Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Workers Losing Spirit for Lunchtime Drinking

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Workers Losing Spirit for Lunchtime Drinking

Article excerpt

It's Tuesday lunch hour at the Brazilian Pavilion, where business executives dining under oil paintings of Latin landscapes prefer their cuisine with a Rio flavor.

On the white tablecloths, though, every one of the wine glasses stand stem up, untouched, as diners sip ice tea and soft drinks from water tumblers.

"Down, down, down, down, down!" is the way general manager Tony Duarte described the trend in lunchtime alcohol consumption since he opened his doors five years ago. "Only about 5 percent of our customers drink and they mostly drink beer and wine," he lamented. "Do I drink at lunch?" one business executive responded, pointing to his Coke. "I have to go back to work." Owners of other restaurants also report business lunch drinking is way off. At Ozio Martini and Cigar Lounge, Washington, D.C., general manager Dino Carr said, "We're drinking very little at lunch, maybe one martini - not like at night." "Ten or 15 years ago lunchtime drinking was much heavier," said Michael Sternberg, co-owner of Sam & Harry's, a steak house in Washington, D.C. "In a fine dining restaurant like ours, part of having a nice lunch is having a glass of wine. We also do a few scotches, a few martinis, here and there." Rob Hoover, president of Sprint Staffing & Workforce USA, Tampa, attributed the decline to "the desire to be alert at work and an awareness among corporate executives of the impact drinking has on your health." "Drinking is rare at the lunches I attend," Hoover said. "It's more likely to be Perrier than Johnny Walker." "It's extremely unusual for people to drink now at lunch," agreed Barbara Crystal, a spokesperson for American Automobile Association, Orlando. "The beverage of choice is probably iced tea. When I worked in New York you'd have several drinks at lunch. I can't vouch for how much work I did in the afternoon." Jeff Becker, vice president of alcohol issues at the Washington-based Beer Institute, said there was definitely less drinking at lunchtime. "People are drinking less spirits at lunch and I think we and the wine people have definitely benefited from that. …

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