Friday, July 31, 2009

Conti Speaks!

Interesting interview with Joe "CEO" Conti on the new Grub Street Philadelphia site. Kirsten Henri asked him about the "wine boutique" concept, and gets some answers that just leave you slack-jawed. For instance, the boutiques are "picked" by putting ads in local newspapers, and waiting for replies, a charmingly innocent way of making sure you get the response you want while remaining "courtesy contract legal." And a great exchange here:

Conti: ...we weren't looking to partner with restaurants, we were looking to partner with high-end gourmet food stores.

Henri: Maybe it's confusing because your first partner, Jose Garces, is known for being a restaurateur, not a grocer. [Score!]

Conti: Jose basically was doing this market in the Western Union building. When he heard we were placing boutiques, he called us.
Clearly Garces reads the real estate ads in the local papers; what, in the "Monopoly Opportunities for Advantage Available" section?

But this is my favorite:
Henri: Are you surprised some restaurateurs are bent out of shape?

Conti: How can I be diplomatic here? [I assume this means, "How can I insult your intelligence and get away with it?"] I'm from a restaurant family. I like to tease I'm a bartender by birth. My father was president of the National Restaurant Association. [This, BTW, is essentially Conti's self-stated qualification for his current position: heredity.] Yes, I was surprised. It's a very old-fashioned, parochial view of the restaurant market. Decades ago we realized the hospitality industry survives best when there are a number of options for the consumer.
Didja see that last line? "...the hospitality industry survives best when there are a number of options for the consumer." Guess that doesn't apply to retail wine and spirits sales!

These ridiculous ideas only point up how ill-suited state-owned monopoly booze sales are to modern commerce. These "boutiques" are clearly an unfair advantage to stores that are selected on the basis of personal choice by unelected, unregulated bureaucrats. The wine kiosks are a bumbling circumvention of supermarket sales.

Stop making it so hard! Privatization would fix all of this, increase jobs, continue the collection of taxes, and put an end to the embarrassing parade of corrup -- er, "the appearance of a possible conflict of interest." The Legislature needs to put an end to this farce, and now would be a great time.

1 comment:

Rich said...

Nice picture of the Cont.