Mar 21, 2024

Mar 21, 2024

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Feb 22, 2024

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Where to Eat: Picking a Restaurant on a Work Trip

Where to Eat: Picking a Restaurant on a Work Trip

In my personal life, I am blessed with having a wife who is a Grandmaster at picking restaurants when we travel. In every city, in every country, she goes to her bag of tricks to arrive at the places where we will eat. I take care of the transport and lodging, she takes care of the eating and fun. But when I’m coordinating a work trip, whether it’s a team offsite or a customer workshop, the responsibility often falls on me to pick places to eat. I don’t know about you, but this is incredibly stressful for me… so I figured I would share a little bit about my process and invite you to share yours with me.

The first thing that I look at when it comes to eating is timing. The overall agenda tends to provide the framework.  Does our workshop end at 5pm? Do we only have 45 minutes for a lunch break? So for me, I block in a timeslot in the diary for all those who might participate, and this gives me a sense of start time and duration. From there I look at distances. Are we at a remote facility that takes a while to commute to the city centre?  Is there a cafeteria in the building? How far from the office is our hotel? Once I have a sense of time and distance, I consider the budget. Is this a prospect that I want to show a good time? Do we need to pinch pennies? Does the client have a max budget for expenses?

These items are the ‘fundamentals’ that I typically think about before I get into the real searching:

  • Time

  • Distance

  • Cost

With the fundamentals in order, now comes the complex part - preferences and dietary restrictions. This is a REALLY tricky one. I always have to remember that not everyone (especially northern Europeans) likes spicy foods. I have to keep in mind that some people are vegetarians or vegans. I have to think about intolerances and whether those can be accommodated - lactose, gluten, citrus, etc. But I also want to layer in the desire to eat the ‘local’ cuisine whenever I’m travelling to a different country or city. In the US, whenever I go to Texas, I want to have BBQ. When I go to Southern California, I want Mexican food. When I go to Chicago, I want steak. When I go to New York, I want pizza. In Europe, when I go to Italy, we better not eat at a Japanese restaurant. But when I go to the Netherlands, it better not be a Dutch restaurant 🙂

My go to places are Google Maps and Tripadvisor, but I’m not opposed to looking in the Michelin guide, scrolling through OpenTable or The Fork or asking colleagues/partners/clients who are based in the location. Locals tend to know best.

Once I factor in all of this and spend anywhere from minutes to hours on research, I just pray that whatever I’ve chosen has availability. The best restaurants for this are the ones with an OpenTable or similar integration that allows online booking, often directly in Google Maps. If I have to call to make a booking, I will often look elsewhere and go with another option if possible. Chances are I’m doing my searching outside of their opening hours, and I shouldn’t have to inconvenience myself to call them, right?

So what is your process? How do you make this less stressful?

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