What better way is there to get through some of these bitter winter days than lunch with some friends?
Which, of course, leads to the latest chapter of our quarterly virtual lunch dates with those from near and far. Here are some lunch buddies I would find quite interesting in the annual winter edition of “Lunch With …”:
• Melissa Shriver-Hackamack: Melissa is an integral part of the brain trust that makes the Adams County Fair possible. I would try and twist her arm over lunch to having the Oak Ridge Boys make a return visit to the fair. Lunch at: Zoup! The selection of soups and sandwiches is perfect, especially when spending a cold day in February debating the greatest hits of the Oak Ridge Boys.
• Nolan Arenado: What better way to introduce the new Cardinals third baseman to the St. Louis area than lunch at one of the most recognized destinations? Lunch at: Arenado needs to be introduced to Riverside Smoke House. Of course, the ribs are great, but so is the underrated offering of baked beans.
• Steve Labs: The store director at the Hy-Vee on Broadway is a huge race fan, especially NASCAR. If we hurry, the two of us could reach the Daytona International Speedway in time for Sunday’s race on the road course. Lunch at: We can discuss travel plans over sandwiches at the nearby Firehouse Subs, then return to Hy-Vee for dessert at the store’s always-tasty bakery.
• Mark Harmon: Sure, “NCIS” has been on television forever (actually, since 2003), and I still find Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs character fascinating. I’m old enough to remember when Harmon was a quarterback at UCLA in the early 1970s, but it’s his longstanding success as an actor and TV executive that have made him a media superstar. Lunch at: Coach House. I hear Mark is one of those guys who likes breakfast at all times of the day. Like me.
• Pat Atwell: Spending a lunch hour talking baseball with the Culver-Stockton College athletic director is always a plus. And what better for lunch than a batch of Coneys, with all the trimmings, using Nathan’s world-famous hot dogs? Lunch at: Atwell’s office on the campus of Culver-Stockton, one of the school’s hidden treasures. I’m sure that sports information director John Schild would cater the intimate gathering by getting us a pizza from nearby Primo’s.
• J.J. Watt: The free-agent NFL defensive lineman is rumored to be heading to my favorite team, the Cleveland Browns. I’ll try and persuade him. Lunch at: Texas Roadhouse. I’m pretty sure Watt is not a salad guy. I’ll try and persuade him to go to Cleveland by making sure he gets his fill of as many prime cuts as he desires.
• Rick Putnam: The man known as “Traditional Rick,” both at work as general manager at Buffalo Wild Wings and among his friends, loves to talk sports. I’ll soon enjoy gaining his wisdom and insight on the NCAA basketball tournament. Lunch at: Where else, but Buffalo Wild Wings in the Prairie Crossing retail center. I’ll have my wings on the mild side, thank you.
• Clint Eastwood: I’ve enjoyed this legendary actor, who is now 90 years old, since his days as Rowdy Yates on “Rawhide.” I think over the course of a simple lunch hour there would be so many stories to appreciate and so much information on life in general to digest. Lunch at: IHOP. I have a feeling Clint would down a few big stacks of pancakes, probably accented with one of those berry-type syrups. Me? I’ll go with some scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage links and white toast with raspberry jam.