YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp were all social media outlets used in promoting the opening of the new Minneapolis hot spot Spoon & Stable. These outlets were used in addition to the press received from papers like the Star Tribune and even Delta’s Sky Magazine. Spoon & Stable opened its doors to the public for dining on November 1, 2014 but reservations were booked through the end of January before the first bite of food was even taken.
In comparison, Le Town Talk Diner, a restaurant boasting similar food to Spoon and Stable but at lower prices, opened in Minneapolis to far less fanfare and social media postings. In preparation for their opening night Le Town Talk’s owners told close friends and relatives the date of their first dinner service. In addition they posted on their Facebook page the times of their upcoming dinner services…a Facebook page few knew about at that point. Plenty of reservations remained available at Le Town Talk’s dinners.
To be fair, Spoon & Stable boasted a James Beard award winning chef and support from other world renown culinary idols like Thomas Keller – but if Spoon & Stable hadn’t advertised this fact through every social media outlet available, who would have known? Le Town Talk had the opportunity to fight back with their own New York City trained chef who had recently come from a Michelin Star restaurant in the Big Apple as well as creative flavors infused into the house made menu items from bouillabase to mushroom stuffed goucheres. Yet these attractive facts remained unmentioned on Twitter, Facebook, Eater, Thrillist, and are even absent from Le Town Talk’s busy website.
Ah the website. When making a decision on what restaurant to try next my process is as follows:
- Is there a newly opened hot spot restaurant I’ve heard of that I haven’t been to yet? Yes? Make reservation. No? Move to step 2.
- Check eater.com or local magazines/papers for recommendations. Something look good? Great, make reservation. No luck there? Move to step 3.
- Check Open Table for available reservations in the area I want to eat in.
- Browse available reservations and make a judgment call based on the vibe I get from the website, menu, Open Table stars, and Yelp stars
A busy and unattractive website with hard to find information and menus that must be downloaded to my computer before they can be viewed is as unattractive to me as finding a hair in my soup. Clean photography and easy to access information are a must. Depending on my desired dining experience cheesy advertisements must be reserved for the times I’m looking for a place to watch a football game, not enjoy a classy meal with my husband. The website is my first glimpse at a restaurant’s brand and influences my perception of what my experience will be.
Let’s go back to Open Table. I love to eat out and what I love even more than just eating out is being rewarded to eat out. If I have a very specific idea of where I want to eat I will first check Open Table to see if I can earn 100 points for dining out. If that particular restaurant does not participate in Open Table I will be disappointed and will have to call to make a reservation. When I am searching for where to eat with no specific restaurant in mind, though, I rarely go beyond what reservations are available via Open Table. Spoon and Stable, although completely booked, is on Open Table; Le Town Talk is not.
Chefs are today’s rock stars and the newest, hottest local/seasonal/celebrity chef owned restaurant is opening in a town near you. Competition between restaurants is intense and every diner is a critic with access to Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter. Staying on top of social media and using it is an advertising outlet is an essential way to bring in clientele. Think about it – how did you choose your last restaurant experience?