Entertaining Clients in Lincoln, NE
Establishing a good rapport with clients and building a relationship that’s mutually beneficial is the goal of any businessperson who understands exactly what it takes to be successful. Entertaining clients is one of the best ways to achieve this because it’s not all about the business transaction, but more so about finding common ground. By inviting your client to get together outside of the normal business setting and treating them to a nice experience, you’ll not only so have a better understanding of each other afterwards but as a result of that important personal interaction, your partnership will become stronger.
When it comes to matching the client’s personality, interests, preferences, and so on with the ideal activity or setting, it can be tricky to decide what’s best out of the many options that are available. Therefore, we’ve covered some of our favorites below to give you a few ideas to roll around!
A Quick Lunch
Let’s start simple. You’d be surprised at how much ground you can cover of the course of a lunch meeting, and not necessarily just for conducting business either. Inviting a client to grab a quick lunch and catch up is always welcomed, schedule permitting. There are plenty of great places around town to grab a bite, so you can pick and choose based on the most convenient location, your favorite spot, or a new place that you can introduce to your client or both try out together. You’ll both be enjoying a little bit of actual real-world face time, which is refreshing given that so much work now is done via computers and mobile devices. The expense of two lunches and the time away from your desk is minimal compared to the relationship that you’re cultivating.
Eat Fit Go is a great place to grab a bite on the southeast side of town, and you could also pick up meals that are already prepared and ready to go if you’re looking to treat your clients to a healthy and delicious lunch at a different location.
“It’s always wonderful to connect with the people you do business with on a more personal level,” says Natasha Plooster, President of Eat Fit Go Lincoln, located at 2901 S. 84th Street. “Getting out of the office and enjoying an experience together helps break down any existing barriers so that you can tap into that next level of a personal connection, which builds better and longer lasting business relationships.
With client entertaining it’s important to create an experience, and that doesn’t necessarily have to be difficult or time-consuming. For those who are stuck in their office most of the day, something active is a welcome respite from the grind. But above all, have fun with it! The best events are the ones where the host is genuinely present, so let the professionals do the work for you if it’s an option on the table.”
In the southwest quadrant of Lincoln, Teriyaki Madness is a newcomer to the thriving dining scene at 27th & Pine Lake Road. As a fast-casual restaurant concept delivering its specialty, delicious teriyaki-inspired fare served in a variety of ways depending on the ingredients you choose, it’s a great spot to grab lunch too. “It’s always nice to be able to introduce a new restaurant to your client, so now is the perfect time to give us a try!” says Matt Skibicki, General Manager of the Teriyaki Madness Lincoln location. “For those planning events, we also recently launched our catering offerings. When entertaining, it’s so important to have great food for your clients to enjoy, whether it’s just a snack or a full meal. You can find our menu on our Facebook page: Teriyaki Madness – Pine Lake or feel free to give us a call with any questions or to place an order.”
Located in the Preserve Development at Pioneers Blvd. and Lucille Drive, MōMō Pizzeria & Ristorante is another must-try experience for lunch. The menu changes seasonally, so there’s always something new to try among the favorites that have become staples and are offered year-round. All items offered on the menu are made in-house from scratch by MōMō’s talented chefs with locally sourced, quality ingredients. This restaurant features a beautiful and unique interior, with an upscale feel that’s perfect for entertaining clients and an ambiance that shifts from bright and charming during lunch to more of a relaxing and sultry vibe in the evening. So, while it’s a perfect place for lunch, it’s also a good place to have on your list for a classy dinner or cocktail hour.
Lunch is great any day of the week, but it’s hard to beat a TGIF lunch date that’s for sure! Centrally located at 70th & O Street, Texas T-Bone Steakhouse is now open for lunch Friday-Sunday, offering a casual, Texas-style dining experience during the day that’s just as amazing what as they are well-known for in the evening. Among the lunch menu selection are Texas Size Sandwiches and Favorites as well as a lighter size of their signature option to “Create Your Own Salad.”
Just a little bit down the road, if authentic Mexican fare is what you’re looking for, La Paz Mexican Restaurant has plenty of delicious dishes to choose from paired with great service and of course, complimentary house-made chips and salsa. Who knows, you might even be able to sneak in a margarita if you have the afternoon free!
