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Pie Hole: Most Little Rock Restaurants Miss Social Media Boat

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Do you follow The Pantry on Twitter and Facebook? I do. While scrolling through my FB feed a few weeks back, I noticed an announcement/picture for a private event pig roast at the restaurant. A big, beautiful roasted pig’s head was right there, front and center, on my computer monitor.

This prompted me to contact The Pantry’s owner. Within days we had coordinated a private party pig roast to be held in early January for 15-20 of my friends.

Why do I mention all of this?

Because just one picture on FB caused a chain reaction of events that will inevitably lead to a few hundred dollars going to The Pantry’s way. One post, one customer…hundreds of bucks. Think about that for a second.

It was instant gratification for me (the customer) and future bucks for them (the restaurant).

Apparently, The Pantry is in the minority of Little Rock eateries which understand the potentially positive impact on a business’ bottom line with the proper utilization of social media. It is hard to find a local restaurant that has a modern website and active Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This dumbfounds me.

Essentially, social media is not only free advertising (which helps build name recognition), but is also a tool to immediately reach and respond to your audience. What restaurant wouldn’t want that? Customers now expect the entire interactive package from dining establishments, yet most Little Rock restauranteurs continue to live in the Dark Ages of outdated websites and lackluster social media interaction. What better way to entice customers than with a daily tweet or status update about the chef’s special or the latest cocktail creation? For the emerging food truck business, how convenient would it be for patrons to realize that you happen to be stationed just down the street from their office desk today?

Is it a time issue? Maybe. Maintaining proper Twitter and Facebook accounts take time…time that could be going to other areas of the business.

Is it a cost issue? Maybe. In big cities like Houston and Boston (where I’ve lived), you’ll often find marketing firms running the social media show for restaurants. In Little Rock, this probably isn’t the case.

The bottom line: there are no excuses. Little Rock restaurants need to find the time and means to make social media a top priority. It’s just good business.

Little Rock is ready to take that next step in becoming a legitimate food town, but progress will be severely limited if our local restaurants continue to view social media as a burden rather than a platform to reach the public. That would be a shame. We’ve got some amazing folks doing some outstanding things with food. I just wish more of us knew about it.

Until then, the people who are unaware of these mom and pop places will continue to fill those Olive Garden parking lots.

21 Comments

Pie Hole: Digging on Food Blogging

For this week’s Pie Hole, I focus my opinions on one very interesting Boston article.

First things first, read this entire piece.

Interesting…to say the least. Anomnomnomoynous lays out a nice laundry list of food blogger/blogging offenses.

So, for this Pie Hole, I decided to examine each of Anomnomnomoynous’ bold print points and give my opinion on his/her opinion. Are you with me? Good. Let’s get started.

But buyer beware; not all are created equally and most cannot be trusted. Most of them don’t even like food, I’m convinced.

True, all aren’t created equally. But doesn’t that go for just about everything in life? As far as “most cannot be trusted”, that’s a little extreme. I’d change “most” to “some”. And to write that most don’t even like food is just ridiculous. Personally, food is right up there with family, friends, and health…in no particular order.

Really, you have a book deal and you used boxed prepared risotto and write about iced coffee four times a week? For shame.

I don’t know many bloggers who have book deals.  Strike that, I don’t know any bloggers who have book deals.  And I sure don’t know many who “want some accreditation”. Most are just looking for an outlet to express their thoughts and to further a passion or hobby. And yes, some blogs have the same mundane comments from a group of friends…but who cares? There are cliques in every walk of life. Get used to it.  My guess is that Anomnomnomoynous is a he, not a she.  Attention my man….food blogging is comprised overwhelmingly of females.  Maybe you are feeling lonely and on an island.  Two words for you…tough shit!

I paid for this...honest...I did!

Me, I eat with my stomach, food should look good enough to eat, but if it tastes like crap, what’s the point?

Agreed–the taste of food is more important than the presentation, but if a blogger wants to entice the audience, the pictures need to be good.

