I’ve been living in Aberdeen for over a year now and I feel like I’m really beginning to get to know the city. I’ve met some great contacts, learned a lot about the way business is conducted here and been let in on a few local secrets.
One of them is the Come Lunch With Me club.
Will Shek mentioned it to me very casually when we met for coffee to discuss something completely unrelated. I’d been complaining that the city seemed to have some lovely-but-expensive restaurants and some cheap-and-cheerful restaurants, but very little in between.
“if you’re into food, you should come along to our lunch club,” he suggested. It really appealed to me and today was my first Come Lunch With Me event, held at the recently opened Aldephi Kitchen, just off Union St.
16 of us filled half the restaurant and, while there was a bit of a scrap over the six burgers that the kitchen could offer, it was a great networking opportunity. I was pleased to discover I knew several faces from other events and enjoyed chatting to new contacts. Most were self-employed or small business owners – photographers, financial advisers, web designers, events managers, marketers, recruiters and the like – and all were interesting to chat to.
Will, who founded the club in February 2013, said its success had been fairly accidental. He’d simply taken a contact, Mubasher Chaudry, to Manchurian restaurant on Causewayend to try dim sum for the first time, and his subsequent tweets had attracted the attention of other Aberdeen businesspeople. Now the expanding group meets each month in a newly opened, independent restaurant.
“We all like to network so it encompasses all that into a no-hassle, casual experience with no tie-ins or unexpected costs,” Will explained. “Basically, if you like the venue and can manage the date then come along, all you need to pay for is your lunch. I am surprised at those willing (and sometime very eager) to play host though – maybe it’s something instinctive in us that we want to share good experiences. ”
The host for the next event usually volunteers him or herself – all they have to do is book the table and circulate the email. I think it’s a great format and a fun way to discover new venues while supporting independent businesses. Aberdeen seems to be well-served by chain restaurants and coffee shops, so it can be very easy to just go somewhere familiar. This way I’m seeing another side to city, while networking and eating – what’s not to love?!