For those who work in the downtown or the Haymarket, it’s generally most convenient to stay in that area for lunch engagements. Yowie’s Lodge is a great place to stop for lunch, offering a scratch-based menu that’s got fantastic range with a unique take on all of the classic lunch fare—salads and soups, sandwiches, burgers, steaks and seafood, and the popular Lodge Special that changes daily. As a nod to the theme of the venue, the menu even incorporates wild game! While Yowie’s Lodge is definitely a recommended stop for lunch, it’s one that’s well-suited for just about any occasion—dinner, drinks, and definitely on a Husker game day!
Speaking of adult beverages, whether the plan is to hit up a vibrant happy hour or unwind and enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere, this is one of the best ways to spark up an easygoing conversation.
Each bar, lounge and restaurant in town offers its own unique atmosphere, so it’s all about choosing the scene that you think best fits the person you are entertaining. For a wine connoisseur, look for a place that has an impressive wine list, such as Venue Restaurant & Lounge or MōMō Pizzeria & Ristorante, that also boasts a fantastic selection of specialty drinks, or commit all the way and take them to Lincoln’s first true-to-concept wine bar, barVino.
If a more casual classic bar environment seems to be more their style, try out a popular happy hour such as the one at The Local, a newer neighborhood spot in south Lincoln. Or if you’re in the Haymarket area, McKinney’s Irish Pub is a favorite stop for many, mainly due to its upbeat atmosphere and of course, great selection of authentic drinks and fare.
There’s something for everyone, so have fun “picking your poison!” But also in this particular setting, be sure not to over-indulge and to stick as closely as possible to your usual business etiquette; even though the goal is to get personal, there’s a fine line between unwinding and coming undone.
Out & About…
Aside from lunch dates and meeting for drinks, there are plenty of other opportunities to invite your clients to get together for a little fun outside of the work environment. The setting and experience should always be determined by what you think the client would like as well as what you think they’d be most comfortable with for the best outcome. There are many great things to do in Lincoln as well as other gems that are outside of city limits but yet at a reasonable distance to travel.
…On The Town
If you’re looking for something different from anything you’ve done in the past, that’s not necessarily a tall order these days with all of the new, fun things to do that are always popping up on the local scene.
For a group experience that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, whether it’s a smaller crew of up to six people or a somewhat larger gathering of up to 15 people, a Group Therapy Bike Tour is it.
“With our new conference bike and our classic trolley bike, there are a lot of options for entertaining your clients,” says Katie Philippi, owner of Group Therapy Bike Tours. “Whether it’s an unconventional ‘stroll’ through the park or enjoying the different atmospheres found in Lincoln’s hotspots for entertaining, from the vibrant downtown area to the modern Railyard and the historic Haymarket, you are free to choose the destination that best fits what you have in mind. While we’ve put together a great selection of different routes to choose from in a diverse range of settings and potential stops along the way, we also offer the option of designing your own tour. We love getting creative with the tours, so the possibilities are endless! You could also choose to rent either bike in order to offer your guests the added enjoyment of rides at a corporate event, or book the conference bike for concierge bar services. No matter which way you choose to go, it will be a unique way to bring people together for an enjoyable time and a chance for more personal interaction outside of your usual business dealings.”
While the Paint & Sip concept has been around for some time now, Pinot’s Palette has recently brought its fresh take to Lincoln with the opening of the new studio. One of the biggest things that sets Pinot’s Palette apart is that all classes are guided by personable instructors who are also professional artists and art teachers. Moreover, they choose from a treasure trove of copyrighted paintings that were designed by their national network of artists. This ensures that your painting will be well designed to be readily paintable by novices but also an artwork you will want to display.
“Probably the first evidence of intelligent life on our planet was found in the cave paintings dating back 42,000 years; I think painting is in our DNA,” explains J. Christopher Cook of Pinot’s Palette. “I have never known anyone who did not like painting, at least once they picked up a brush. Even the guys who claim they were forced to come later admit that they had fun.
As a form of business entertainment, Pinot’s Palette hits all the right buttons. Painting parties are great places for low pressure socializing, since people don’t have to continually carry on a conversation. Everyone has fun and ends up with a painting on canvas suitable for framing. The painting will be a continuing reminder of the fun they had when you treated them to a unique experience.