Now, I’ll also address his/her point about 98% of meals being free. That’s wrong. If I walked into a restaurant, stated I was a food blogger, and demanded my meal be comped…I’d promptly be told to get the fuck out, and to take my shitty ass blog with me. The free meals are generally planned group events….you know, the ones where we are PR pawns. PS…I had a free meal tonight at a media tasting dinner in Salem that cost me $60. How? ($10-gas, $40-babysitter, $10 -restaurant tip)

Guess what? No one cares how often you post, if you have to complain about how hard it is to write something with frequency, or all the free events you “have” to attend, you’re missing the point entirely.

Them fighin’ words. That one just hits a little close to home. I post six times a week. And there are plenty of people who care that I post so often…my wife, my best friend from college, an old girlfriend…I could go at least 10 people deep. Don’t make me, I will.

Shelling out $150 to attend a blogger conference will not improve your writing or your blog, it will just make you $150 poorer.

Agreed. I spent $175 on a conference when I moved to Boston about 4 months ago. Biggest waste of money ever! I remember one panelist saying how important it was to write with a voice. Really!?! No fucking shit! I walked out after two hours…$175 be damned!

In summation…are a few of Anomnomnomoynous’ points accurate? Yes. But for the most part, they are generalizations written by what seems to be a fairly agitated person. And worst of all, a nameless, fairly agitated person.

My name’s Kevin Shalin. Please Anomnomnomoynous, feel free to shoot me an email, and maybe we could set up a lunch. My treat!

31 Comments

Pie Hole: El Rey, El Real, & Los Patios

Each week, I take a look at the food writing scene in Houston…and give my opinion on it.

Syd Kearney was one of many to report on the big El Rey/El Real flub by Esquire. The magazine meant El Real, but it does beg the question…which place is better, El Rey or El Real? I was only at El Real in the beginning, but I’d say it’s a tie.

You will need to look long and far to find a better food post than this one. Anamaris Cousins Price nails it with her take on how to prepare clams and mussels. It’s pure genius—smart, funny, creative, and informative. Many kudos for an amazing post!

Of the last 10 posts from Eating Our Words, three are Top 5’s.  I think that’s like 30%.

Back to Syd…nice list. If I were still in Houston, I’d partake in some of these.

I wish The Ferm would write a little more often.  Hell, I’ve begged him to write for this blog.  Instead, we must settle on once-a-month posts that include this horse shit.

Hey Anamaris, I found a great recipe for your mussels.

Meatballs...an appetizer staple!

Speaking of recipes, this is a good reference article for the upcoming holidays.  With folks coming over, it’s always important to have a few appetizer recipes in the arsenal.

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Pie Hole: El Real and Everything Else

Each week, I take a look at the food writing scene in Houston…and give my opinion on it.

Guess I better lead off with El Real and Katharine Shilcutt’s spotlight on the place.  In it, the word “evangelist” was used twice in less than a five-word span. That was a little weird.  Also, this article smells a little “conflicty of interest”. Maybe it should have been handed off. But no biggie…no matter what…coverage from HP on El Real will always draw a few snarls. But what really rubbed me the wrong way was a comment Ms. Shilcutt made in the box: “And although we have a lot of Tex-Mex in town, we have very few joints that I’d consider truly great — or truly vintage.” Umm, wrong.

Who doesn’t love a good list? Amber Ambrose does…and I like this one. Just a great topic and simple answers that probably took a shitload of emailing to collect. BTW…my guilty pleasure is Cool Ranch Doritos…hell, any Doritos for that matter.

Name these ribs!

If you have any interest in barbeque in Houston, J.C. Reid’s new pet project is a must follow. I am very intrigued on how this thing will play out. His take on health and environmental codes is a very interesting one. I truly encourage readers to check this out. Even if you don’t agree with J.C., I guarantee you’ll learn something along the way.

I enjoyed reading this piece by Marene Gustin. But it left me wanting just a tad more…maybe like a short career bio of the subject. Maeve O’Gorman Pesquera has a badass job, but it would have been interesting to read all the stops along the way.

A buddy of mine told me to check this site out. I’m intrigued. How have I not heard of this guy? I need to get my ass back in the loop. Even from afar.

10 Comments