The lunchrooms at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's home office in New York City, which opened at Madison Avenue and 23rd Street in 1909, served more than 4,000 clerks every day. All newly hired clerks filled out cards listing their dietary preferences: coffee, tea, milk, or buttermilk? Fish on Fridays? Men and women ate in separate lunchrooms, and everyone had an assigned seat so that waitresses could quickly deliver the right meal to each person. The clerks were allowed 35 minutes for lunch, and the meal was free. By midcentury, many large companies in the city were opening lunchrooms and cafeterias on site, making it possible for employees to get a low-cost meal and hasten back to work without leaving the building.