Bob Jeffrey | JWT



Our business is very competitive and an essential part of being successful is establishing personal relationships with our clients. So much of our work is about trust, and it’s important that there is an emotional connection in place when challenging situations arise. I find that getting away from the office, from phones and email, and enjoying a nice meal allows for a more focused conversation. There is a certain candour that comes from a relaxed restaurant setting, but as everyone is so busy these days, I avoid long, drawn-out meals.

I am on the road 60 per cent of the year, but when I am in New York my favourite place to take clients and colleagues is Sette Mezzo [pictured]. Increasingly, I appreciate that less is more, and there is nothing trendy or faddish about this place. I consider it an extension of my family kitchen and owner Oriente Mania always takes good care of my guests with a warm greeting, excellent service, delicious antipasto and my regular table, number 15, which is tucked away in a quiet corner. This place is old world – it doesn’t take credit cards – and the veal Milanese is unrivalled outside Italy. I am convinced that one of my best hires, our North America creative director Jeff Benjamin, was won over to JWT after a Saturday brunch we shared there.

For lunch, Casa Lever near our Midtown offices is perfect for a wide array of clients. The food – Italian – is universally loved and the atmosphere is buzzy and energetic, which people really respond to. The private banquettes and art by Andy Warhol give it a classy feel. Another top pick is Sidecar at PJ Clarke’s, a Midtown institution that serves great American hamburgers in a pub-like setting. I find that Europeans – particularly our Swiss clients, such as Rolex, who traditionally wear a suit and tie – like this kind of casual restaurant, and they actually chose it for a recent dinner party. Other clients, such as Nokia, love ice hockey and I’ve often entertained the CMO over hot dogs at a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden or while watching tennis at the US Open.

Combining great food with informality shows that as an agency we are open-minded and down-to-earth. I’m careful not to send the wrong message and tend to entertain modestly. I often choose places such as Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster in Harlem, where the vibrant atmosphere and blackened catfish are both excellent. I find that our clients also like breakfasts at New York diners, where they are fed well but feel at ease.

I spend a great deal of time in London and, because there’s so much traffic, I tend to pick venues near to our Knightsbridge offices, such as Zafferano, which I find warm and conducive to quiet conversation, and for breakfast The Rib Room at Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel – a great place to start the day. In Asia, I prefer restaurants that are multicultural and offer something for everyone on their menus. Capital M in Beijing fits the bill and also has a great terrace for cocktails overlooking the Forbidden City. I like The Governor’s Residence in Myanmar, too, where I typically forego my regular egg-white omelette and join my colleagues for the local mohinga, which is a rice-noodle dish served with fish soup.

Over time, I’ve won business during meals, including one memorable brunch at The Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel, where the soon-to-be client loved the charismatic environment of this iconic spot and came over to the agency. Our business is certainly dependent on the quality of the ideas and the work, but getting there often rests on a personal connection. Sharing a meal is the perfect medium for this.

Courtesy of

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