At CapitalSource, the boss picks up the lunch tab everyday

Company: CapitalSource.

Location: Chevy Chase.

Number of employees: 225.

For employees at CapitalSource, there is such a thing as a free lunch. And it arrives every day around 11:30 a.m.

“It smells so good that you can tell right away,” said Elyssia Larrañaga, an executive assistant at the financial firm. “There is so much variety that it’s always exciting: Thai one day, Italian the next, and Chinese after that.”

The company has been providing lunch for employees since it was founded in 2000 with a staff of four. Over the years, daily menus have evolved to include more soups, salads and healthful fare, said Dana Smith, senior vice president of human resources.

Last week’s menu included sandwiches and hummus from Cosi, barbecue from Rocklands and pizza from Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza.

“It’s one less thing for employees have to worry about every day,” Smith said, adding that most — if not all — employees take advantage of the free lunch. “It cuts out having to worry about what you’re going to eat, or where you’re going to go.”

CapitalSource’s facilities team selects each day’s menu based on employee feedback, said Michael Weiss, director of communications. Company favorites include Balducci’s, Guapo’s and Moby Dick’s House of Kabob.

Once the food is delivered, it is set up in kitchen areas on two floors of the company’s building. The company provides paper plates and plastic utensils, as well as a selection of soft drinks, juice, coffee and tea.

“It keeps people in the office and it builds a sense of community,” Weiss said. “Every day, no matter what, you’re mingling with people at lunchtime.”

Larrañaga, 33, said she hasn’t packed her own lunch since she started working at CapitalSource four years ago.

“There is such a wide variety every day that there’s something for everybody, whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat-and-potatoes kind of person,” Larrañaga said.

“It was especially great when I was pregnant,” she added. “If I wanted pickles and hummus, well, no problem. It was usually there.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local retail, hospitality and banking for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

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