Bank directors don’t need to be reminded that food is a major part of any excursion. Although memories of some destinations may fade, group members can always relate in great detail where they’ve had the crispiest fried chicken, the most succulent shrimp cocktail and a decadent raspberry torte.
Imagine that in addition to such culinary treats, a polar bear, a priceless Rembrandt painting, or the sights and sounds of a tugboat joined your group’s dinner table. Most restaurants would have a hard time competing with that kind of ambiance.
The possibilities are limited only by a bank director’s imagination.
Exotic zoos, world-renowned museums and spectacular waterfronts are just a few of the unforgettable locations where groups can have a catered meal. Many fascinating venues are well aware of this bank travel pleaser and make it easy to enjoy a most delectable lunch or dinner. Here are some examples:
The Toledo Zoo is famous for its approximately 9,000 animals representing some 800 species and its efforts in conservation and animal breeding: Four out of the five polar bears born in the United States have been born at the Toledo Zoo.
And the zoo delights group travelers with the opportunity to dine on lobster and prime rib while going nose-to-nose with those polar bears.
“Inside our Arctic Encounter, where the gigantic glass viewing area offers panoramic views of polar bears simply taking a casual swim, groups can have a catered dinner that isn’t just a boxed lunch — we’re talking outstanding cuisine prepared by our in-house chef,” said Michelle Doyle, group sales manager.
“We also offer catered meals, from hot dogs to a clam bake, inside our African Overlook. Here, groups sit under thatched-roof tiki huts and enjoy the outdoors they share with giraffes, zebras and wildebeests. These are just spectacular places to enjoy spectacular meals,” Doyle said. “We all look forward to a good meal, especially on our travels. At the Toledo Zoo, we take advantage of that knowledge and give our group travelers the opportunity to have a most memorable meal in a most memorable location.”
Add class to your bass
At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, home to more than 225,000 objects, including arms and armor, modern and contemporary art, costumes and textiles, and even American presidential china, groups can enjoy poached salmon and house-cured olives on the museum’s East Balcony, which overlooks the majestic Great Stair Hall.
“While during nonticketed special exhibitions, groups are always welcome to dine in our restaurant — Granite Hill — the East Balcony is a public space, and the tables are reserved specifically for the group. During ticketed special exhibitions, the setup fee is free,” said Rebecca Winnington, group sales assistant.
Like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, museums often charge a setup fee to dine in such high-brow locations, and it is well worth a simple inquiry to discover those economically advantageous times and the special exhibitions to enjoy.
“Some of our upcoming ticketed special exhibitions for 2011 and early 2012 are ‘Robert Capucci: Art Into Fashion,’ ‘Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus’ and ‘Van Gogh Up Close,’” said Winnington.
Eat with our ancestors
A different museum experience and a different dining experience are available in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where the Johnstown Discovery network offers stories of the city from immigration to the 1889 flood to the steel industry.
Hot, catered buffet lunches can be served on site at the Heritage Discovery Center, where diners are surrounded by images and interactive displays about why immigrants from around the world decided to settle in the Allegheny Mountains. Appropriately, “immigrant pail” lunches are also available.
Suggested itineraries including lunch are led by a step-on guide and lead group travelers through the Heritage Discovery Center, the Iron and Steel Gallery, the Johnstown Flood Museum, and the Wagner-Ritter House and Garden, and conclude with a ride on the Inclined Plane, one of the steepest vehicular inclined plane in the world.
Bring your camera to lunch
A variety of scenic locations are possibilities for a catered meal in Door County, Wisconsin, a 75-mile-long peninsula famous for lighthouses, state parks and hundreds of miles of shoreline.
At the Woodwalk Gallery, an 1890s barn and straw-bale-construction studio featuring 47 regional artists and their large-scale landscapes, groups can enjoy the rustic construction and outdoor gardens and walkways while dining on their food of choice.
“This is truly an authentic and inspiring space,” said Mary Denis, director of marketing and sales with the Door County Visitors Bureau.
At the Peninsula State Park on Green Bay, two shelters create a picnic atmosphere. Before lunch, groups can explore the Eagle Bluff Light House and then enjoy the sights of sky-high bluffs, white-crested waves, kites and kayakers.
On Sturgeon Bay, the Door County Maritime Museum offers bank groups a casual or fancy feast in an outside area perfect for viewing the sights overlooking the bay.
“This is the place to learn about our maritime history and why Door County is what it is,” said Denis. “The galleries include scale models of ships built in Sturgeon Bay, Indian dugouts and birch bark canoes, and an exhibit on the raising of the George M. Humphrey, one of the largest ships to ever have been salvaged, refitted and sailed. Groups can also take a tour of an entirely renovated tug.
“An added bonus is that the museum is hosting an exhibit, ‘Ghosts! Haunted Lighthouses of the Great Lakes.’ through January 2012. It would be great to have a theme to your tour, lunch included, that adds a little ghostly atmosphere to your day.”
Catered meals at these and other locations in Door County can be arranged through a variety of vendors suggested by the Door County Visitors Bureau.