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Tom VanAntwerp
Tom VanAntwerp

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Let's Do Lunch (Instead of Meetups)

Confession: I'm terrible about attending Meetups.

Most Meetups where I live happen from 6pm to 8pm or later. After a long day of work, I'm tired and want to go home. And 99% of the time, I do go home. When you're exhausted, it unappealing to forego rest and relaxation for the same cheap beer and pizza that every meetup has. I'm in my 30's; my body can't handle that anymore!

Old people just can't eat pizza like they used to.

It's not that I don't want to meet other developers and share knowledge. I do! But I don't do well with the late-night format. I can't be the only one.

So I've got a question: why don't we do lunch events instead?

I work with lots of economists rather than developers, and they attend so many lunch events! But I've never encountered developer lunches. Do such developer lunches exist? Have they been tried, but there was no interest? (I found a breakfast once, which was great! But then they moved it to the evening...)

Am I just being a grumpy old person? Or should developer lunches be a thing? If you had the choice between Meetups as usual or developer lunches, what would you choose?

Top comments (12)

molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her)

I would definitely attend lunch meetups and I LOVE this idea!

I feel the exact same way about after work Meetups. I am someone who starts my work day at 7:30am(which is pretty early for most devs) so I definitely hate having to stay downtown until 8pm or later.

austinstanding profile image
Austin Standing

I'm in the same boat, I start my workday at 6:30am so I don't usually have an interest in hanging around or leaving and coming back. I also go to bed at 9:00 and get stingy about my sleep :)

I've been places that have done "lunch & learn" meetings every week and it was great. We used to do them where I am now, but died some time ago. Let's bring it back!

molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her)

You are speaking my language! I'm in bed by 9 and asleep before 10!

We actually have had a couple inner company lunch and learn events. Expanding them to be more like a Meetup and include others would be fun and probably not too hard since our office is right downtown Chicago.

hamatti profile image
Juha-Matti Santala • Edited

That's a great idea and I'd hope to see more lunch "meetups" too. When I was starting Turku ❤️ Frontend, my original idea was to start it as a lunch & learn session with 4-5 people. But then I talked about it with people and there was so much more interest that I decided to go with a meetup route.

For me as an organizer, it's much easier to organize things outside office hours than taking time off from work in the middle of the day. That's the #1 reason I am not doing lunch time events.

There's one easy solution for the problem: start organizing lunch events. I'm sure you'll find people who share your ideas (especially people with young children who often cannot join evening meetups).

hamatti profile image
Juha-Matti Santala

I do however eat lunch with fellow developers regularly, multiple times a week. Sometimes with my team mates, sometimes with colleagues from other projects within the company and sometimes with developers who work in other companies.

It's a wonderful way to catch up, hear new ideas and build relationships. But we don't have presentations nor anything big set up. I just send people message on Facebook, Slack or LinkedIn and ask them for lunch.

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 

I organize a Meetup and completely agree on the cheap beer and pizza - it's repulsive to me, but unfortunately budgets have to be realistic and it's incredibly difficult to have a company sponsor you while asking for 100 dollars and up for food expenses. It's just not realistic. We tried it a few times, splitting subs from Jersey Mikes or sandwiches from Panera, but everyone was still hungry (or took more than their fare share and others went without) and the expense was easily double/triple that of pizza. It really sucks.

I love the idea of lunch meetups, unfortunately in my area, it would be very difficult for people to make it to the location and back, especially people just starting out or those that don't have the flexibility you would need to do so.

I'm interested in solutions to these problems because the struggle is real!

bzah profile image

Where I work we have such "lunch meetup" every first Thursday of the month.
It has been more than a year since we started it so I can say that it can work quite well, as long as it is well organized.

Here are some implicit rules we follow :

  • It is scheduled. People must return to work afterward, so the hour must be respected and we can't afford to wait for everyone to arrive.
  • It is a short meetup. For the same reasons as above, we follow a specific pattern with 30 minutes of slideshow/live-coding, followed by 30 minutes of discussions and questions.
  • We kinda allow people to eat during the session as long as the food is not too smelly and they keep the room clean (we use our biggest meeting room for this, but a "real" meeting could be happening there in the afternoon)
  • We offer some refreshments and snacks but we expect people to have a "real" lunch.
  • When we are in the mood, we even broadcast the "show" for people who could not assist in person but still want to follow the presentation. By the way, we are still not satisfied with our tool to do that, if you have suggestions I'm listening :)
  • And last but not least we have the agreement and approval of the management team because it helps improve the company's image.

One limit is we only allow internal people to propose a subject for now. I personally think it is a mistake but it helps control the quality of the presentation. Plus we are offered 1 day to prepare the show (slides, speech...).

So the best advice I could give it is to consult your management and see if they are willing to help you setup this sort of meetup where you work (just tell them they could meet amazing talents to hire and they might accept).

I hopes this may help and motivate people do the same where their work.

And just in case, here is a link for the next event (in french) :

(Sorry for bad english btw, frenchy french here)

devdammak profile image
Damola Adekoya

In my country here in Nigeria many meet up are always during weekend... But some might be weekdays... And those meet up it is something that mostly start in morning till evening/afternoon...

I don't know or have the kinda experience you guys have concerning evening meetup after work...

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

This is ok if everyone who wants to attend works within about 5 minutes of the place you're having lunch. You're also then at the mercy of wherever you chose in terms of how long it takes them to get you your food, unless you're putting it on yourself. If you're putting it on yourself, you have to remember different people's dietary requirements, too.

I know I feel like if I'm not working through my lunch break then it is very much a break from work, so I don't know how I feel about the idea.

tdwright profile image
Tom Wright

My wife's shifts effectively make me a single parent during the week, so I can almost never get to Meetups. When I do make it to a Meetup, I almost never know I'll be able to before the day itself, which means I can never commit to giving a talk and sometimes miss out on attending popular, oversubscribed sessions.

Lunch time Meetups would be so much easier for me. I would attend the crap out of them.

jsrn profile image

I love the idea of this, especially as my work hours are flexible enough that I can usually take a long lunch and make up for it later.

The main catch is for people whose offices are a bit out of the way. I don't work in the city centre, so add 20-30 minutes of travel each way to the meet, and it's not really doable.

All things being equal, I would prefer lunchtime meetups no question, but the fact that my lunch break is sandwiched by having to be at work makes it logistically challenging.

sudiukil profile image
Quentin Sonrel • Edited

Lunch is usually harder to organize for many reasons:

  • time, as lunch usually takes quite some time, especially in a restaurant
  • cost, lunch meals usually cost more than a few evening pizzas
  • food, same, some people can't/won't eat some types of food (i.e. vegans or people allergic to gluten)

I guess that's why lunches aren't more common.

Now as for what I would prefer: none actually, because I am a grumpy (but young) person who doesn't even want to meet up with colleagues (or otherwise) :D