A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 01, 2010
“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”

"If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu” (or, “You’re either at the table or on the menu") means that if you’re not at the (bargaining) table, then you’re being (financially) eaten. The Washington political saying is of unknown origin and has been cited in print since at least 2000.


Google Books
Automotive News
v. 82, nos. 6289-6292 - 2000
Pg. 58:
Said Hwang: “There’s an old saying in Washington: ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’”

29 March 2004, Automotive News, “ Automakers seek image boost with ads”:
Dave McCurdy had a saying about life on Capitol Hill: If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.

CommonDreams.org
Published on Sunday, February 13, 2005 by the Kent-Ravenna (Ohio) Record-Courier
If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu
by Caroline Arnold

Google Groups: soc.culture.iraq
Newsgroups: soc.culture.iraq, soc.culture.usa, alt.politics.bush, alt.politics.democrats
From:
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 06:08:25 -0600
Local: Tues, Nov 29 2005 7:08 am
Subject: Iraq: Chillin’ with Chalabi

There is no way he is going to get Rumsfeld and Cheney, steeped in the neocon “you’re either at the table or on the menu” ethos, to agree to limit the powers of the U.S. army.

Google Books
Voices of sustainable design
By Kira Gould and Lance Hosey
Bainbridge Island, WA : Ecotone LLC
2007
Pg. 43:
[Environmentalist] Winona LaDuke recently told me, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Google Books
Carbonomics:
How to fix the climate and charge it to OPEC

By Steven Stoft
Nantucket, MA: Diamond Press
2008
Pg. 40:
As Charles Territo of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers explains, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

POLITICO.com
Retailers have lobbying strategy in store
By ERIKA LOVLEY | 4/24/08 5:13 AM EST
(...)
“If you’re not on the table, you’re on the menu,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce transportation lobbyist Janet Kavinoky.

Cardboard Spaceship
“Either You’re at the Table or on the Menu...”
Lovely phrase I saw as an introduction to the USA bailout, which has essentially given the ability to shape the US banking market to a group of nine banks.  Good article about the consequences here in the LA Times. 
October 15, 2008 in World Economics

OCLC WorldCat record
If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu: the Florida Legislative Fellowship experience.
Author: AL Rivard; M Themar-Geck; PS Cook; L Deitte
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Journal of the American College of Radiology : JACR, 2008 Nov; 5(11): 1157-8
Database: From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

OB Rag (Ocean Beach, CA)
“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu” – community input on City Budget – including libraries – begins
by Staff on February 3, 2009

Boston (MA) Globe
Business warms to Democratic leaders
Corporate America partnering on bills

By Susan Milligan
Globe Staff / May 28, 2009
(...)
“The crass political answer is that you’re either at the table, or on the menu,” said Peter Molinaro, a spokesman for Dow, explaining why Liveris chose to work with Democratic representatives Edward Markey and Henry Waxman on the climate change bill.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, April 01, 2010 • Permalink