When entertaining a couple or a small number of clients, I recommend coming to one of our regularly scheduled painting events. With entertaining artists and a good wine and beer selection, customers can relax, be entertained, and share what is frequently a new experience. However, we are also the place to go for entertaining larger groups of clients as we offer private parties that can be customized. You can pick a painting from our copyrighted library or we will even design a unique painting for you. As Pinot’s Palette is locally owned, we can be very flexible and we will design a party that meets your needs.”
Cook further advises, “The ever-increasing diversity of our customers and clients means that developing strong friendships, trust, and mutual business goals has become much more complicated. The old ways of entertaining don’t necessarily work for everyone. Businesses need to recognize the uniqueness of their clients and find entertainments that fit busy schedules and different interests. Ideally, they should provide an opportunity for unpressured socialization. I think everyone wants to be understood and appreciated for their differences and making the extra effort to identify and provide activities that match those interests would be greatly appreciated and rewarded.”
Another form of entertainment that’s relatively new to Lincoln, but also new in the fact that there’s the possibility for a different experience each time you visit, is the escape room experience provided by Escape Lincoln.
“Escape Lincoln offers a unique alternative entertainment option when looking for something interesting to do in town,” explains Abby Bartholomew, co-owner of Escape Lincoln. “Escape rooms offer a tangible way for professionals to interact with their clients outside of the workplace in a very different environment than a restaurant or bar. Working together to solve puzzles and find clues can be great for building that relationship, similar to team building with coworkers. You work on strengthening your individual problem-solving and communication skills, as well as learning new ways of effectively communicating with one another.
As an added bonus, we are located in the Historic Haymarket within walking distance of amazing restaurants, activities, and hotels. We work with customers to plan custom bookings throughout the week by request, so people entertaining clients can book a time and room(s) that fit in perfectly in their busy schedules.”
As Nebraska’s “Home for the Arts,” if you’re looking for something along those lines, the Lied Center for the Arts not only brings many fantastic performances to Lincoln each year, but is also a great space to host an event of your own as well!
“Whether it’s a new or existing client, you should always aim to provide an experience that the client will remember long after the event has passed– like taking them to see a world-class artist perform at the Lied Center,” says Bill Stephan, Executive Director of the Lied Center for Performing Arts. “Entertaining clients at the Lied can range from ordering a block of prime seats through our group sales program (402-472-8510), hosting a pre-concert reception, arranging a meet and greet with our world-class artists, or creating your very own one-of-a-kind event.”
He adds, “When it comes to entertaining clients, choose an activity that will leave a lasting impression. Your clients will remember their Lied Center experience long after the curtain closes. Many of our business patrons either bring clients to a performance themselves, or treat them to an unforgettable evening in downtown Lincoln. Tickets to a performance are not only thoughtful, they are extremely affordable.”
A sporting event is another great example of live entertainment and an experience that’s different each time you attend. The Lincoln Stars hockey games have provided a great setting for entertaining clients for years now, whether it’s just seats to a game, a reserved sky box, or the popular Galaxy Club. Speaking of the Galaxy Club, this year Lincoln Stars Hockey will debut a new all-inclusive section in that area with some exciting changes in store for guests!
“We’ve teamed up with some of the best restaurants in Lincoln to enhance the Galaxy Club experience by providing this section with dinner throughout the game,” says Adam Micheletti, President of Lincoln Stars Hockey. “The Galaxy Club is now structured as an all-inclusive package, which includes dinner and two drink tickets for the private bar. This is a great way to entertain clients as well as reward employees, or just for a great night out with friends and family.”
…On a Road Trip!
Sometimes getting out of the normal scenery in town is the best idea, and hitting the road for an adventure isn’t just something you can do with your family and friends.
Located near Fremont on the Platte River, Bryson Airboats provides a great way to get out into nature with the added thrill of cruising up and down the river on an airboat. There are plenty of opportunities to catch an amazing glimpse of the wildlife in their natural habitat, with eagles soaring around in close proximity to their nests and picturesque views among the spectacular highlights. When it comes to impressing your clients with an experience they won’t soon forget, this is the way to go!
