Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lunch Power Restaurants Are Packed with Holiday Diners - but They're Skipping the Dinner-Sized Check

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lunch Power Restaurants Are Packed with Holiday Diners - but They're Skipping the Dinner-Sized Check

Article excerpt

Holidays are a great excuse for celebrating, specifically for enjoying leisurely lunches with friends or colleagues at places other than office cafeterias and fast-food joints.

According to several restaurateurs around the St. Louis area, lunch business is especially brisk around the end of the year. In addition, they report that the trend toward luncheon office parties at restaurants is growing tremendously.

Portabella in downtown Clayton, for example, hosts six or seven parties of 16 or more at lunch every day during the holidays. The rest of the year, it's more like two of these parties a week, according to manager Jim Uxa. Lou Rook, executive chef at Annie Gunn's in Chesterfield, also said he's seeing a rise in lunch business. "The lunches are going longer, and there's more people at them," he said. "It seems there is quite a bit of celebrating going on." What may be appealing to these celebratory customers is that at many restaurants, lunch menus may feature the same items as dinner but for l ess, which means the bill is cheaper. At Portabella, a similar-size portion of the house-made chicken ravioli is $4 cheaper at lunch than at dinner. Uxa says the average lunch bill at the restaurant without alcohol is $8 to $11, while the average bill at dinner without alcohol is $25 to $27. GET OUT called around and found a slew of restaurants that offer different, less expensive lunch menus compared to dinner. What follows is a partial list, in the hopes of giving you some ideas of festive places to go celebrate the coming new year. Remember to call ahead for reservations, especially if your party is large. Restaurants tend to book up, even for lunch, this time of year. Cafe de France's three-course, fixed-price lunch for $12 draws big crowds of downtown office workers during the holiday season. A three-course fixed-price meal at dinner costs $25. "It used to be that dinner was very popular for people to come out and celebrate here at the holidays," said owner Marcel Keravel. "But this year, it is lunch. I wonder if next year it will be breakfast." Patty Long's 9th Street Abbey features an extensive, separate lunch menu at its Soulard location. …

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