Main & Luxe Magazine

Connect to the Luxe Life of Main Street!

By Ashley South

The term “ladies who lunch” was coined in the early 1960s by the magazine Women’s Wear Daily based on a trend within wealthy middle-aged women at that time. The moniker was reserved for those women who devoted their afternoons to restaurant outings within their social circle, spending hours in mindless conversation, usually over a cocktail…or several. Truman Capote lost all his wealthy, socialite best friends, whom he affectionately called his “Swans,” when he published the story “La Côte Basque 1965” revealing their gossip and stories in the fictitious ladies-who-lunch story.

For the women we interviewed, the term is no longer about gossip and cocktails. And we argue you should embrace the phrase! A new group of ladies who lunch has emerged, and it’s inspiring. Main & Luxe sat down with three women from our community: a stay-at-home mom, a woman in finance, and a solo-prenuer. No matter their background, the women we spoke with are using their lunch hour to expand their mind and connect, either with themselves or others. They’re spending the time they have away from the workplace/household to explore interests important to them.

Lopa Dash, stay-at-home mom
Lopa Dash, of the Ashbury neighborhood, moved here from India four years ago. Her husband’s work transferred them to the Chicagoland area, and they chose Naperville because of the schools. Lopa has a degree in Information Technology, but she and her husband made the decision for her to stay home with their children (7, 10, and 11) when they moved here. Four days a week, she maintains a regular schedule after dropping the kids off at school. She cleans up after breakfast, starts prepping dinner, makes school lunches for the next day, and then goes for a walk to reset herself. On Fridays, she lunches.

Lopa’s Friday lunches are usually a trip to a state or local park to walk around and make notes of things to talk with her kids about regarding the park. Coming from India, the scenery and wildlife in Illinois is ever new to Lopa. These were times to relax by herself.

In October of 2021, Lopa joined a Facebook group for moms in her neighborhood. After a while, Lopa started to invite the women from her neighborhood group out with her on her Friday adventures. She would simply advise where she was going and at what time. Several of the ladies would meet her: they’ve visited Starved Rock, Lake Geneva, and the Morton Arboretum. Her “lunches” were often stretched to a few hours. “Every Friday, it is ME time. I use it to reset and invite others to join me!” When the ladies finally sit down for their meal, she admits that they don’t just talk about kids, they talk about drinks, wines specifically! Lopa has become a lightning rod for the neighborhood for self-care and adventure.

Lopa Dash’s Friday adventure
Starved Rock State Park,
Deer Park Township, IL

Jessica McLaughlin, finance executive
Jessica McLaughlin, a leader in the financial industry, uses her power hour to focus on her own professional career strategy. See, Jessica took a new job recently. She went from an established team where she could easily be social with them via lunching to a newly established team that requires her leadership to bring structure and an established presence.

She tells us she sees people spending a lot of time reflecting on their original ten-year plan. Many people have left their corporate roles as part of the “Great Resignation; however, many people like Jessica remain happy with what they are doing and excited about their future at their current company. Prior to accepting her new role, Jessica felt herself constantly looking for the next thing. But does not find herself doing that right now. She has her finger on the pulse but is not taking as many calls.

Today, Jessica spends her lunch hour focused on the particulars of her new role reading and meeting with her team trying to get herself up to speed and more acquainted with the technical side of the business, the current market, and needs of her clients. From a corporate standpoint, she wants to take advantage of being the person that shows her permanency and commitment in the face of corporate human resource uncertainty.

Jessica McLaughlin,
Finance Exec

Alexis Rago, small business entrepreneur
Alexis Rago is founder and owner of Marketing Mana LLC. Alexis knows firsthand the importance of lunches and that they’re not at all defined by any stereotype. She blends them all!

Alexis is a team of one. At Marketing Mana, her vision is to create a less noisy marketing space. She works to empower business owners and ideate strategic tactics, often over lunch together. Alexis remarked, “it is incredible how much I learn about a business during these lunches.” She told us about a recent one she had with a client who needed help naming her company. They spent lunch brainstorming and walked out of the restaurant with a name!

Alexis also uses her lunch as serious power hours for her own business—working on ideas and strategies to grow. And, at times, Alexis uses her lunch to reset when she feels stuck. “As women, we are so hard on ourselves, it is okay to have a lunch just to be lunch with a cocktail or two thrown in.”

Her next program “Work on Your Business Retreat” is April 21–24 and a little longer than lunch. Through this program, she is providing business owners the opportunity to work on their business and marketing strategy together as a soundboard of ideas from people who have similar experiences, fears, and goals.

Alexis Rago, Owner,
Marketing Mana

Lopa spends her time re-centering and inviting others to join her. Jessica spends her time career planning and strategizing for her future. And Alexis spends her time building her business and collaborating on ideas. These women have taken a unique approach to the time they carve out of their day. Embrace the phrase, get out there, and be a lady who lunches!!

More Dine!

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