I used to organize lunch every Thursday at Eastern Accents in downtown Ann Arbor. Then the restaurant closed, and my A2B3 lunch group was set adrift. Here’s what we’ve been up to.
First and foremost, the email list that goes with the group has been steady even with the disruption in the lunch routine. There’s a steady stream of questions with answers, job postings, news about events and the like. List membership is in the 450 range, and a relatively typical month has about 90 messages. The list has been going since August 2005 and occasionally gets written up in print (an Ann Arbor Observer mention was most recent).
I’ve added a meetup group to help actually plan actual events, since it’s pretty good about nagging people without me having to nag people, and it’s handy to have RSVPs.
Since there is an effective way to switch locations, we’ve started to rotate events more. In recent week’s we’ve visited Bell’s Diner on W Stadium and Be Won on Green Road for lunch, and in both cases had 10 or more people out for lunch. This actually poses a problem at most restaurants – Bell’s seats 8 comfortably with a little planning but 13 was a stretch. At Be Won we seated 6 and then sent 4 next door to Zamaan Cafe for what was apparently delicious middle eastern food (I mean to try it next time I’m up there).
The staple routine, which seems to be about every other week, is to go to Madras Masala on Maynard Street for a lunch buffet ($11 includes tip). We can always handle 8 there without any planning, and if ever we got so many RSVPs that we needed to plan for more they’ve been very accomodating. The food is good though some people don’t like how spicy it is, and parking at the neighboring Maynard St structure is close unless of course you have a truck in which case it’s kind of dicey.
What I love about organizing lunch for 450 (of whom 8 show up on a typical week) is just how much of the Ann Arbor community I’ve had lunch with. Since 2005, I’ll estimate conservatively that I’ve had lunch with 4500 people (9 years * 50 weeks * 10 people average). That number is probably low because at the depths of the recession we were seeing 25 or 30 people at a time who had a lunch hour free.