Local Execs Name Restaurants With The Best Service

Local Execs Name Restaurants With The Best Service

Discreet and exceptional service is critical to a successful business meal. We asked six executives for their gold-standard choices in town.

Gary Cohen
Founder, CO2 Partners


My requirements for a successful business lunch include servers who respect my timetable rather than focusing on their desire to turn the table. Most importantly, if my guests and I are engaged in conversation, they don’t interrupt. I also appreciate low noise levels, tall booths for a sense of privacy, and easy, free parking. For all these reasons, plus unique and delicious food, the Lowry and the Freehouse are my top two go-to places.
The Lowry, 2112 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-341-2112. The Freehouse, 701 N. Washington Ave., Mpls., 612-339-7011, freehousempls.com

David Heide
Associate AIA, Allied ASID, David Heide Design Studio

Whether I’m meeting with clients or relaxing with friends at the end of the day, I favor restaurants where my guests and I are made to feel welcome in multiple ways. That’s Meritage, with the best service in either Minneapolis or St. Paul. The French-inspired hospitality begins with the valet and continues with the host staff, who know my favorite table. The wait staff are knowledgeable and well-mannered, and the charming owners always make time to stop by our table to offer an amuse-bouche and say thank you.
412 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-222-5676, meritage-stpaul.com

Maureen Bausch
Executive vice president, Mall of America

Especially when I’m planning a business meeting over lunch, I really appreciate staff who show respect for time—hosts who have the table ready, servers who ask whether we’re on a schedule and bring the check promptly. There are wonderful dining options at Mall of America, including Twin City Grill and Crave, great for lively, informal lunch meetings. I also like the private dining room at FireLake Grill House at Radisson Blu. With velvet curtains that can be closed for total privacy, it’s perfect for discreet meetings with important clients.
Twin City Grill, 952-854-0200, twincitygrillrestaurant.com. Crave, 952-854-5000, cravemoa.com. FireLake Grill House, Radisson Blu at MOA, 952-851-4040, firelakerestaurant.com

Tom Hoch
President and CEO, Hennepin Theatre Trust

For me, exceptional service is really all about gliding—the remarkable ability of highly sophisticated servers to glide up to the table without intruding on the conversation, attend to the needs of my guests and me, and then magically glide backwards and disappear until they sense that we require further attention. Hands down, La Belle Vie is my choice for this style of service. With an elegant dining room, exquisite food and servers who’ve mastered the fine art of gliding, it’s a local treasure.
510 Groveland Ave., Mpls., 612-874-6440, labellevie.us

Renee LeJeune Hallberg
Principal, RLH Studio

When I’m taking clients out to dinner, I appreciate polished, quietly gracious service from wait staff who don’t try to entertain us, don’t try to sell us and don’t repeatedly interrupt our conversation. Bar La Grassa is one of my favorite places because the staff knows how to be part of the evening without being intrusive, the vibe is fun and hip, and the food is always fabulous.
800 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-333-3837, barlagrassa.com

Alan Fleischauer
President, Fleischauer Financial Management

I’m a big fan of Ritz-Carlton-caliber service—wait staff who understand when to show up, when to retreat and go out of their way to fix anything that’s not acceptable. Lunch or dinner, I like Ike’s in Minnetonka. Quality service is not just a slogan, and the food is first rate. It’s great for business conversations because the atmosphere is warm, the booths are comfortable and it’s not so noisy you can’t talk, but it’s noisy enough that you won’t be overheard.
17805 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka, 952-681-7099, steakhouseminnetonka.com