Let’s face it: for women, it can be hard to make friends as an adult. Think about your the average day: get up, pour coffee, head to work, maybe hit the gym afterward, then go home. Maybe hang with coworkers — but that’s obviously not the same as those youthful, close relationships. It’s even worse for anyone who has just moved to a new city; the lack of deep connections leads to loneliness.
Yes, adulting sucks.
Shelly Long, co-founder of But First, Let’s Brunch is trying to change that. Her membership-only subscription service targets women ages 24 to 36 looking to make friendships.
“For most of our lives, friends just appeared on the playground, at soccer practice or that one frat party,” she says. “Suddenly, you graduate, move to a city for a job or significant other and realize you don’t know how to meet anyone. Or maybe you’re staying in your hometown but everyone else is moving away, and you realize you don’t know anyone and you don’t know where to begin. Brunch is a great way to approach meeting new people because it’s a fun and informal environment that still allows for conversation and a mimosa or two if someone is so inclined. It can be casual or formal, but the beauty of brunch is that it’s adaptable to whatever it needs to be.”
Long launched her program in Atlanta in 2017. Now, the service is available in Houston. It works like this: members sign up and pay a monthly membership fee. They’re given access to a private Facebook page where they can connect with other members and see whose interests match their own. Each brunch takes place at a different restaurant, and Long makes sure to keep the groups small.
“We limit the size of each brunch to six people which allows for real connections to be made (and no one is screaming across the table or wondering why the other end is having more fun),” she says. “In addition, each brunch has a brunch ambassador, either myself or another outgoing member we’ve met and hired. The ambassador is there to facilitate conversation, help be a buffer for everyone, ensure participants are having a great time, and to encourage conversations.”
Restaurants are selected based on recommendations from members, as well as from Long and her team “reading lots and lots of Yelp reviews.” As the Houston service takes shape, she’s also looking to partner with Bayou City eateries who might give members a little something special in exchange for being a regular on the But First, Let’s Brunch calendar.
Long says that when members sign up, they tell But First, Let’s Brunch about their interests. The team then focuses on putting together events for women with similar interests, so the guests will have something in comment to talk about.
“We work to connect groups that live in the same general area of the city so that the brunch location is not a burden,” she says. “We’ve taken the legwork out of it, so all the member has to do is show up, be their beautiful self, and make those friends they’ve been searching for. Because it’s twice a month, they’ll be seeing some of the same faces again. This allows the member the opportunity to form friendships in a natural way over time.”
So far, Long’s concept has been a hit in Atlanta. One member, Sarah Hunter, put it this way: “This is a group of friendly, inclusive ladies and a great way to discover restaurants. What's not to love?”