Every Group of Friends Needs a “Dinner Club”

Picture it, New Orleans, March of 2016… (in my best Sophia Petrillo voice) three of my girlfriends went out to dinner one night. As they sat there eating & chatting, they talked about how we could manage to get all of us together more often. It seems like months would pass sometimes with us not seeing one another, as life tends to get in the way. Between home life, working, and other obligations, it was next to impossible to ever nail down a date that wasn’t attached to a birthday or holiday on the weekends. Isn’t that everyone’s problem these days? It is not that you don’t want to get together, it’s being stuck in the endless cycle of “Let’s plan something soon!” and jam-packed schedules. That was the night that “Dinner Club” was born.

The rules of Dinner Club are very simple:

  1. Dinner is on the last Wednesday every month at 6:30 or 7 pm. We live from Kenner to Belle Chasse to Mandeville, so this time usually works best for us as we all have to get off, have our home lives settled, and avoid the relentless rush hour traffic. Wednesdays are normally an anti-climactic day and a nice mid-week, end-of-the-month break from cooking.
  2. If you can’t make it, we will see you next time. It rarely gets moved unless there is a holiday or absolutely no one can make it. Sometimes there are 3 of us, sometimes there are 9. The nights when we can all make it are the best but are still far and few between as life gets busier. It is always exciting when everyone is in, especially after one of our members moved to Texas. We do like a good brunch however and do make the exception from time to time.
  3. No one is allowed to invite other people, especially without discussing. Okay, okay, this seems a little Mean Girl style but I promise it is for good reason. From the very beginning, we made this rule so that we would keep the group small & to our close friends. Of course, we love other people, and there is a time to invite them out as well, but Dinner Club is not it. It’s not to be exclusive but just meant to keep the group a safe space where we can discuss anything we want freely. I have best friends outside of the group and I spend time with them separately. We aren’t Regina Georges I swear!
  4. The person that gets the star picks the next place. The only fair way to pick restaurants without discussion & debate was to come up with a drawing system. Whoever attends that month’s dinner gets to pick from pieces of paper, one will have a star. You get the star, you get to choose where we go next. This keeps it fun & you are truly allowed to pick wherever you want to go – no rules! We’ve been to Carretta’s, M Bistro, Ruth’s Chris, Banana Blossom, Lula, Vincent’s, Legacy, Muriel’s, Briquette, Domenica, Italian Barrell, Lola’s, Copper Vine, New Orleans Social House, Impastatos, Le Crepe Nanou, Nacho Mamas, Bacchanal, Brown Butter, Otra Vez, Gattuso’s, Austin’s, La Thai, Shaya, Le Petite Grocery, Jack Rose, Sun Ray Cafe, Avo, Flemming’s, Trenasse, Bourbon House, The Bower, Ancora Pizza. We got to go to O’Briens, Mizado, and Bar Francis that ain’t der no mo. I know I am forgetting places, but you get the gist. At this point, it is hard for us to find a good place that hasn’t been picked yet. My foodie friends love to watch me squirm as I am not the most adventurous eater. I have mastered the art of having a good salad, it is almost impossible to mess up a salad!

Next month will make six years since we started Dinner Club and we are still going strong. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve moved it to a brunch a couple of times and stayed out way too long. I am beyond thankful that we have spent the time we have together. Even if I only see them once a month (which a lot of times is the case), it is time well spent. It is so easy to lose touch with people, become disconnected, and not spend any time away from our families as we get older. Having a set time to nurture our friendships was not only crucial but so beneficial! I consider us lucky to have the group of friends that we do, but I also recognize that it’s because we put in the work to keep it that way. Carving out two hours a month has been good for me as a person, a wife, a mom, and a friend. I spend so much time on everyone else, having a glass of wine and talking trash with my friends is food for my soul. Grab your favorite gals and make your own dinner club happen. You will need 26 reminder texts to all to get there, but once you do – it is so worth it!

Dana Wattigney
Moving from Nebraska in middle school, Dana considers herself a New Orleanian 25 years later. She now lives in Belle Chasse with her husband Ryan, 12-year-old Mila, and 8-year-old Rex. As the Executive Director of the YMCA in her community, she is very involved in all aspects of family life. You can find her on the weekend doing DIY projects, cheering on LSU or the Saints, and spending time with her family. A lover of all revelry, there is no festival, concert, or event that she won't go to! Catch her with the Krewe of Cleopatra each Mardi Gras. She gets out of town with her kids as much as possible, they enjoy the outdoors, especially the mountains & the beach. Affectionately known as "Dana Dolittle" to her friends, you can expect her to have a random animal she is trying to help at any given time. Dana loves to write & says there are no topics off limits.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here