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Roadshow Retreats

Hopping from city to city to get your startup going? From Boston to L.A., here are the best places to meet with potential clients or investors.

Michal Lev-Ram, Business 2.0 Magazine writer-reporter

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- You've finally managed to hit up enough angels, family, and friends to amass your first round of seed funding. Now it's time to take your idea on the road to woo customers, pitch VCs, and rub elbows with prospective partners.

Money is tight, so at night you'll probably sleep at the cheapest hotel you can tolerate. But by day you need to convey professionalism, which means it's handy to know about business-friendly destinations where you can arrange informal meetings, give demos, and entertain without looking profligate.

With your soon-to-be-shrinking startup capital in mind, we searched seven U.S. cities to find the best locations to meet, greet, wine, and dine - places where you'll get the most effective bang for each precious early-stage buck.

Our list will help you make a good first impression, but after that it's up to you to close the deal.


Morning meetings: Newbury Street is lined with coffee shops. Try Trident Booksellers & Cafe (338 Newbury) or Espresso Royale Caffe (286 Newbury) for breakfast, coffee, and free Wi-Fi

Lunch: Silvertone Bar & Grill (69 Bromfield St., 617-338-7887) serves upscale comfort food. Arrive by noon to beat the crowds.

Afternoon meetings: In Cambridge, the 1369 Coffee House (757 Massachusetts Ave.) and Simon's Coffee Shop (1736 Massachusetts) are laptop-friendly.

Dinner: Minimalist decor and modern French cuisine make Radius (8 High St., 617-426-1234) a prime dining spot in the financial district. In Cambridge, Salts (798 Main St., 617-876-8444) has California-style cuisine and a quiet atmosphere.

Evening drinks: Check out the leather-wallpapered wine room at Sonsie (327 Newbury) to savor more than 200 wines, all available by the glass.

Getting around: For $18, a three-day MBTA visitor's pass buys unlimited access to the city's convenient subway, bus, and ferry system.


Morning meetings: Soak up the European ambience at 71 Irving Place Coffee & Tea Bar, not far from Union Square.

Lunch: Form follows function at the Modern (9 W. 53rd St., 212-333-1220), a stylish restaurant at the MoMA in midtown. Call a day ahead for a reservation.

Afternoon meetings: Settle in at an upscale hotel lobby to set the tone for your talks. The Michelangelo (152 W. 51st St.) conveys understated European elegance, while the SoHo Grand Hotel (310 W. Broadway) is all about downtown cool.

Dinner: Pastis (9 Ninth Ave., 212-929-4844), in the trendy meatpacking district, is a bustling Parisian-style bistro.

Evening drinks: Art deco meets the jet set at the Flatiron Lounge (37 W. 19th St.), where the cocktails are always mixed with care.

Getting around: A prepaid subway Metrocard will get you around the city faster--and much more cheaply--than a rental car or cab.


Morning meetings: The Flying Biscuit Cafe (1001 Piedmont Ave.) is a friendly spot to load up on Southern staples like apple butter and grits.

Lunch: Ted Turner's steakhouse, Ted's Montana Grill (133 Luckie St., 404-521-9796), is a good setting for lunchtime dealmaking.

Afternoon meetings: Enjoy the leather couches and free Wi-Fi at the Octane Coffee Bar & Lounge (1009-B Marietta St. N.W.), near the Georgia Tech campus.

Dinner: Head to Eclipse di Luna (764 Miami Circle, 404-846-0449) for Spanish-style tapas in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood.

Evening drinks: The Beluga Martini Bar (3115 Piedmont Road), also in Buckhead, is comfortable and cigar-friendly.

Getting around: MARTA is convenient within the city, but if you have business in the burbs, plan to rent a car.


Morning meetings: Bin 36 (339 N. Dearborn St.), a combination market/restaurant in the heart of downtown, serves breakfast starting at 6:30, and it's rarely overcrowded.

