Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.

*This article was originally published in FA-Mag.

Everyone has favorite restaurants. It is not that hard to find a restaurant that serves good food. You know a few expense account restaurants, places where you like to eat but only when someone else is paying. Within the community, there are a few places that are “see and be seen” restaurants. They are not too trendy, they are not cheap, but they are not over the top expensive, either. They serve good food. The local HNW crowd tends to dine there on a regular basis.

The country club is the default option around here. The high profile one in the area was established 106 years ago. There are always familiar faces in the dining room. However, country clubs can be expensive to join and the “carrying costs” are high too.

How do you find the “see and be seen” restaurants? Start by asking your best clients to name their favorite restaurants. Make a list every time you get an answer. After you have spoken with a couple of dozen clients in the local area, you can see which names come up over and over.

Seeing in believing. Go out to dinner at each one a couple of times. Visit on the weekend when they are busy. Look around the room and see if you recognize anyone. You will know the “see and be seen” restaurants when you find them.

Ten Advantages To ‘The See And Be Seen’ Restaurant

How does this lead to business? The clue is in the article title. Becoming a regular at the “see and be seen” restaurant is a stepping stone to becoming part of the HNW community yourself, even if there is a significant age or wealth difference.

1. You connect with people you met previously. Let us assume you have joined several community organizations as gateways to getting into the HNW community. You meet new people at monthly events and say hello to people you met previously. This cultivation process can be pretty slow, because there are four weeks between each event. What if one of your better social prospects misses a couple of meetings? If you turn up weekly at the right restaurant, you see each other across. The room. You might stop by and say hello on your way out or send over a round of drinks.

2. It is common ground for cultivating relationships. You are proactively addressing the problem spelled out above by getting in touch with your new connections and suggesting both couples head out to dinner. They may not know you that well. They may question your motives. If you are suggesting a restaurant they frequent on a regular basis, they will feel they are on common ground.

3. Having a meal after the meeting. You have attended a committee meeting or a museum exhibition opening. It is still early evening, and no one had anything to eat, except wine and cheese. You are hungry. They are hungry. You suggest stopping off for something to eat to your new friends. You mention your restaurant. The name is familiar. They have been there before and like the food. They might even have a reasonably priced midweek menu.

4. Your prospect is impressed by who you know. You are taking a prospect out to lunch. Maybe it is dinner. You chose the restaurant. As they walk in, they notice the place is packed. They see familiar faces they know from the local newspaper. Perhaps you mention a name or two. Other diners acknowledge you. Your prospect assumes you travel in exalted circles. They may assume some of these high-profile people are your clients.

5. Your prospect knows people in the room. Now it is a different prospect. They know the chosen restaurant well. Why? Because they are a regular customer. When you both walk in, they see it is packed. They recognize familiar faces. They say hello. You are introduced because it is the polite thing to do. Now you know some of your prospect’s connections. The next time you see these new faces, you remind them where you recently met.

6. The management treats you as a valued guest. 
We have not talked about your relationship with the staff! Get to know the owner. Send them business. Tell them about it beforehand. You are a good tipper. You treat servers as equals. When you show up, the owner and staff are glad to see you. If you need a table on short notice, they make it happen.

7. It is a great place for client/prospect dinners. The royal treatment you get from the staff creates an ideal stage for those dinners when you team up with a wholesaler and invite a couple of clients who are each asked to bring along a friend. The restaurant’s reputation helps your client “sell the event.” The client’s guest realize they are dining at the same place as the local movers and shakers. The welcome you get from the staff and manager announces you are one of this crowd.

8. You may get invited to exclusive client events. Some restaurants do wine-themed dinners or celebrity chef nights. These involve a set menu, but often sell out quickly. Regular patrons get advance notice. These are usually festive events. They are another opportunity to meet new people.

9. The restaurant is a great seminar location. Monday night is the quietest night of the week for restaurants. Many of them are closed on Mondays. Weeknights are generally quieter than weekends. If you hold seminars, this can be an ideal opportunity to book the entire restaurant or a private room for your event. The reputation of the restaurant helps “sell” the event. Attendees gain bragging rights.

10. The bar might be active. Most of this discussion revolves around being a regular at dinner. You can also stop at the bar on your way home. There are plenty of people who patronize a restaurant for their bar scene. A couple we know came up with the idea of visiting several top hotels in Paris, having a glass of wine at the bar and ordering bar food. They built their own multi-course dinner by visiting several hotelsThe logic is you can increase the frequency of your visits to the restaurant by stopping in for a drink and a quick bite too.

The “see and be seen” restaurant is another stepping stone to gain entry into the HNW community. Becoming a regular is quite enjoyable too!


This communication is general in nature and provided for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be considered or relied upon as legal, tax, or investment advice or an investment recommendation, or as a substitute for legal counsel. Any investment products or services named herein are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered an offer to buy or sell, or an investment recommendation for, any specific security, strategy, or investment product or service. Always consult a qualified professional or your own independent financial professional for personalized advice or investment recommendations tailored to your specific goals, individual situation, and risk tolerance.