“Our most popular Three Hours of Fun package includes continuous airboat rides as well as access to the riverfront property and amenities, including a grill, horseshoe pits, bean bag toss, sand volleyball court, and even swimming in the river if you like!” says Bryson, the locally famous face of Bryson Airboat Tours.
“There are picnic tables lined up that will accommodate seating for up to 40 people, and there’s plenty of room for more to join the fun by renting tables, chairs, even a tent, or bringing out your own. Weather is unpredictable, so sometimes spending a little extra to rent a tent is cheap insurance that your event can still go on even if it is raining. We’re close to Lincoln and Omaha, so you can invite clients from either area with no worry that it’s too far away!”
Planning an Event
As a client, it’s especially nice to be treated to a night out or a good time by those you do business with as a gesture of thanks for your continued partnership. So on the other side of the table, hosting your own event to entertain a number of clients is the perfect way to bring many busy professionals together, and when that happens, you know there are sure to be multiple benefits! Everyone in attendance will also have the opportunity to expand their own circle, so by providing the opportunity to mix it up, make connections and have a good time, it’s a win-win for all.
If you are setting up a special event where you’ll be entertaining your clients, you’ll want to line up the location and then work out the details for catering, because no event is complete without great fare! As with lunch or drinks, this is also an area to consider what best fits those you’ll be entertaining. Similar to what we’ve covered regarding great spots for lunch, dinner or drinks, there’s a diverse range of businesses in Lincoln with excellent catering offerings. You can do so much with event catering today due to the creativity and talent found in our local industry, so it’s advantageous to lay out the details as far as head count, location, theme, and any other key details first. Then, let the caterer present ideas and go from there!
With a variety of options involving its specialty–delicious wood-fired rotisserie chicken–along with your choice from a selection of 15 sides, you can decide to go healthy or hearty (or a mixture of both!) when incorporating catering from Cowboy Chicken into your next event. Whether it’s a dinner-style spread, fresh salads, sandwich trays, or even their famous chicken enchiladas, the Cowboy Chicken staff will help you plan a meal that will meet all of your needs and then ensure that everything is executed flawlessly. With tailgating just around the corner, if you’re hosting this year, give Cowboy Chicken a try!
Among the highlights of an event that leave a lasting impression, food and drink are atop the list, but it’s also nice to add to that foundation by incorporating other unique elements. This might include live music, luxury transportation, or even activities surrounding a themed event.
“Planning more than just a meal helps make an event memorable for both potential and existing clients,” advises Vicki Harris, owner of Harris Academy of the Arts. “Adding live musicians to an event provides a warm, inviting ambiance and there are all sorts of ensembles that would fit well with any type of affair. In fact, live musicians help greatly in achieving the appropriate mood, filling the background with delightful music so that there’s no need for overpowering conversation or on the opposite side, no opportunity for awkward silences.
For businesses wishing to entertain clients, Harris Academy of the Arts offers professional musician services that are sure to please. Music plays a large role in setting the overall tone of an event, and live musicians have proven time and time again to add class, elegance, and fun to social gatherings and business events for clients.
Live musicians definitely provide an entertaining and relaxing atmosphere for any event, small or large. For smaller events, a simple solo piano provides a nice ambiance throughout the room, whereas the performance of a string quartet could really make a lasting impression for larger events.
Holiday parties are coming up on the horizon, and present an excellent opportunity to entertain clients that many take advantage of every year. Another popular option offered by Harris Academy of the Arts is the Charles Dickens Carolers, which is a fun and interactive option to provide for clients over the holiday season. Carolers dress in Dickens costumes and stroll through the event singing carols and even leading groups in sing-alongs. The spirit of holiday music, accompanied by vibrant costumes of a Dicken’s Christmas, is a special touch that’s sure to impress AND entertain!”
Eliminating the need to worry about transportation is one of the best received perks as far as special touches go, especially if you’re extending a safe ride to and from an event where you and your clients will be enjoying adult beverages. It’s also great for entertaining clients who are in town on business, as you can arrange for airport transportation and corporate car service as needed.
“Having recently added a 34-passenger limo bus to our fleet, which includes a wide array of sedans, SUVs, and several different sizes of limousines, we are now able to accommodate both small and large groups,” says Lori Hiebner, owner of Leisure Limousine & Sedan. “We are a premier transportation service, so you can count on us to provide a safe and professional experience no matter what you have planned for your client.”
