Howard Stier, a writer and producer used to taking lunch meetings at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, pitched his latest crime-style documentary series over a Popeye's 99-cent lunch -- two pieces of chicken, legs and thighs only.
The economic downturn has hit Tinseltown, with producers like Stier looking to cut corners whenever they can, including downsizing the power lunch to fast-food restaurants.
Stier, a former crime reporter who's worked for "Entertainment Tonight," didn't flinch when another producer invited him to Popeye's to discuss the TV project.
"Every mental case, hobo and crusty runaway in Hollywood was there," Stier says. "A fast-food place is a great place to take a meeting, just as good as a more upscale restaurant without the valet parking and the slow service. Nobody bothers you, and you don't have to buy a cup of coffee."
Fast food power lunches not that uncommon in Hollywood. Stier says for a class-conscious city, Angelinos love their fast food, and many in and around the edges of show biz (the producer Stier met with works primarily in adult films) will lunch at McDonald's or Wendy's -- just don't expect them to admit it.
Joe Gressis, a producer whose company Secret Handshake Entertainment is about to release "A Little Help," starring Jenna Fischer from "The Office," no longer frequents expensive Hollywood eateries. He occasionally dines at the more socially acceptable fast casual restaurant Hamburger Hamlet.
"We had a meeting with John Carpenter at Hamburger Hamlet," Gressis says. "It's only a couple of dollars more than McDonald's." Slightly more -- a cheeseburger there is $10.95.
Gressis swore off lavish lunch meetings after he spent $50 for a cup of coffee, an ice tea and a few waters at the Raffles L'Ermitage hotel in Beverly Hills.
Stier says that when his crime show goes into production, he'll happily return to meeting at the Polo Lounge. Until then, he's content with the 99-cent special at Popeye's.
Have you ever had a business meeting at a fast-food restaurant? Tell us about it in the comments below.