Move over, power lunchers.
Step back, you briefcase diners.For business, Salt Lake City is a breakfast kind of place.
"It's a breakfast city, and that's the best time to get people together," said Fred Ball, executive director of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
Ball attended five breakfast meetings last week and says he can't remember the last working day when he wasn't noshing over a morning meal - sometimes fitting in two a morning. (Meetings, that is, not breakfasts.)
"Absolutely, it's a morning town," Ball said. "I talk to my counterparts across the country, and they look at me incredulously and say there is no way they could get people together at 7:30 in the morning."
Set your alarm clocks a little earlier, folks. Trendy Salt Lake politicos and attorneys and business brokers are discussing strategy over their low-cholesterol oatmeal, plugging in their calculators on breakfast counters.
The traditional business spot to mix pancakes and projections is Lamb's Restaurant on Main Street. But other hot downtown spots to cut deals in the mornings include Market Street Grill and, for members, the Alta Club, as well the hotel coffee shops at the Red Lion and Little America.
"You do see a lot of business conducted over breakfast," said John Williams, of Gastronomy Inc., the parent company of Market Street Grill, which guarantees breakfast will be served in 10 minutes. The breakfast business at Market Street has climbed significantly over the past two years - and even more so in the past eight months, he said.
Salt Lake's breakfast lovers say mixing business or politics over bacon and eggs tends to make meetings organized and efficient. By extending the day at the front end, professionals get an early start. That's a good way to cram a little more work into an already packed day, without stealing quality evening time from their families.
Conducting business over drinks is becoming passe nationally. And while the Salt Lake movement to schedule early morning meetings might be a bit unusual, local breakfasters are also following the national trend to eating lighter fare over the ledgers and spread sheets.
Randy Horiuchi, state Democratic Party chairman, agrees that in bigger cities and on both coasts, important meetings are held after dark. "Because we don't have much of a night orientation, we're a mecca for mega power breakfasts."
Actually, a group of downtown movers and shakers, the Murphers, preceded the current trend by 15 years with their daily morning gathering about 9-ish at the first round table inside Lamb's main dining room. But according to John T. Speros, Lamb's owner, meetings of the Murphers can't be considered strictly business. "That's a current events kind of thing as well. Sometimes there are 14 people at that table that seats four for dinner."
The restaurateur admits to worrying about the business papers people are eating over in the morning. "We have to be real careful what we throw away every day," Speros said, "because a lot of people leave behind things they shouldn't, and they write down numbers everywhere."
Wes Hamilton, 75, senior vice president at Zions First National Bank and president of the Utah Retail Merchants, agrees he is in the power breakfast crowd. "I don't know how much power there is at my age, but I still do them."
Hamilton has been conducting business over breakfast for more than 30 years. "He thinks all of the decisions in Salt Lake City and the world are made at breakfast," agreed Hamilton's secretary, Maydel Louis.
"I just think it makes a lot of sense," Hamilton said. "You're fresher, and it gets your day started off right. Besides that, I don't like night meetings. I'd rather be home at nights.
"It's hard to do anything wrong in the morning," Hamilton said.