Myersvision: Million Pound Menu

Readers are getting a double dose of Myersvision this week, because had I stuck to the usual schedule of posting our dear Audre‘s pieces on Wednesdays, this plucky little review would have been left until midway through January 2023, and I can’t keep it from you (or Audre) that long.

Audre possesses a love for shows that require people performing at the height of their abilities in stressful situations, often with hard cash on the line.  This show sounds exactly like that, with an added twist:  the hopes and dreams of the would-be restauranteurs involved are also on the line.

Having money to invest is, surely, a wonderful thing, but it comes with the burden of investing it wisely.  We have all heard stories of friends or distant relations who made a good investment that reaped dividends in the long-run.  We’ve also heard the alternatives, where some poor cousin—usually hoping to get rich quick—has blown his savings on a buddy’s llama farm.

What makes this show sound particularly compelling is that the investors are not mega-wealthy, the types that can afford to lose a cool mill or two and not worry about their Ferrari getting repossessed.  These are people that we might call “country comfortable” that have some quid to toss around, but they can’t afford to see it all lost in a failed specialty grilled cheese restaurant in London.

Well, I’ve said too much, and prattled on too long—I think my introduction is now longer than Audre’s piece.  D’oh!

With that, here is Audre’s review of Million Pound Menu:

First of all, since we are separated by a common language, in this instance ‘pound’ refers to English monetary units – for us, a dollar; for them a pound. Or a quid. Tricksey linguists those English.

You’ll be happy to know that this is not a cooking competition. This is much more trying, emotionally. Have you ever wondered how new restaurants get started? This will give you the English slant on that but I suspect it’s much the same here in the States. When a person or a group of people, have found their very tastiest plates of food and have tested them at, perhaps, fairs or food truck events, or Saturday street markets, they make a video showing their best fare and talking about what makes them unique and why investors should be interested. In this series, the folks submit their videos to a group of England’s most famous hospitality investors who then decide which nascent company they want to inspect more closely.

The investors make their choices and the series production team prepare two pop-up restaurants – all brand new and shiny, including whatever logo the newbies see themselves using. The newbies get their food supplies in and all that goes along with that and have a ‘half-off’ lunch in a busy city location for the locals to visit. Potential investors of the particular newbies’ restaurants also attend the half-off lunch to see and try the food and its presentation. The investors also review the newbies’ finances and detailed balance sheets. The day after the ‘dry run’, the pop-ups offer their full menus at regular prices. The investors attend this, too, in order to see how the business handles being busy and if the food is as good as the day before and to see if there is constancy in the offerings.

After the full presentation, one of two things will happen. If the investors liked what they ate and accepted the finances and balance sheet, they will meet with the series host and the newbie restauranteurs and make their investment offer which the audience gets to watch. If, however, the investor has lost interest for whatever reason (and they do share that with the series host), they simply don’t show up for the final meeting with the newbie and the series host. Those poor people, after all they’ve gone through to get their business started, have to wait til a certain time on the clock – if the investor doesn’t show up, they know it’s a no-go. But they have to sit there for that hour … I’m chuckling to myself but I really do think that wait is brutal.

I have found it fascinating how the investors decide whether to make an offer or not. They are none of them ‘high rollers’, in the sense that they rashly make offers; every decision is carefully weighed. While this series reminds me of Shark Tank, this feels much more immediate and uniquely personal. I recommend you watch Million Pound Menu.

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