Lisa Vanderpump, star of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, dished to The Hollywood Reporter on all the dos and don'ts of power lunching. While Housewives is in its third season, Vanderpump also stars in the new Bravo series Vanderpump Rules which premiered this month. The reality star is also a successful restaurateur with Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills and SUR in West Hollywood. Check out more lunch etiquette tips from A-listers, and for a complete look at THR's Power Lunch List, check out the Feb. 1 issue out now.
On using phones:
I think generally you should put your phone aside and then you warn somebody in advance. If it’s somebody you see regularly that you have a very casual relationship with, I think it’s OK then. If it’s a meeting, you should set it aside unless you’re expecting a call and then say, "I’m sorry, I have to take this."
Having a drink:
I come from a very different sensibility from Europe. Most people, especially at business lunches, drink. I wish they did more here because they’d spend more money. Often, people just come in for a glass of water and a salad, which isn’t as much fun. I lived in England my whole life, and you’re not shipped off to Betty Ford if you order a glass of wine at lunch, so I think there is room here for having a glass and relaxing and not putting yourself under so much pressure.
I’m a real stickler for time. I think it’s a big message if someone invited you, and it's important. I think ten minutes is the maximum otherwise you’re really saying to someone, "Your time is less important than mine." I think that’s a huge message. I’m very punctual.
What to never order:
You never want to order spaghetti Bolognese. I think pasta can be so difficult. I would ask for a penne, something bite-sized because you don’t want it flicking around on your shirt or their shirt. That’s the first one. Absolutely no-no. Positively hazardous with the long spaghetti noodle flying. I want to look at the end of the lunch the same way that I started and not like I’ve been wrestling with a spaghetti Bolognese. Corn on the cob, not that anywhere serves it, but theres no good way to eat corn on the cob. That’s what you eat when you’ve been married ten years.
Talking to others during a lunch:
I don’t think too long. Stand up great them, introduce them to a person. If you stand up to greet them, when you go to sit back down its sort of a closing statement to say, I’m going back to my lunch.
When to break bad news:
It depends on whether you want to discuss it further. Gosh, then you’re going to be a hypocrite if you're sitting thrilled about everything and then dump it on them when the bills come. That’s when you need a glass of wine. I wouldn’t have lunch with anyone I was going to break bad news to, unless I was looking to resolve it and then I would do it at the beginning and look for the resolution over lunch.
Who picks up the check:
You have to use your judgment. If someone invites you, then that person should pick it up. I firmly believe it. If you really want to pay it, as you walk in you give the card so that it's done and there’s no struggle.
What time is best:
It varies. I’m always surprised at how early people take lunch here. Villa Blanca opens at 11:30 and usually the restaurant is pretty full by 12:15. That’s too early for me. Business lunches, 1 o’clock is probably the best time.
Avoiding a lunch date:
It’s tricky, especially if they say, pick a date, any date next week. That’s the worst one. For me I say, next week is impossible, maybe the week after. If somebody tells you they can’t do something for a couple of weeks it’s a pretty good indication that they don’t want to do it.
Important people prefer a certain table. There’s two schools of thought there: one is a table where they can hold court and they want to be seen or the other table where people want to hide in the corner if they don’t want to be seen.