Want to Have a Meeting? Here are 5 Alternatives to the Coffee Shop

May 31, 2018 | Stephen Jackson

If you work from home, there’s a good chance that, at least for certain clients, you’d prefer to conduct your meetings elsewhere. Some of us are better homemakers than others, and some of us might be blessed with a sun room out of Dwell Magazine perfect for wooing big spenders in search of creative services. But if you’re like me, your office is a converted lofted bedroom with crazy stuff on the walls, complete with a rescued pit bull that barks at strangers.

If my situation sounds like yours, then you need to think of a few alternative places to conduct business with clients. Of course, preferred locations will vary with each gig, but here are a few arrows to toss in your quiver when scheduling your next professional meeting.

A Museum

Consider wooing your next client at a coffee shop or restaurant inside a museum. This is advantageous for several reasons. First of all, most museums are usually in a centrally located, easy-to-access part of town. Second, public spaces in museums are often beautiful, and provide a sophisticated backdrop for your pitch. Third, if you are hip to whichever scene the establishment is celebrating (art, history, whatever), the setting offers some natural conversational digressions should the meeting need an icebreaker or two.

A Unique Restaurant They’ve Likely Never Heard Of

I once met with a client at an off-the-beaten path Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco that I knew had a particularly great bun bo hue — a rich pot of beef and noodles that’s truly something else. The location was so unique and the place smelled so good that it lightened the atmosphere and allowed for a free-flowing discussion of what the client was looking for. It turned out the guy didn’t eat meat, but luckily there were a host of other options, equally delicious as my soup — which he didn’t find offensive.

So, the lesson here is to ask if your prospective client has any dietary restrictions. But a cool restaurant remains one of my favorite meeting locations.

A Mellow Walk with a Fantastic View

Nearly every town has one of these. The idea is to meet in the fresh air, take a stroll, and casually talk about the project. People are cooped up most of the day, and providing someone with an excuse to walk along a path or through a park and kick some ideas around is a hard offer to pass up. The view is necessary though, in my opinion. Nothing beats a low-impact, high-payoff walk. An elevated vista is preferred, but a walk along a riverbank, beach, or other beautiful location puts people in a good move. Bonus points if you can find a view of “the whole city from here.” It screams, “seize the opportunity!”

The Library

I’ve heard about this one for years, and I think you really need to identify the right client to meet at a public library. If you feel it’s a good fit, public libraries usually have private study rooms that you can fashion into a full-blown lookbook presentation. But please, make sure it’s a nice library. A new facility will feel like a hip and inventive place to go. A rundown library that happens to be next to your apartment will just feel creepy, so choose wisely.

A Restaurant Without Servers

This list is intended to provide places you may not have thought about to hold a meeting, so I’ve intentionally left out coffee shops and cafes in general. But a restaurant where you can order from a counter and then take your own seat is a great way to avoid the awkwardness of who’s supposed to pick up the check at these shindigs. Make sure not to order something messy like ribs, though; imagine the handshake!). Also, sit by a window — it feels nicer.

If the meeting goes well, announce that you’re getting a cup of coffee, then offer to buy them one. Little things like this matter, and as evidenced by this little roundup, so does the setting in which they occur.