brioche French toast and eggs benedict topped with crab cakes.
"I prefer to meet at a local place when I'm out of town," says Schear. He likes to learn something more about a city than a pristine hotel dining room might tell him. However, there's one rule Schear says all people must remember when choosing where to meet for a power breakfast. In fact, it's the golden rule.
"Go where the client wants to go," says Schear. "The idea is to make them happy."