Issue: September 2005 Issue
Food For Thought
Toward the end of a lunch at the City Club of Cleveland in late July, I asked a top PR executive sitting next to me about the teriyaki salmon he was eating. He paused, leaned over to me and said, "Usually the food is kind of ... bad, but today itâ€™s pretty good."
"Thatâ€™s funny," I replied, "I was thinking the same thing."
The City Club of Cleveland draws prestigious dignitaries, politicians, business tycoons, movie stars, and even Saudi royalty to its open forums, but the gastronomic reputation of the venerable 83-year-old "Citadel of Free Speech" has not lived up to the same standard. "[The food] is just so bland," a guest remarked to me at an earlier event.
The City Club recently ranked No. 2 nationwide for executive speaking forums by Best Practices in Corporate Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based membership organization. The Chief Executivesâ€™ Club of Boston was ranked No. 1.
"Thereâ€™s criticism here and there, but weâ€™re constantly asking our members what we can do better," says City Club President Sanjiv K. Kapur. "I donâ€™t think people come here for the food so much as the fellowship and breaking bread with other people. Itâ€™s an educational experience."
To be fair, the City Club does keep prices low. A typical lunch costs $15 for members and $25 for guests. The per-person cost for a typical lunch at the club is about $75, Kapur says, when factoring the food, building, media and other costs.
A $2.5 million City Club renovation five years ago and the addition of a catering company have apparently improved cuisine quality over previous years, Kapur says.
Things may be looking up for dining at The City Club.
After servers cleared our mostly clean plates, I asked the four well-dressed executives at my table what they thought of their meal.
After several shrugs, one of the men chimed in, "It was good. Much better than the roast pork they served on Monday."
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