Food for Thought
Tweet if you love to eat
“Back when we opened Max’s Wine Dive — and that wasn’t that long ago —we didn’t have Twitter,” says restaurant PR gal Kimberly Park. “Now it’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn. You have to do all that.”
Now, Facebook foodies eagerly await chef Randy Evan’s status updates on the opening of Haven. Most found out about the opening of the new Mexican/Pacific eatery Yelapa Playa Mexicana online and via tweets from local foodie bloggers. Chef Jason Gould announced his sudden kitchen departures (twice) via Twitter.
Some corporations may be still be struggling with social media but Houston restaurants have more than got the hang of it. To many of them, it's as important to their success as a good location and impeccable service. If you’re reading this column on CultureMap, you know that the main way to access information is on the net. And that includes info about restaurants and chefs. Google "restaurants and social media" and you get something like 50 million results.
Chef and restaurant entrepreneur Bryan Caswell was an early adopter. He started his Whole Fish blog a year ago.
“It gives me an outlet for my writing and it gives people an idea about our philosophy of food,” Caswell says.
He and partner Bill Floyd created a mega hit with Reef then opened Little Bigs and now Stella Sola. Having three restaurants and four locations — the new Little Bigs in Hermann Park opened just before Thanksgiving Day — means Caswell spends a lot of time on the road and in kitchens. But he also spends a lot of time online updating his blog, FaceBook page and Twitter account.
“It’s a commitment,” he says. “I made a decision to do this and lose some of my privacy, but it’s a great thing. You can get the word out quickly about things and it makes me accessible to the public.”
As you can tell by Caswell’s posts and updates, he doesn’t use a PR person. It’s all personal, from football to fishing.
“You can always tell when it’s some PR person and not a chef doing it,” he says. “I just felt I would be better served by reaching out personally. It’s more genuine.”
That’s not to say that tweets, updates and blog postings from the pros aren’t useful when it comes to informing foodies where and what to eat. They are. But it’s always nice to get a little personal perspective, even if it comes with a few typos.
On September 21 the twitterati world received this: “this is my first twitter hope I’m doing it correctly! (heather?) w received and made fabulous venison chops today! tony.”
Apparently even venerable eateries like Tony’s are tweeting.
And yes, the denizen-of-dining Tony Vallone really did send that via his iPhone.
“You have to keep reinventing yourself,” Tony told me. “This is fun. I’m having a good time with it. I’ve got people who help me but I do a lot of it myself. I’m still a novice, but I’m having fun and we already have a lot of followers.”
So what’s next for foodie fans? Who knows, but Vallone is ready for it.
“Anything that comes along,” he says, "I intend to jump on it.'