When it comes to adding the special touches, Stacy Leners with Blur Parties also offers a few key pieces of advice. “The number one thing to do is be prepared ahead of time for not only the event but things that may come up during the event! The more prepared you are, the more stress-free you will be and the more time you will have to entertain and make the most out of the entertainment experience.
Second, whether you’re entertaining a client or potential client, find out what interests them. What do they enjoy doing as a hobby, do they like to golf, are they foodies, or are they sports fanatics? You want to invite them to something they enjoy so they are comfortable in the situation. For example, don’t take someone golfing who has never been on a course before. This can create a stressful time for the client and is not enjoyable or beneficial for either party.
All of the events that we host, including College World Series and of course, Nebraska football tailgates both in-town and out-of-state, as well as an annual wine festival, are all-inclusive ways you could entertain your clients. While tailgates are full of action, fun, and energy, the wine festival is a more easygoing setting that would be a better fit for a client who enjoys wine, local artisans and live music. It’s all about finding or creating that ideal opportunity to connect.”
Among the fun activities that you could opt for given the time of year is a Husker tailgate! Hosting out of town clients on game days here in Nebraska is sure to provide an amazing, unforgettable experience. And, since the vast majority of your in-town clients are fellow Husker football fanatics and will be observing a Saturday tradition here in Lincoln, you may as well capitalize on that and host an amazing tailgate event!
We asked a few of our clients to share their take on corporate tailgate events:
“One of the most important seasons is upon us! With tailgating just around the corner, we are so excited for the convenience of Eat Fit Go on and off the tailgate-turf. Tailgates are such a great way to show appreciation to clients in a non-formal setting. Who doesn’t love to get together and enjoy a great Husker game! I absolutely cannot wait to serve our Turkeylicious Chili at our tailgate; this dish is even amazing when enjoyed in 110 degree heat!” – Natasha Plooster, Eat Fit Go Lincoln
“While I am a University of Nebraska alumni and love the Huskers, I can’t bring myself to watch the game until we are at least 30 points ahead. I cater to those folks who are like me and to those who don’t watch football. I have painting parties during the games for football widows, people who want to avoid the game day crowds, and for folks who couldn’t get a ticket. I also offer an alternative for all the people who come to Lincoln for the game day shopping and fun, but don’t end up going to the game. My southern location lets people avoid the traffic and after game crowds, and the restaurants in my area don’t always have lines of people trying to get in. For out of state clients and those who aren’t interested in UNL football, my painting events are an opportunity to entertain, provide a unique and memorable experience, that still lets people socialize, share an experience and bond.” – J. Christopher Cook, Pinot’s Palette
“At Blur Parties our specialty is game day tailgate hospitality, both for Nebraska football and the College World Series, including entertainment with the day’s best games on TV, DJ’s, food and beverage, along with celebrity appearances and tailgate games and giveaway. Everything is pre-arranged and pre-paid so that all our clients have to do is invite their guests, show up and we take care of the rest!
For these types of events it’s best to know your guests interest levels ahead of time, and not only sporting interest but social interests. What do they like to eat and drink? Do they like to partake in tailgate games or would they rather watch other games that are on that day? Is there a certain type of music they prefer? We also put together packages with game tickets, hotel and transportation for guests coming from out of town.
As many of you are already aware, our first away game is at Northwestern this year on Saturday, September 24th. Staying true to our tradition, Blur Parties will be bringing our famous Husker tailgate to Evanston, IL!
Enjoy appearance from the NU Spirit Squad along with other surprise guests. There will be football combine challenges including relay and throwing accuracy as well as all of the classic tailgate games–washers, bag toss, beer pong and flip cup. Watch football games on HD TV’s or listen to the DJ while enjoying an unlimited Chicago style buffet, beer, wine and soda!
Try a taste of Chicago with an unlimited buffet including Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago style char-grilled hot dogs, Leon’s Chicago char-grilled polish sausages and AMYLU’s chicken sausages, veggie burgers, along with a variety of sides. Beverages including Bell’s IPA, Coors Light, Blue Moon, Nebraska’s only Sea of Red game day wine, Husker punch, Coca-Cola products and water.
Full package options are available online at www.blurparties.com/northwestern and you can also view videos from past 2012 and 2014 Blur Parties Northwestern tailgates!
