It began innocently enough, three decades ago, with a street festival called Bite of Chicago. Back then, Al Silverman, who owned an Olde English joint behind the Factoria Mall called Barnaby's, smelled the bratwurst...and an opportunity; he launched a modest festival at Greenlake.
These days, Bite of Seattle, still owned by Silverman family under their corporate umbrella, Festivals, Inc, takes over Seattle Center for three days at the height of summer, feeding some half-million visitors. Most of them look well-fed to start with, which doesn't prevent them from lining up for elephant ears, funnel cakes and churros.
Worse, the Silverman clan sold out this year to the single most destructive force in the restaurant industry, Groupon.
With Orwellian hypocrisy, Groupon's VP for North American Sales says: "As evidenced by the awesome restaurant and food deals featured daily on Groupon, we really love food. We're very excited about our three year commitment to celebrate the amazing food, restaurants and culinary talent of the Seattle area, and we're delighted the festival supports the great work being done by Food Lifeline to give more people in Western Washington better access to nutritious food." If only. Three years. Wow.
Let me just remind you, in case you haven't heard it here before: In the name of "encouraging new business" and "dining opportunities," Groupon caters to finicky, self-absorbed cheapskates, and preys on weak restaurants with unsophisticated management, undermining their customer base and their profitability.
Now, suddenly, Groupon has its name attached to Seattle's most bloated food event. Pass the antacids, please. And bite me.