What is The Luncheon Society? What the heck are we about? Instead of a conversation that takes place in a cavernous hall, these are conversations that take place around the table so you’re in the thick of things, right in the middle of the experience.
In a world where talking points can quickly escalate into shouting points, The Luncheon Society offers something unique—a place where elevated conversation rules the day. Its unadulterated and unfiltered; it’s all for your enjoyment. We essentially split the check. 2021 will be our 26th season,
The Luncheon Society began quietly, as most fun things do, as a small gathering around a tiny café table among good friends. Back in 1996, Bob McBarton, along with Tim Farley and Tom Koch, wanted to understand how a 1960’s Berkeley radical, who later ran as a left wing Third Party Presidential candidate in 1976, could end up as an investment banker.
Tim discovered he lived locally, Bob reached out, and Tom picked up the lunch tab. We sat down around small outdoor table at one of Berkeley’s historic hotels and we heard a tale of his life. Besides, not many people could actually say, “I went into investment banking because after Jimmy Carter beat me in the general election, I had to get a job.” At that point, The Luncheon Society was born.
For the first couple of years, these luncheons occurred sporadically, perhaps one every quarter. Sadly they petered out by 2000 and there were none in 2001.
With that, The Luncheon Society was back in business. In 2003 and 2004, it grew in San Francisco. In 2005, The Luncheon Society expanded to Los Angeles and two years later, it grew to include Manhattan. In 2011, we expanded into Boston.
Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have retreated from private rooms at wonderful restaurants and instead have headed for the safer environs of ZOOM, something that was not available when we first started out long ago.
After more than 350 of these gatherings, they are the places where great stories emerge. The luncheons with Christopher Hitchens that only got better when we began a pub crawl in San Francisco. There was the evening in Santa Monica 48 hours after the 2006 Academy Awards when the late Roger Ebert walked us through the battle between “Brokeback Mountain” and “Crash.” The restaurant, staffed by actors, had employees running for their headshots and screenplays until we closed the place down. I remember one luncheon with Mario Cuomo when my seatmates were Gay Talese on one side and Carmen Dell’Orefice on the other. One evening in Los Angeles, when we were celebrating the 6th anniversary of the Mars Rover Landings with JPL’s senior team, we asked everybody around the table where they were when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Most of us watched it on television. One guy around the table was actually there on that day in July 1969, walking on the lunar surface.
It’s what we do.
Come away thinking that after working your way through the week, there is this little oasis called The Luncheon Society which fills a nagging need. There is never any schedule, never any plan, but one is always just around the corner and it’s always a great deal of fun. They happen as they are meant to happen.
Think of us as “Adult Drop in Daycare.”