The advantage to selecting any type of Blur Parties tailgate is you can create a full game day experience where everything is already taken care of, making it easy to simply sit back and entertain while others do the work such as setting up the environment, managing a guest list, catering, tearing down the tailgate, and so on. Leave the hard work to us and sit back, entertain and enjoy the day, which can include the tailgate and on to attending the game or alternatively, just hang out at the tailgate and watch the game with beverages still flowing!” – Stacy Leners, Blur Parties
“Our traditional ‘trolley’ bike is perfect to book for your next corporate tailgate party! You could choose to keep it stationary for concierge bar services or opt for renting the bike out to give your guests rides around the downtown, Haymarket or Railyard areas on Husker game days, which makes for an amazing experience.” – Katie Philippi, Group Therapy Bike Tours
“The bars at Parkway Lanes and Hollywood Bowl both offer unique and affordable venues to host your next Husker tailgate. Reserve the whole bar or an area for your festivities. If you want to offer a tailgate to please all ages, the Legends Lounge inside Hollywood Bowl is a great choice. With its several large screens and seating areas, pool table, bags game and darts, your lively guests will have plenty to do at commercial breaks. And there’s always bowling for those that are really into the spirit of competition! If you’re planning a more intimate gathering of friends, then the Parkway Pub is the perfect setting, with its authentic English Pub feel, cozy corner seating, padded booths and servers with class and experience!
Both locations can help you put together a custom package that meets your food, beverage and budget needs. Choose your location and before you call us, it’s helpful if you have 1. Date(s) and time(s) in mind; 2. Group size; and 3. An idea of the amenities you want to provide your guests. We can talk you through food and beverage options over the phone or in-person. For inquiries about the Parkway Pub, call 402.483.7763. For information about renting the Legends Lounge inside Hollywood Bowl, call 402.466.1911. We do recommend reservations in advance, especially for Husker parties as we can fill up quickly.” – Jennifer Davis-Korn, 48 Bowl
“We have a great selection of Tailgate packages for any size party and we can tailor the entire order to fit your specifications, which makes it easy to order just what you need for the size of crowd you have to feed. Each tailgate order comes with our fresh-never frozen premium chicken fingers in sizes of 25, 50, 75 or 100 fingers and Cane’s Sauce. And if you are looking to add a little more to the tailgate experience, you can add on our grilled Texas Toast and creamy Cole Slaw. Placing a tailgate order is easy: Simply call one of our restaurants to speak with the Manager on Duty and they will take care of everything. And if you’re struggling with how much food you’ll need, we’d love to help out. Our Community Coordinator is an expert when it comes to planning tailgates and on-site events and will be able to help you every step of the way. If you’re interested in scheduling and on-site event, email email@example.com to learn more.” – Jennifer Jones, Raising Cane’s
“The Lied Center hosts many tailgating parties throughout the season including corporate clients and even the Chancellor’s tailgate! One of the best things about hosting a tailgate party at the Lied Center is its prime location and picturesque views of the UNL campus, not to mention it’s just steps away from Memorial Stadium. Events are completely customizable and as a theatrical venue, almost anything is possible. We allow clients to select their own caterer to best fit their needs, budget and event atmosphere, which has taken many forms over the past two and a half decades, from multi-course sit down dinners, to made-to-order Neapolitan pizzas from a wood-fired oven.” – Bill Stephan, Lied Center for the Arts
“Because of our convenient location, Husker fans can stop in for a quick escape before the game day activities begin or after the game is over if they’re looking for something else to do while they’re out and about downtown. It’s an especially fun experience to recommend to those travelling to Lincoln from across Nebraska who will be in town for the weekend and want to do something new. Go Big Red!” – Abby Bartholomew, Escape Lincoln
Now that we’ve presented an extensive range of options, it is our hope that you’ll be able to draw inspiration for your next opportunity to not only entertain your clients, but do so with flare. While we often spend most of our time in the business world educating people about the benefits of our offerings, sometimes it’s more about taking the opportunity to simply entertain and see where the time spent together takes you. As put very eloquently by Walt Disney, “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate and hope they were entertained.” The point is that there is always something you can learn by simply spending time with one another outside of the environment in which you do business.