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Lunch-in: The cure for the common work lunch

LunchinThank you, Daily Candy. For once you sent me something I actually care about, something that’s not a babydoll dress, pricey faux bauble or ribbony high-heeled shoe. Thank you for rescuing me from the drudgery that is lunch up in Levi’s Plaza area. In short, thank you for turning me on to Lunch-In.

To give you a little color on the situation: I’ve worked in the Levi’s Plaza area, off and on, since 1992. Lunch options are thin on the ground up there. You’ve got a respectable but overpriced market and deli, a more reasonably priced but slightly skanky deli, and two takeaway sandwich counters attached to medium-high-end restaurants. This is enough to tantalize the palate for a few days, maybe even a matter of weeks, but over the course of years it gets tired. Really tired.

This week I facilitated a three-day consultancy at the office, with attendees in from New York, Los Angeles and Boston. If our takeaway options are slim, the delivery options are worse: Il Fornaio sandwich platters, Specialty’s cold cut platters and North Beach pizza. Yawn. So day one it was Specialty’s, day two it was Il Fornaio … and I refuse to feed out-of-town consultants delivery pizza. Lunch-In to the rescue!

Lunch-In proprietress Gina Faiola offers a nice alternative to the typical sandwich-and-salad fare you get from the major caterers in town, although it is still basically a sandwich-and-salad affair. (And soup, don’t forget the soup.) With sandwiches like Moroccan tuna on baguette with hard-boiled egg, olives, potato and spicy harissa and pork tenderloin on ciabatta with onion pickles, arugula and aioli, it’s a definite step up.

For my crowd, I ordered a mixed batch of combos with a roughly even distribution of each type of sandwich plus some cookies. If I’ve learned anything about long meetings, it’s that cookies go a long way toward abating the mid-afternoon crankies. The combos arrived assembled in their own brown bags, neatly stapled shut and marked. The presentation was efficient, professional and neat, and the food was downright good. Nary a bite was left behind, and the feedback was more than positive.

My one complaint: The soup comes refrigerated, ready to microwave. Ten individual containers of soup are really hard to nuke when an entire corporation shares one sole dorm-sized microwave, but I suppose that says more about the company’s appliance problems than anything else. I would have preferred soup delivered hot in thermal containers, but then I suppose the price would not stay so reasonable.

Sadly, there is a $50 minimum, which is all that keeps me from ordering this for myself every single day until I get burned out on it. Guess I need to call more all-day meetings.

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