Eating Up the Atmosphere and Food at Franchise Finance & Growth Conference
There’s more to the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference conferences than just learning about 30-plus franchise concepts and the lenders who want—or should want—to fund them. There’s eating.
I dined at Milo’s, a Greek seafood restaurant in The Cosmopolitan, two nights in a row. The first night was a test run. The second night popped because Paul Tripodes, with Moe’s Southwest Grill, is Greek, so not only did he pronounce the menu items correctly, he steered us to some traditional dishes, such as grilled octopus and a spread for bread made out of whipped fish roe. The Greek salad was authentic, he added, because it didn’t have lettuce.
The fish, flown in fresh from Portugal or Greece daily (I’m picturing first class at those prices), were in a weird sort of beauty pageant on ice, where diners personally pick the fish or scallops or lobsters they want cooked for them. Fish are delicious, but they are not the prettiest protein in the world (see pics).
After dinner my dining companions all had Greek coffee, which is a lot like Turkish coffee, strong and thick. If you take sugar with your coffee, tell the server when he or she takes your order so it can be brewed with it, rather than added at the table. This coffee is not drunk to the last drop. A sludge of grounds settle at the bottom, and in Greece the cup is turned upside down so that a pattern is left in the cup after the sludge runs out. Greek women know how to read the patterns to tell your fortune; alas, Paul didn’t have that skill.
My first lunch at The Cosmopolitan, where the conference was held March 14-16, was at Holsteins, a shake and bun concept. The 360-degree graphics were the best part of the experience, but then again I didn’t have one of the adult milkshakes.
A cocktail reception followed the day’s presentations, where I encountered a clever appetizer. Instead of having to supply shot glasses or communal bowls of cocktail sauce, the shrimp were injected with a plastic tube that looked like the old oral polio drops. I had to have a server explain how to eat them: First, you remove the tube with a long needle-like “toothpick” that attached them to the shrimp. Then take a bite of the shrimp and squeeze a few drops” of the Tabasco-like sauce in your mouth. Delicious.
My last dinner was with the editorial staff at Jaleo, a Spanish tapas restaurant. It was at this dinner that one of the staff was confronted with a moral dilemma. Many vegetarians refuse to eat anything with a face, but what do you do when your pearl onion has a charred face on it. Joey Hamburger, who was conducting our person-on-the-street (or hallway, in this case) interviews, did the only humane thing possible. He plucked it from his plate, gave it a name and added a few more hours to its life.