“The group started a year ago as a way to promote Murrieta restaurants and to give them a lunch crowd,” said Kimberly Davidson, Business Development Manager for the City of Murrieta and the group’s organizer. “I called it ‘Murrieta Lunch with Friends’ because I wanted it to be a fun, friendly group of people, and it is!”
The group, which has 256 members on its Facebook “group” page, typically gets 15-20 attendees at each lunch. According to Davidson, this attendance level is perfect for the group’s intended mission.
“Our real point is to help promote the smaller, local restaurants that may have a tighter marketing budget,” Davidson said. “If we can bring a crowd to them as well as some recognition on Facebook, it helps them quite a bit.”
Murrieta Lunch with Friends meets every Wednesday at noon at a different Murrieta location. The only advertising they do for their next meeting place is via their Facebook page and other members “liking” and re-posting the week’s chosen location.
“Having the City’s support for a lunch group like this has helped out my business and other Murrieta restaurants this past year,” said Adam Bouvet, Partner and General Manager of The Mill Restaurant in Historic Downtown Murrieta. “What a great way to promote and help the smaller guys.”
The City’s support of the lunch group is in allowing Davidson to post about the group on Facebook and allowing her the time to meet with the group once a week for the lunches.
"Helping small business succeed in such a creative way is a key part of our economic development strategy as they are the employers most responsible for generating new jobs,” said Murrieta Mayor Rick Gibbs.
There is no fee to attend the lunches, only the cost of the lunch ordered off the menu and everyone pays for their own. Businesses are also encouraged to bring raffle prizes that are given away via business cards during the lunch. Raffle prizes typically include free tickets to Aces Comedy Club, gift certificates to local restaurants and an occasional bottle of wine.
Although not the purpose of the group, networking is a natural by-product that happens when people congregate and have a chance to talk and Murrieta Lunch with Friends is no exception. As such, several business deals have occurred over the past year.
“This group has enabled me to make new and lasting friendships, while having support from other businesses to help my business grow,” said April Vidal, owner of Miss April’s Dance with Murrieta Parks and Recreation for 24 years. “Our lunch locations are awesome and the food is always great!”
The name, chosen by Davidson at its inception seems to be very appropriate for this lunch group that can often be heard laughing and having fun at their latest lunch venue.
“I attend the lunches almost every week. The quality of the relationships I have encountered is second to none,” said Andy Abeles, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Real Estate and the lunch group’s weekly photographer. “What a great group; I've made some nice friends and good business contacts, not to mention eating in some different eateries I didn't even know existed!”
The idea for the group was originally proposed to Davidson by Ricardo Cabellero, a hair stylist in Murrieta who wanted to meet new people and help local restaurants. Davidson saw the opportunity in the idea and quickly formed the group.
Murrieta Lunch with Friends will be celebrating its one-year anniversary at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at The Mill Restaurant, the venue of its first meeting place 12 months ago. Anyone is welcome to attend.
“You do not need to be a business person,” Davidson said. “You just need to be a hungry person with money for your own lunch. We love to meet new people and encourage everyone to check us out.”
For more information: Kimberly Davidson 951-461-6003 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect with the group on their Facebook page, Murrieta Lunch with Friends.
—News release submitted by the City of Murrieta Economic Development Department