I met with my new friend Audrey Wong Chung today. She and I spoke at Morning Edition, The Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber’s breakfast networking event last month. She is the founder and CEO of Beliza Design, a fashion company that specializes in luxury goods for men and women (yes, I stole that from the website). Basically, from what I could see, she designs and sells beautiful jewelry and other accessories made out of some unusual materials. You might want to check out her site to see what they have to offer.
At any rate, I thought I would try out a new location for coffee today — Graham’s Restaurant — a restaurant located in the Kensington Court Hotel here in Ann Arbor. For a dinner date or a meal when you are staying at the Kensington, Graham’s is quite good. How does it stack up as a spot to do networking? Let’s see.
Name: Graham’s Restaurant
Pros: Food is good. Relatively quiet. Free wi-fi. Booths are relatively secluded and there are a number of separate sections to the restaurant. It also has an excellent location for those coming in from out of town.
Cons: Some limited hours. If you are a fan of the fancy coffee drinks, this may not be your cup of tea.
I thought it might be good for Audrey and I to meet at Graham’s partially because it was roughly between the two of us and partially because I wanted to introduce her to a friend of mine, Erin Cebulski, who is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Kensington Court. I’d been there before for dinner a while back, but hadn’t had a chance to meet someone there for coffee.
I arrived a little before Audrey and camped out on one of the loveseats in the common lounge area. They had the fire lit in the fireplace which felt quite nice as the day had that crisp feel of early autumn in the air. I pulled out my netbook and was pleasantly surprised to find that Kensington had free wi-fi available. I was able to check and answer some emails before Audrey showed up.
When she arrived we moved into the main seating area and found an unoccupied booth. We were scheduled to meet at 1:30 — well after the lunch crowd had departed, so finding a seat wasn’t difficult at all. The wait staff was attentive and didn’t seem to have a problem with us just getting coffee (or lemonade in my case). The seating was comfortable and given that there were few others in the restaurant, conversation was very easy.
Probably the only minor issues with the place were that, first, if you are a big fan of the complicated beverages that you might get at your local coffee shop, you are going to be out of luck here. Second, the restaurant is closed from 3pm to 5pm to prepare for dinner. Make sure you plan any visits accordingly.
With the exception of these two caveats, though, Graham’s would make an excellent place to meet for coffee or lunch. It has the added benefit of being right off the highway, so anyone coming in from out of town doesn’t have to try to understand the occasionally confusing streets of Ann Arbor. That’s one less obstacle to making connections that count.