Every day, a myriad of relationships are deepened, sales are made, deals are closed and other transactions are completed by wining & dining in restaurants, coffee shops and bars.
Food is universal, and conducting business with a glass or fork in hand fosters connections in a more relaxed setting, which, according to Executive Chef Eric Rivera of Montgomery’s Vintage Hospitality Group, can bring lasting benefits.
“’Wining and dining’ clients often provides an opportunity for both parties to let down their guards and have more candid and open conversations,” he said. “At VHG, we’ve seen many friendships and long-term relationships form through these type of dining interactions and have been fortunate to experience the same ourselves, too.” Here, Rivera offers his 10 tips on how to wine and dine successfully.
Do Your Homework:
It’s best to know a little about the person or people you’re taking out for a meal or drink so you choose an appropriate venue. Do they eat seafood? Do they have any dietary restrictions? Do they abstain from alcohol?
Do Be Real:
This always applies, not just in a business dinner, but be straightforward and honest in your conversations about your business intentions.
Do Trust the Staff:
Let your server guide the meal and do what they do best.
There’s no need to drink the most or spend the most.
Don’t Be Too Serious Too Quick:
Keep the conversation simple and light-hearted.
Don’t Be Pushy:
Nobody appreciates being pressured to eat or drink something they don’t like, so don’t try to make anyone try a specific food or beverage. Remember, your favorite may not be theirs!
Don’t Draw It Out:
Don’t linger too long. A client shouldn’t feel obligated to stay after the meal is over.
Don’t Be Rude:
Give your client your full attention. Put your cell phone away and focus on them.
Don’t Stretch Yourself Too Thin:
Don’t invite more guests than you can handle. You want to give everyone the attention they’re due.
Do Branch Out:
Pay attention to tip No. 9. But, if the opportunity is there, invite your and your clients’ spouses. They can often prove to be big helps in building relationships!
Bellying up to the bar at Vintage Year or lucky enough to snag at table at Vintage Hospitality Group’s new hotspot, Ravello Ristorante? If you’re unsure what to order, use this cheat sheet from Executive Chef Eric Rivera that highlights his personal faves.
- At Ravello: Cacio e Pepe– Strands of bucatini pasta get a punch from salty-sharp Pecorino Romano and a bite from black pepper in this classic comfort dish.
- At Vintage Year: Gulf Snapper– Fresh mild fish paired with poached potatoes, braised spinach and topped with Gulf shrimp, all swimming in a Parmesan broth.
- At Bar Attico: Cadillac Vibin’– A playful drink that brings the booze with a blend of amaretto, rye whiskey and vermouth smoothed with an egg white foam.
Executive Chef Eric Rivera
Chef Eric Rivera is the executive chef for The Vintage Hospitality Group, which includes Vintage Café, Vintage Year, Red Bluff Bar, MGM Greens and City Fed, Ravello Ristorante and its rooftop Bar Attico downtown. Raised in Colorado, Rivera has been in the restaurant business for decades.