Lunch: Head north of the river to Cafe Spiaggia (980 N. Michigan Ave., 312-280-2750), an unpretentious Italian cafe overlooking Lake Michigan at the far end of the Magnificent Mile.

Afternoon meetings: For the royal treatment, visit the Drake Hotel's Palm Court Lounge (140 E. Walton Place), where tea service runs from 1 to 5 p.m.

Dinner: Bistro 110 (110 E. Pearson St., 312-266-3110) serves authentic but informal French food in a prime location, just across from Chicago's historic Water Tower. Reservations recommended.

Evening drinks: Gorgeous city views and affordable drinks make the Signature Room, on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, a perfect venue to discuss your plans for taking over the world.

Getting around: Walking downtown is a pleasure when the weather cooperates, but the El will get you almost anywhere, including to both of the city's airports.


Morning meetings: Starbucks was created here, but there are still plenty of small neighborhood places that offer strong java and Wi-Fi. Try Online Coffee Co. (1111 First Ave.; 1720 E. Olive Way) or Fargonian Coffeehouse (2328 E. Madison St.).

Lunch: Enjoy Mediterranean-inspired cuisine at Andaluca (407 Olive Way, 206-382-6999). Reservations recommended.

Afternoon meetings: Seattle's stunning new Central Library has become a popular place for casual meetings. Go to www.spl.org to reserve a conference room, but if they're all booked, the main lobby is also business-friendly.

Dinner: Head to the Belltown neighborhood to get local seafood with a contemporary flavor. Try Flying Fish Restaurant (2234 First Ave., 206-728-8595) or Wasabi Bistro (2311 Second Ave., 206-441-6044).

Evening drinks: The Stumbling Monk (1635 E. Olive Way) is a friendly tavern that specializes in fine Belgian beers.

Getting around: Metro Transit is free downtown between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. For meetings beyond the city center or in Redmond, rent a car.


Morning meetings: You'll find comfy couches and free Wi-Fi at Coupa Café (538 Ramona St., Palo Alto), not far from the Stanford University campus.

Lunch: Paris meets Silicon Valley at Left Bank (635 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, 650-473-6543), a spacious brasserie 10 minutes from Sand Hill Road. Call ahead.

Afternoon meetings: Ever done a poolside demo? Here's your chance: The Sheraton Hotel (625 El Camino Real) near downtown Palo Alto has free Wi-Fi and a great outdoor bar.

Dinner: The Chantilly Restaurant (3001 El Camino Real, Redwood City, 650-321-4080) serves French and Italian cuisine.

Evening drinks: BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse (10690 N. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino) is a popular watering hole just steps from the Apple Computer campus.

Getting around: Innovation thrives in the Valley, but public transit doesn't. Want to look like a local? EV Rental Cars (www.evrental.com) will plug you in to a hybrid.


Morning meetings: For laid-back lattes, choose one of three Urth Caffé locations (8565 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; 267 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; 2327 Main St., Santa Monica).

Lunch: Blair's (2903 Rowena Ave., 323-660-1882) is an American-style bistro in the Silver Lake neighborhood, not far from downtown. In Venice, try the hip patio at Beechwood Restaurant (822 Washington Blvd., 310-448-8884).

Afternoon meetings: Midday cappuccinos at Chateau Marmont (8221 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood) are much less extravagant than booking a table for dinner.

Dinner: Upscale Enoteca Drago (410 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, 310-786-8236) is a chic place to go for rustic Italian food. A sister restaurant, Drago Ristorante (2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-828-1585), offers much of the same closer to the ocean.

Evening drinks: The Rooftop Bar at the downtown Standard hotel (550 S. Flower St.) is an ideal poolside place to see and be seen.

Getting around: In L.A., you are what you drive, and you'll do a lot of driving. To roll in style, try Beverly Hills Rent-a-Car (www.bhrentacar.com).

Michal Lev-Ram (mlevram@business2.com) is a Business 2.0 writer-reporter. Top of page

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